Virtually all states today require vehicle operators to maintain car insurance on their automobile. The problem is in many states, the minimum car insurance amount isn’t always adequate to cover the costs of an auto accident.
What is “No Fault” car insurance?
Many states (see list below) have a “No Fault” auto insurance provision written into law. “No Fault” simply means your car insurance policy must pay medical bills for you and your passengers no matter who was at fault in the accident. Which states are “No Fault” car insurance states?
Is “No Fault” insurance good to have?
Another advantage (depending on your perspective) in a no fault state involves the ability to sue … or be sued. Under certain conditions, no fault states limit lawsuits for pain and suffering after a car accident between citizens of the same state. However, these same states allow their citizens to sue drivers from other states after a car accident.
When you purchase your car insurance in a no fault state, you’re usually offered two choices of liability: “full tort” and “limited tort.” If you choose “limited tort,” your premiums will be lower but you won’t be able to sue another citizen who lives in your “No Fault” state for pain and suffering unless you’re seriously injured and your medical bills surpass a specified amount. What is a serious injury? Check your car insurance policy – it will be described there. If you choose full tort, your premiums will higher but you’ll be able to sue no matter the damages.
If someone from another state crashes into you, all bets are off. Even if you have “limited tort” car insurance, you can sue someone from outside the state for pain and suffering if they crash into you.
What happens if I don’t have “enough” car insurance?
No fault insurance is the good news. Now for the bad news. If you‘re at fault in a car accident and cause a serious injury where the damages exceed your insurance liability limits, you could be held responsible for any claims in excess of your policy limits. In order to pay those claims, you could be forced by the courts to sell your property or liquidate your savings account and other financial assets. The worst case scenario is that your current and future earnings could be garnished by court order. By simply purchasing car insurance with sufficient liability limits to account for both your current assets and future net worth, you can guard against this risk. And that’s what car insurance is for.
Does my car insurance cover me in another state?
There IS more good news, though. If you carry the state law minimum car insurance for your state and have a accident in another state with higher minimum coverages or other coverage not even required in your state (such as personal injury protection), your policy will automatically increase to meet that state’s minimum coverage requirements. Check out your state’s minimum auto insurance requirements in the chart below (liability limits are in thousands).
What do the liability numbers mean?
The first number is the bodily injury liability maximum for one person injured in a car accident. The second number is bodily injury liability maximum for all injuries in a single accident. The third number is property damage liability maximum for one accident.
So if you live in the great state of Ohio, your car insurance policy will cover up to $12,500 in bodily injury claims for each person with a maximum of $25,000 for a single accident. It will cover only $7,500 in property damage – damage to the other party’s vehicle. How many cars on the road are only worth $7,500? Crash into any standard luxury car today and you could be facing a court date.
“Minimums” truly are just that … the absolute minimum you need to keep yourself out of hot water.
|State||Liability required?||Personal Injury Protection?||No-fault state?||Uninsured Motorist Required?|
|California (1)||Yes, 15/30/5||No||No||No|
|Florida (2)||No, 10/20/10||Yes||Yes||No|
|Maine (3)||Yes, 50/100/25||No||No||Yes|
|Maryland (4)||Yes, 20/40/15||Yes||No||Yes|
|New Hampshire||No, 25/50/25||No||No||Yes|
|New Jersey (5)||Yes, 15/30/5||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|New Mexico||Yes, 25/50/10||No||No||No|
|New York (6)||Yes, 25/50/10||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|North Carolina||Yes, 30/60/25||No||No||Yes|
|North Dakota||Yes, 25/50/25||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|Rhode Island (2)||Yes, 25/50/25||No||No||Yes|
|South Carolina||Yes, 25/50/25||No||No||Yes|
|South Dakota||Yes, 25/50/25||No||No||Yes|
|Tennessee (2)||Yes, 25/50/15||No||No||No|
|Utah (2)||Yes, 25/65/15||Yes||Yes||No|
|Washington D.C.||Yes, 25/50/10||No||No||Yes|
|West Virginia||Yes, 20/40/10||No||No||Yes|
(1) Low-cost policy limits for drivers in the California Automobile Assigned Risk Plan are 10/20/3.
(2) Instead of policy limits, policyholders can satisfy the requirement with a single combined policy. Amounts vary by state.
(3) In addition, policyholders must carry at least $1,000 for medical payments.
(4) PIP may be waived for the policyholder but it is compulsory for passengers.
(5) Basic policy (optional) limits are 10/10/5. UM/UIM coverage is not available under a basic policy but UIM is required under a standard policy.
(6) In addition, policyholders must have 50/100 for wrongful death coverage.
Photo by wonderferret