Jeffrey Johnson is a legal writer with a focus on personal injury. He has worked on personal injury and sovereign immunity litigation in addition to experience in family, estate, and criminal law. He earned a J.D. from the University of Baltimore and has worked in legal offices and non-profits in Maryland, Texas, and North Carolina. He has also earned an MFA in screenwriting from Chapman Univer...

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Laura Walker graduated college with a BS in Criminal Justice with a minor in Political Science. She married her husband and began working in the family insurance business in 2005. She became a licensed agent and wrote P&C business focusing on personal lines insurance. Laura serviced existing business and wrote new business. She now uses her insurance background to help educate drivers about...

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Reviewed by Laura Walker
Licensed Agent for 10 Years

UPDATED: Jan 20, 2020

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When you plan on driving a vehicle on public roads, you’ll need to buy auto insurance to protect yourself and other drivers. With so many different insurance companies and policies available, it can be difficult to determine what type of insurance you need to buy.

While you have a lot of options to choose from, you need to at least make sure that you get the minimum coverage requirements for your vehicle.

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Liability Coverage

Every state in the United States requires drivers to have a least some kind of liability insurance. Liability coverage is the only type of required auto insurance coverage according to state laws.

You have the option of adding additional coverage areas, but liability is the only one that must be purchased if you want to drive.

When it comes to buying liability insurance for your car, there are a few different numbers that come into play. When you talk to an insurance agent, you may get information about a liability policy such as that it offers 25/50/25 protection.

The first number in this type of quote tells you that you would receive $25,000 worth of personal injury compensation per individual if you are at fault in the accident.

The second number tells you that you would receive a maximum of $50,000 per claim. For example, if two people were injured in the accident, they could both receive up to $25,000 of coverage from your policy.

The third number in the quote tells you that your policy would provide up to $25,000 worth of coverage for property damage. For example, if you caused a wreck, the policy would pay a $25,000 to fix someone else’s property that you damaged.

State Requirements

Each state has its own rules as far as what you must get for auto liability insurance. The minimums are quoted in the format described previously. For example, in the state of Alaska, they require 50/100/25 coverage while Michigan requires 20/40/10 coverage.

When you buy an auto policy, it is important to check with the laws of your state to make sure that you get the minimum amount of coverage required.

The insurance agent that you purchase from should be able to provide you with information about the minimums for your state.

Additional Coverage Options

While liability insurance is the only type of coverage that you have to buy, you may also wish to buy additional coverage options. Many people who buy new vehicles purchased collision and comprehensive coverage as well.

In fact, if you use an auto loan to buy a car, your lender will probably require you to buy both of these kinds of coverage. This way, the lender’s investment will be protected in case your vehicle is damaged.

With collision coverage, the insurance company pays to repair or replace your vehicle when you cause a wreck. Without this type of coverage in place, the insurance company would not pay to replace the car and you’d be left without a vehicle if you totaled your car.

Comprehensive coverage is designed to provide additional forms of protection besides damage caused from a wreck. For example, this type of coverage provides help if a tree branch falls on your windshield or if someone vandalizes your car. This is also the type of coverage that kicks in if your vehicle is stolen and needs to be replaced.

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Comparing Quotes

If you are looking for the minimum amount of insurance coverage that you can buy, you should shop around between the various insurance companies in your state. For this process, consider calling local agents to get quotes on car insurance policies and looking online.

There are a number of places that you can get auto insurance quotes online and they do not require a lot of work on your part. By shopping around, you can see the best rate that each company has to offer.

When you are comparing quotes for the minimum amount of insurance coverage that you can get, the companies that you are shopping with may try to get you to buy a bigger policy.

In most cases, the minimum insurance requirements are not enough to truly provide good protection in the event of a wreck. For example, if you only have $20,000 worth of liability protection when someone is injured, this could easily be used up quickly. Any bills that go above that amount could be forced on you in the form of a lawsuit.

If another driver is seriously injured, he could sue you for the amount needed to pay for medical bills and pain and suffering. Because of this, it often makes sense to get a larger liability policy so that you are not left with a bill you cannot afford.

Choosing the Right One

While shopping around, you may want to get some additional quotes for larger liability insurance limits. You may be surprised how little it costs to get additional coverage once you already have a policy.

You may only have to pay a few extra dollars per month to get much more liability coverage. If you’re in a wreck later on, you may be thankful that you spent the extra money on the bigger liability coverage option.

Be sure to compare rates by entering your ZIP code into the FREE auto insurance comparison tool below!