Zaneta Wood, Ed.S. has over 15 years of experience in research and technical writing bringing a keen understanding of data analysis and information synthesis to reach a wide variety of audiences. She studied adult education and instructional technology at Appalachian State University as well as technical and professional communication at East Carolina University. Zaneta has prepared technical p...

Full Bio →

Written by

Joel Ohman is the CEO of a private equity backed digital media company. He is a CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™, author, angel investor, and serial entrepreneur who loves creating new things, whether books or businesses. He has also previously served as the founder and resident CFP® of a national insurance agency, Real Time Health Quotes. He has an MBA from the University of South Florida. Jo...

Full Bio →

Reviewed by Joel Ohman
Founder & CFP®

UPDATED: Sep 15, 2020

Advertiser Disclosure

It’s all about you. We want to help you make the right coverage choices.

Advertiser Disclosure: We strive to help you make confident insurance decisions. Comparison shopping should be easy. We partner with top insurance providers. This doesn’t influence our content. Our opinions are our own.

Editorial Guidelines: We are a free online resource for anyone interested in learning more about auto insurance. Our goal is to be an objective, third-party resource for everything auto insurance related. We update our site regularly, and all content is reviewed by auto insurance experts.

Here's what you need to know...

  • Car insurance is a necessity that protects us, our vehicles, and other drivers on the road
  • Most states require citizens to carry a minimum amount of insurance before driving
  • New Hampshire and Wisconsin are the only states that have no minimum requirements

Is it mandatory to have car insurance in every state?

If you live in the United States, chances are car insurance is just a regular part of life.

Almost every state has a minimum requirement for car insurance.

New Hampshire and Wisconsin are the only two states that do not require its residents have auto insurance  (though certain states like Virginia allow you to post a bond).

Enter your ZIP code to compare online car insurance quotes with the tool above!

Free Car Insurance Comparison

Enter your ZIP code below to view companies that have cheap car insurance rates.

 Secured with SHA-256 Encryption

New Hampshire

For any driver, not having coverage remains risky.

For example, if an accident involves drugs or alcohol, your case may be reviewed per requirements.

In such a case, the state of New Hampshire may suspend, or even revoke, your driver’s license should you not be able to cover the fiscal damages of the other party that is injured.

Cleary, getting a DUI conviction can cost more than increased insurance rates.

Wisconsin

While there is no mandatory law that requires its residents purchase auto insurance, citizens have to be able to prove their ability to pay for damages in the event of an auto accident if they are the ones at fault.

This can be done in a number of ways:

  • The motorist can carry liability insurance on the vehicle
  • They can put a cash deposit of $60,000 or more down with the Wisconsin Department of Transportation
  • They can file a bond with the Wisconsin Department of Transportation as well

If a motorist happens to get stopped in Wisconsin by a police officer without insurance, an independent investigation will be led by the Wisconsin Department of Transportation and the case will be put under review.

Free Car Insurance Comparison

Enter your ZIP code below to view companies that have cheap car insurance rates.

 Secured with SHA-256 Encryption

Additional Laws

Each of the 50 states has different requirements concerning car insurance and the minimum requirements necessary to meet its laws.

Every state has fiscal responsibility laws that state that you must be able to pay for any liabilities that you may cause an accident.

Furthermore, most states require that each driver has bodily injury liability insurance.

In various states, licensed drivers may not register a vehicle without first showing proof that they have liability insurance.

Other states, however, request that its residents need only proof of insurance in the event of an accident or traffic violation.

Free Car Insurance Comparison

Enter your ZIP code below to view companies that have cheap car insurance rates.

 Secured with SHA-256 Encryption

Car Insurance Laws by State

The laws of each state change or renew on an annual basis. Therefore, some states did not have requirements for insurance in the past now do so.

Wisconsin and New Hampshire have the fewest requirements.

Requiring that motorists purchase car insurance for their vehicles is one of the ways states help drivers stay safe.

Insurance pays for many things including personal injury and damage to vehicles for victims of car accidents.

Enter your ZIP code now into the FREE tool at the bottom of the page to compare car insurance quotes!

Do I have to have auto insurance?

  • Car insurance is required in nearly every state
  • Even in New Hampshire, where it’s not required, if you’re at fault in an accident, you are liable to pay for the damages
  • Insurance will protect you financially as well as make it legal for you to drive

[/su_box]

In most states, some type of car insurance is required in order to drive. In fact, 49 states and the District of Columbia require that a driver of a vehicle show financial responsibility of some kind, usually in the form of liability insurance.

Even though there is one state that does not require car insurance (not including Wisconsin, which still requires proof of ability to pay), it is still a smart idea to have insurance to cover your liability.

Feel free to fill in your ZIP code right now to compare car insurance quotes from multiple companies.

Car insurance, especially liability insurance, is important to have if you drive a car. If you are in an accident, your out-of-pocket expenses will be high without it, and if there are bodily damages, you could also be sued by the other party.

Insurance helps protect your finances.

Which state does not require car insurance?

Although 49 of the 50 states require drivers to have a minimum amount of insurance, New Hampshire is currently the only state that does not require liability insurance or another form of financial responsibility.

Virginia is a state is a state that requires financial responsibility in one of two forms. Drivers can either purchase liability coverage or they can pay an uninsured motor vehicle fee of $500 when they register their vehicle.

Free Car Insurance Comparison

Enter your ZIP code below to view companies that have cheap car insurance rates.

 Secured with SHA-256 Encryption

What are the minimum requirements for liability insurance in the states that require car insurance?

Every state is different in regards to the minimum requirements that are needed for your vehicle.

For most states, there are minimum required amounts for liability coverage, medical payments, and uninsured motorists, although not all states require all three.

Under liability coverage, you need limits for bodily injury to one individual, bodily injury for each accident, and property damage.

Again, each state varies in their requirements, but the normal requirement is:

  • $25,000 is often the minimum needed for individual bodily injury
  • $50,000 for each accident bodily injury
  • $25,000 the minimum needed for property damage

If the state requires a minimum limit for medical payments, $1,000 for each occurrence is about average. For uninsured motorist coverage, states may require the same amounts that are required for liability coverage, but each state is different.

Free Car Insurance Comparison

Enter your ZIP code below to view companies that have cheap car insurance rates.

 Secured with SHA-256 Encryption

If I have the minimum required limits, is it necessary to purchase higher limits?

It is not legally required to have higher limits if you are already carrying the minimum amount. However, depending on the individual, many will choose higher limits to decrease the amount for which they are liable.

Keep in mind that if you are in an accident, once your limits have been reached, you are personally responsible for the amount over and above that.

If there is a lot of property and/or bodily damage, the cost may be a lot higher than the limits you have on your policy, which means you will owe a lot out of pocket.

This is a good reason why you may consider raising the limits on your policy, so you will not owe as much, if any at all.

If I live in a state in which car insurance is not required, why should I buy it?

Although car insurance may seem expensive on a yearly or monthly basis, not having it can be way more costly in the end. Even if your state does not require you to carry insurance, it is a smart thing to purchase it anyway for the benefits it provides.

If you do not have insurance and happen to be in an accident that is your fault, you are responsible for all damage, to the vehicles involved as well as any bodily damage to everyone involved.

These expenses add up quickly and will be a lot of money that you are responsible for paying. You may even be sued for compensation, which will cost you even more money.

Also, for most uninsured drivers who are in a car accident, they will be required to purchase car insurance after the accident as well as file for an SR-22 that has to stay in place for three years.

This, plus the cost of damages, is usually much more expensive than driving without insurance for a period of time.

If you are concerned about insurance costs, there are many companies out there that can get you basic insurance for a good price, which is usually worth it.

To find a company right now, just enter your ZIP code in the box below!

References:

  1. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vehicle_insurance_in_the_United_States
  2. http://www.nh.gov/insurance/
  3. http://wisconsindot.gov/Pages/home.aspx
  4. https://oci.wi.gov/Pages/Homepage.aspx
  5. http://www.naic.org/state_web_map.htm