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Standard Automobile Insurance

Standard automobile insurance policies are the most important types of coverage you as a driver carry. Make sure you understand these key auto insurance requirements.

This page:

Explains mandatory auto insurance coverages

Describes exactly what standard auto insurance covers

Lists your state's car insurance laws

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Liability Insurance

This is probably the most important type of car insurance, and it's required by most state auto insurance laws. Liability car insurance protects you against the cost of damage and injury that you cause to another in an automobile accident.

It's actually made up of two different policies, bodily injury liability, and property damage liability. As you might guess, bodily injury insurance protects you from the cost of personal injury to others, and property damage insurance protects you from the cost of damage you cause to any physical property.

You've probably seen automobile policies described by three numbers (like 50/100/25). These numbers refer to auto liability insurance.

They're usually called the split limits of liability insurance. Under our example auto liability insurance policy, you'd be covered for up to:

  •$50,000 worth of bodily injury caused to another person
  •$100,000 for bodily injuries caused to everyone
  •$25,000 worth of property damage.

Your state's car insurance laws will require a certain level auto liability insurance. You can find your state's auto insurance requirements here.

Even though it may be tempting to save a few bucks by going with the minimum liability required in your state, it is always worth investing in a little extra protection.

Medical payments insurance

This policy provides for the immediate treatment of injuries caused by a car accident. You, your family members and other passengers in your vehicle are covered, regardless of who is at fault for the accident.

Depending on the specifics of the policy, medical payments coverage may also compensate for lost wages or services of a person injured in the car accident.

PIP, or personal injury protection, is similar to medical payments coverage, but usually provides broader coverage. Many PIP policies provide compensation for lost wages, funeral expenses, and pain and suffering.

Most states that require personals injury protection are "no fault" states, but Maryland, Delaware, and Oregon also do. Again, you can find out your state's auto insurance laws and minimums here.

Underinsured and Uninsured Motorist Insurance

Both of these types of insurance protect you against injury caused in an automobile accident where the at-fault driver's liability car insurance coverage is inadequate. Though they're often lumped together, they're really two distinct policies.

Uninsured motorist insurance is needed when the other driver has no liability coverage.

Underinsured motorist coverage pays for the cost of your injuries that exceed the other driver's coverage maximum.

Most states require neither type of coverage, but some require one or the other, and a few even require both. They're more often required in no fault states.

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This wrebsite provides general information for educational purposes only and is not intended to be legal advice. We make no guarantees as to the validity of the information presented. Your particular facts and circumstances, and changes in the law, must be considered when applying insurance law. You should always consult with a competent auto insurance professional licensed in your state with respect to your particular situation.