How much car insurance do I need?
From liability insurance to medical payments coverage, there are all sorts of ways to protect yourself from the unexpected with auto insurance. But how do you figure out how much protection you need? The key is understanding what coverage is required by your state or lender, as well as how much you have to protect in case you’re liable in an accident or something happens to you and your property.
How much car insurance is enough?
The minimum amount of car insurance you’ll typically need is state-required liability coverage. This allows you to pay for some, if not all, injuries and damages you’re liable for in an accident. The most commonly required liability limits are $25,000/$50,000/$25,000, which mean:
- $25,000 in bodily injury per person
- $50,000 in total bodily injury per accident
- $25,000 for property damage per accident
However, individual state requirements vary widely — your state may mandate higher or lower limits than these, while also requiring additional coverages, such as personal injury protection. If you’re leasing or financing your car, your lender may require you to carry liability coverage above your state’s minimum limits, in addition to comprehensive and collision coverage.
Note that your state’s minimum car insurance requirements are just that — minimal coverage. It’s always a good idea to carry more liability coverage than what you’re legally required to so you’re not left paying the difference.
Bodily injury: 57% of Progressive customers choose more coverage than their state requires.
Property damage: 61% of Progressive customers choose more coverage than their state requires.
Use our car insurance calculator to estimate how much liability coverage, and other types of coverage, is right for you.
What kind of car insurance coverage do I need?
Looking for a quick take on which coverages you may need? The table below breaks down the most common coverages, what they cover, and whether they may be required or not.
|Coverage||What it covers||Required?|
|Liability coverage||What it coversInjuries & damages you cause||Required?In almost every state|
|Comprehensive coverage||What it coversDamage to your car caused by events outside of your control||Required?Only if leasing or financing|
|Collision coverage||What it coversDamage to your car caused by other drivers or objects you hit||Required?Only if leasing or financing|
|Personal injury protection (PIP)||What it coversPays for medical bills, funeral expenses, & more||Required?Only in some states|
|Medical payments (MedPay)||What it coversPays for medical bills only, in most cases||Required?Only in some states|
|Uninsured/underinsured motorist (UM/UIM)||What it coversPays for injuries & damages caused by drivers with too little or no insurance||Required?Only in some states|
How much auto liability should I carry?
If you have a home, savings, and other valuable assets, you'll want to carry enough liability coverage to protect them in case you're liable in an accident. Start by calculating your net worth using the equation below:
Value of home + value of cars + savings + investments — debt = net worth
The value of your home, vehicles, savings, and investments represents your primary assets. Your net worth is the sum of these assets minus your debts. You'll want to make sure you have enough liability coverage to protect your assets. The following types of liability coverage can offer you the protection you need.
How much bodily injury liability coverage do I need?
Since injuries can cost a lot more than property damage, you'll want your total bodily injury limit (the second number in the $25,000/$50,000/$25,000 expression mentioned earlier) to be higher than your net worth. For example, if your net worth is $90,000, then a good car insurance policy for you might be structured as $50,000/$100,000/$50,000, giving you $100,000 in total bodily injury coverage per accident.
Example:Chris causes an accident that results in $15,000 worth of medical bills for the injured driver. His policy covers up to $50,000 in bodily injury per person and up to $100,000 in bodily injury total per accident. Since his per person and per accident limits are well above the claim amount, his insurance could fully pay for the injured driver's medical bills.
How much property damage car insurance coverage do I need?
Like bodily injury liability coverage, your property damage liability limit (the third number) should cover what you have to lose. For instance, if you have $25,000 in property damage coverage and your net worth is greater than that, you're putting yourself at risk if you cause more than $25,000 worth of damage in an auto accident.
Learn more about auto liability coverage.
Do I need comprehensive & collision coverage?
Comprehensive auto coverage
What does it cover? Comprehensive coverage protects your vehicle from things outside your control, such as theft, vandalism, fire, collisions with animals, glass breakage, and damage from weather.
Is it required? No states require comprehensive coverage. However, if you lease or finance your vehicle, your lender will typically require you to carry it.
Should I have comprehensive coverage? Even if you own your car outright, comprehensive coverage might be worth having if your car is worth more than a few thousand dollars or if you can't afford to make repairs or buy a new one if it's damaged. At Progressive, the average monthly cost of comprehensive coverage is $11 for a six-month policy.
Important note: If you decide to add comprehensive coverage, make sure you choose a deductible that you could afford if you were to file a claim. A high deductible may save you more on car insurance per policy period, but you could end up with high out-of-pocket expenses if you file a claim. Learn more about comprehensive coverage and choosing the right deductible.
Example:Caitlyn, Chris’ wife, is driving late at night when a deer suddenly jumps in front of her car, causing $5,000 in damage. Unfortunately, they don’t have comprehensive coverage and are on the hook for the full $5,000 to repair Caitlyn’s car, which, despite being five years old, is still worth around $11,000. If they had comprehensive with even a deductible of $1,000, they would have still saved close to $4,000 in repair bills after factoring in the cost of coverage.
What does it cover? Collision pays to repair or replace your car if it’s damaged in an accident with another vehicle or object (such as a street sign or guardrail). With Progressive, your collision coverage can also pay up to $1,000 for your pet’s medical bills if they’re injured in a covered accident.
Is it required? No states require collision coverage, but many lenders will require you to add collision insurance if you lease or finance your vehicle.
Should I have collision insurance? As with comprehensive coverage, collision is typically worth having if you can’t afford to pay out of pocket for damages to your car or your vehicle is worth more than a few thousand dollars. With Progressive, collision coverage costs around $32 per month on average for a six-month policy.
Important note: If you add collision coverage to your policy, make sure you choose a deductible you can afford to pay. Learn more about collision insurance.
Example:Chris leaves his car parked on the street overnight. In the morning, he discovers that someone hit his rear bumper, causing $1,000 in damage. Chris doesn’t have collision coverage on his car, as it’s only worth around $2,000. He decided it wasn’t worth having on his car since any claim payout would be minimal, even with a low deductible. Plus, he knew he could afford to pay for repairs or a new car.
How much medical payments coverage do I need?
What does it cover? Medical payments coverage, or MedPay, typically covers medical expenses you or your passengers receive after a car accident, even if you’re riding in someone else’s car.
Is it required? MedPay is required in just two states: Maine and New Hampshire (if you choose to buy car insurance).
How much MedPay coverage should I have? Coverage limits typically start at $1,000 per person and max out at $10,000 per person. If you have health insurance, it might be worth getting enough coverage to pay for your health plan’s deductible. If you and your passengers don’t have health insurance, you should consider a higher limit or maxing out your coverage.
Important note: Personal injury protection (PIP) also provides coverage for medical expenses, in addition to lost wages and funeral expenses. If you have a choice between PIP and MedPay, PIP is almost always a better choice due to its expanded coverages.
Example:Caitlyn and Chris are in an accident while riding as passengers in their friend Ted’s car. Everyone is OK, but Chris and Caitlyn get checked out at the hospital just to be on the safe side. Chris gets a $750 X-ray, while Caitlyn gets a $1,000 CT scan. Fortunately, they have MedPay coverage up to $2,000 per person, so their auto insurance pays for both of their bills.
How much personal injury protection do I need?
What does it cover? Personal injury protection, or PIP, is like MedPay in that it covers you or your passengers’ medical bills. However, depending on your state, it can also cover lost wages, funeral expenses, and even housecleaning or child care services if your injuries prevent you from doing regular activities.
Is it required? Some states require PIP, but it isn’t required or offered in most.
How much PIP coverage should I have? PIP coverage limits vary between states, with some maxing out below $10,000 per person or as high as $25,000 per person. If you already have health insurance or other insurance policies that cover the same expenses as PIP, your state’s minimum coverage levels may suffice. However, you should consider adding more PIP coverage if:
- You have health insurance with low limits, coverage gaps, or high deductibles and co-pays
- You want additional coverage for lost wages, funeral expenses, or child care
- You frequently give rides to other people who could hold you responsible for medical expenses after an accident
Example:It’s Chris’ turn to lead the office carpool. After picking up three of his colleagues, he ends up in a fender bender that leaves two of his co-workers with $500 in medical bills each. They file a claim with Chris’ insurance which provides $2,000 in PIP coverage per person — enough to cover both of their medical bills.
Learn more about personal injury protection, including choosing the right coverages and amounts.
How much uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage do I need?
What does it cover? Uninsured motorist coverage (UM) protects you if you’re hit by a driver who doesn’t have insurance. Underinsured motorist coverage (UIM) provides coverage if the at-fault driver’s liability limits are too low to cover all your medical bills or damages.
UM and UIM coverage is often written out the same way as liability coverage. For example: $15,000 bodily injury per person / $30,000 total bodily injury per accident / $15,000 for property damage per accident. Some states may list UM/UIM motorist property damage separately from UM/UIM bodily injury limits. Also, you can sometimes drop UM/UIM property damage coverage if you have collision, since these two coverages overlap.
Is it required? Some states require UM/UIM coverage, but most do not. You may also need to carry UM/UIM coverage if you lease or finance your vehicle, depending on your lender.
How much UM/UIM coverage should I have? There are several states that require your UM/UIM coverage limits to match your liability insurance limits. But even if your state doesn’t require it, having the same limits for your UM/UIM and liability coverage is a good idea so you have an equal amount of protection both when you’re at fault or when you’re hit by someone else.
Thinking about increasing your limits? You’re in good company — many Progressive customers choose higher UM limits than the required minimum.
Important note: If you live in a state with a high percentage of uninsured drivers, but UM coverage isn’t required, you should strongly consider buying coverage. New Mexico, for example, had an estimated uninsured driver rate of 20.8% in 2015, according to the Insurance Research Council. Learn more about UM/UIM coverage.
Example:Caitlyn and Chris are rear-ended by another driver who doesn’t have insurance. The damage to their car totals $3,500. But since they have uninsured motorist coverage for up to $5,000 in property damage, their insurance pays for the repairs.
What additional coverages should I consider?
Rideshare insurance is a smart choice (often a required choice) if you drive under a ridesharing platform like Uber or Lyft. Rideshare coverage fills the gaps between your personal insurance and any insurance provided by the ridesharing company so you’re always protected, whether you’re waiting for a ride request or dropping someone off. Learn more about how rideshare insurance works.
If you’re leasing or financing your vehicle, gap insurance may be right for you. This optional coverage pays the difference between what you owe on your vehicle and how much it’s worth. So, if your car gets totaled, you’ll receive the actual cash value of your vehicle, plus the additional amount you owe on it so you can pay off your loan or lease. Bear in mind, you’ll need comprehensive and collision coverage to add gap coverage. Learn more about gap insurance.
When choosing auto insurance coverages, always keep in mind how much you could afford to pay for injuries, damages, repairs, or even a new car. The right policy is rarely the cheapest car insurance available, but rather the most affordable one that gives you all the coverage you need to get peace of mind.