Liability-only insurance is a type of auto insurance policy which provides coverage for the damages that you cause to another party. Liability-only coverage is sometimes called PLPD, which stands for personal liability and property damage, the coverages included in this stripped-down policy.
Bodily injury coverage, the “personal liability” part of PLPD, covers the injuries that you cause to another driver, their passengers and anyone outside your car, like a pedestrian. There are two coverages included in bodily injury: a per person limit and a per accident limit.
Property damage covers the damage that you cause to another’s property. This is usually the damage that you cause to another vehicle, but can also include any property inside that vehicle that was damaged, like a car seat, and damage to property outside of your car, like a fence or building that you hit.
Most states require that you carry a minimum level of liability coverage to drive legally. It is important to know that, while state minimum coverage may be cheaper than a full coverage policy, it does not provide any coverage for damage to your own car. Additionally, the minimum limits required by states are generally low and could leave you with out-of-pocket expenses if you cause an accident. Most insurance professionals recommend that you buy higher liability limits if you can afford to, and full coverage if you need coverage for your own vehicle. If you have a loan or lease on your car, your lender will likely require you to have full coverage.
Cheapest liability car insurance
If budget is your primary concern when shopping for auto insurance, you may be considering liability-only car insurance. Based on current quoted premium information obtained from Quadrant Information Services, the following companies offer the cheapest average premiums for liability-only state minimum coverage:
|Car insurance company||Average annual premium for minimum coverage|
USAA offers the cheapest average premium for minimum coverage but only sells insurance to members of the military, veterans and their immediate families. Erie, Geico, Auto-Owners and Amica Mutual all sell minimum coverage insurance at competitive prices too.
When choosing a company, there are several factors to consider in addition to price. You may also want to review a company’s customer satisfaction scores, coverages, discounts and digital tools. Everyone has different wants and needs when it comes to insurance, so getting quotes from several carriers might help you find the right policy for you.
When you are looking for cheap liability insurance, you will also need to know if there are other requirements in your home state. Twelve U.S. states fit into the “no fault” category, which means they require personal injury protection (PIP) coverage or require it to be offered. Some states, like New York, also mandate uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage. To drive legally, you will need to have all the types of coverage that your state requires. Your insurance agent or representatives from the companies you get quotes from will know what requirements are necessary; you will not likely be able to accidentally purchase coverage that is lower than the state minimum required limits.
Cost of liability-only car insurance
The cost of liability-only car insurance varies from state to state, as you can see from the chart below. The average annual premium for minimum liability coverage ranges from a low of $294 in Maine to a high of $948 in Michigan.
There is also a significant difference between minimum coverage and full coverage insurance in each state. In Maine, for example, full coverage costs an additional $671; in Michigan, it is $1,360 more than liability coverage.
Full coverage typically refers to the inclusion of comprehensive and collision coverage, which provide coverage for damage to your own vehicle. Additionally, the average premiums for full coverage that we have provided include a higher liability limit than is required by most states.
Because of the additional coverage options that you get with full coverage insurance, it is typically more costly than liability-only insurance, but it provides additional financial protection that you would not have if you have only the minimum insurance required in your state.
|State||Average annual premium for minimum coverage||Average annual premium for full coverage||Difference|
Reasons to purchase liability car insurance coverage
To drive legally in your state, you will need to purchase at least the minimum liability car insurance. If budget is your primary concern, liability-only coverage could make sense for you. However, be sure that you understand that it provides no coverage for your own vehicle. You may also want to consider how able you are to pay for the damages you might cause in an accident. If you hit someone and the damages exceed your insurance limits, you will be responsible for the overage out of pocket. Talking to an insurance agent can help you understand if it is a good option for you.
If liability-only coverage makes the most sense for your situation, you may want to consider purchasing limits that are higher than your state’s requirements. Although higher limits will likely cost more, they provide you with more financial protection if you cause an accident.
On the other hand, full coverage may be a better option for you if your vehicle is newer or relatively expensive. If you have a loan or lease, you will likely have to carry full coverage as a condition of your financing. However, even if you drive an older car, you may want to consider full coverage as a way to lower your potential out-of-pocket expenses if you damage your vehicle.
Frequently asked questions
What company offers the cheapest liability-only car insurance?
There is no one company that always has the best cheap liability insurance. Each insurance provider uses different metrics for assigning premiums, and each company looks at factors including the age and model of your car, your own age, marital status, and driving skills, and more. It may be helpful to get quotes from several companies to see who is cheapest for your own circumstances.
Is it enough to carry the minimum liability that my state requires?
Many experts suggest that if you can afford it, you should purchase higher liability limits. Even a moderate accident can cause thousands of dollars in property damage, and even more in medical costs. If a lawsuit results from the accident, you may find yourself facing significant financial difficulties. Talking to a licensed agent about your financial situation may help you to determine how much coverage to purchase.
Why are minimum costs so different in each state?
Every state sets its own minimum coverages. Some of the factors that may go into that determination include how often accidents occur, how many licensed drivers or registered vehicles are on that state’s roads and the average price of a car accident in that state. Because each state has different minimum coverages, the price for the coverage is different.
Bankrate utilizes Quadrant Information Services to analyze 2021 rates for all ZIP codes and carriers in all 50 states and Washington, D.C. Quoted rates are based on a 40-year-old male and female driver with a cleaning driving record, good credit and the following full coverage limits:
- $100,000 bodily injury liability per person
- $300,000 bodily injury liability per accident
- $50,000 property damage liability per accident
- $100,000 uninsured motorist bodily injury per person
- $300,000 uninsured motorist bodily injury per accident
- $500 collision deductible
- $500 comprehensive deductible
To determine minimum coverage limits, Bankrate used minimum coverages that meet each state’s requirements. Our sample drivers own a 2019 Toyota Camry, commute five days a week and drive 12,000 miles annually.
These are sample rates and should be used for comparative purposes only. Your quotes may be different.
Why trust us
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We use two key sets of customer priorities to evaluate insurance carriers and help you decide what to consider:
First: we evaluated customer satisfaction and complaints, financial strength and stability and overall costs based on average rates quoted to real drivers.
Second: we evaluated customer experience by assessing each provider’s customer service options through online capabilities and agent accessibility.