We have been crashing cars as long as we have been building them. And we’ve made a lot more progress with the building than we have with the crashing. State car insurance minimums are in the news right now because Arizona is considering a bill to increase the required insurance minimums in their state. This is important because when the amount of damage in an accident exceeds what’s covered under the insurance policy the driver is often liable and it can result in catastrophic financial damage and often bankruptcy.<!–more–>
In states like Arizona, critics argue that insurance minimums are dangerously out of date and do not account for the costs associated with an auto accident. The Arizona state car insurance minimums are $15,000 for personal injury, $30,000 for total injury coverage, and $10,000 for property damage. These figures are denoted $15/$30/$10.
In an article for personal finance website NerdWallet, our founder and CEO noted, “You can’t even get an MRI for $15,000.” While these minimums are on the low end of the spectrum, there are states with personal injury insurance minimums as low as $10,000 and property damage minimums as low as $5,000. The proposed bill would raise Arizona’s minimums to $25/$50/$25.
We recently spoke with Rep. Brophy-Mcgee, the Arizona Representative sponsoring the bill, she explained the logic as follows:
‘Many people think they are protected in the event of an accident if they buy the minimum amount of insurance required by Arizona law. It’s simply not true. Unlike most states, Arizona hasn’t increased its minimum coverage requirements in 43 years, while the cost of medical care and property damage from an automobile accident has increased substantially. Simply put, the minimum insurance required by Arizona law is no longer sufficient to cover the average economic loss as a result of most injury-accidents.’
There are three types of insurance minimums in any auto insurance policy: personal bodily injury liability, total bodily injury for all passengers in the vehicle and property damage. Though there are several exceptions, total bodily injury is typically double the personal bodily injury amount. As is the case with other fees and costs associated with automobile ownership, such as the dealership fee, insurance minimums vary across the country. Using data from an article written by Bobbie Sage, a personal insurance expert, Mojo Motors created the accompanying infographics to show how auto insurance minimums compare from state to state.
Personal injury insurance minimums range from $10,000 (FL) to $50,000 (AK, ME, WI). The average amount is $24,000. At $15,000, Arizona has the sixth lowest minimum personal injury coverage.
Property damage insurance minimums range from $5,000 (CA, NJ, PE, MA) to $55,000 (WI). The property minimum in Wisconsin is more than double the next highest figure. On average, state property insurance minimums are $16,500. Arizona is one of nineteen states with a property insurance minimum of $10,000. Five other states have a lower minimum.
If the bill passes and Arizona increases auto insurance minimums from $15/$30/$10 it is possible that other states will follow. According to local insurance experts, raising the insurance minimums to the proposed amounts of $25/$50/$25 would cost drivers about $50 a year. The important thing is for drivers to realize that getting minimum insurance coverage isn’t always the best way to minimize costs.
Visuals by Sam Jackson