Ask an Agent: Is Car Insurance Always Required?

Find out why every vehicle should be equipped with auto insurance.
Christine Lacagnina Written by Christine Lacagnina
Christine Lacagnina
Written by Christine Lacagnina

Christine Lacagnina has written thousands of insurance-based articles for by authoring consumable, understandable content.

paul martin Reviewed by Paul Martin
paul martin
Reviewed by Paul Martin

Paul Martin is the Director of Education and Development for Myron Steves, one of the largest, most respected insurance wholesalers in the southern U.S.

Car insurance

You’ve been told all your life about how important car insurance is, but it might seem totally unnecessary if your car isn’t particularly valuable. When you’re unsure of your area’s specific requirements, you might be confused whether or not you actually need coverage, or how much of it is necessary. That’s why it’s important to find out the answers straight from the pros, aka independent insurance agents. Ask agents anything. They have the answers.

So when it comes to a car that’s barely worth the gas money you put into it, do you still need insurance? Is car insurance always required, or can it be skipped in certain instances? We’ve got the inside scoop from an independent insurance agent to help you answer these important questions, and much more. Here’s a deep dive into car insurance, including if you really need it and why.

Is Car Insurance Necessary Even if My Car Is a Junker?

That’s a legitimate question, but the answer is still yes, at least from a liability standpoint. States have minimum coverage requirements for a reason. While you’re not required to get collision coverage for damage that happens to your car, you are required to have coverage for damage you do with your car. You are legally obligated to pay if you cause damage to someone else’s vehicle or other property, or cause them injury with your car.

So, you always need to have some auto insurance in the form of liability coverage. If your car is a junker and doesn’t have any cash value if it gets totaled, that’s up to you to do a cost/benefit analysis of whether paying for collision coverage is worth it or not. So while you don’t have to have physical coverage for your vehicle, to not have liability coverage in the US is, frankly, just not smart.

Which States Have Minimum Insurance Requirements and What Are They?

Well, all states have them. Every state in the US requires drivers to carry property damage liability insurance, and all states except Florida require bodily injury liability coverage. Beyond these minimum requirements across the nation, your independent insurance agent can help you find out more about your specific state’s minimum auto insurance requirements. Your state may require you to have uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage, for example.

What Are the Most Common Car Insurance Claims?

Not convinced yet that you need to have car insurance? Check out these examples of the most common car insurance claims out there, to further prove just how important having coverage really is.

The most common car insurance claims include:

  • Rear-end collisions: The most common car insurance claims, by far, are rear-end collisions. Since you’re not at fault if you get rear-ended, the collision insurance section of your auto policy will reimburse you for your vehicle’s damage.
  • Damaged windshields: Windshields can be chipped or cracked by all kinds of things, including driving behind a truck on the freeway and getting hit by a rock. Having comprehensive auto insurance would protect you in this case.
  • Whiplash: After being rear-ended, the most common injury reported by drivers is whiplash. In serious cases, medical treatment is often required. Having car insurance would help reimburse you for the financial costs of your care and recovery.

Your independent insurance agent can provide you with even more real-life examples of why it’s so imperative to have the right auto insurance coverage before you hit the road.

What Is Bodily Injury Liability Coverage?

Standard auto insurance policies provide two types of important liability coverage, the first of which being bodily injury liability. Bodily injury liability coverage takes care of costs stemming from injuries or death that result from you or another driver on your policy driving your car. This aspect of your auto insurance reimburses for fees relating to medical payments, ambulances, and more. Injuries can be expensive, which is why having bodily injury liability coverage is crucial.

What Is Property Damage Liability Coverage?

The other type of liability coverage provided by standard auto insurance policies is property damage liability. Property damage liability coverage takes care of costs associated with damage you or another person driving your car inflict to property such as buildings, fences, mailboxes, etc., or to another vehicle. Coverage reimburses fees for repair of damaged or destroyed property and cars, and is absolutely critical for all drivers on the road to carry.


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Does My Car Insurance Cover Rental Cars or RV Road Trips?

It can. You can buy optional coverage called rental reimbursement when you rent a car, too. But transportation expenses are included in your auto insurance policy in the event someone steals your car. This coverage will pay for you to use a rental car for 48 hours, since most stolen vehicles are found within that time frame.

Your auto insurance also includes loss of use coverage which pays if someone else damages your car. The other person is obligated to pay for repairs to your vehicle and for your replacement vehicle, aka the rental car.

As for rented RVs, those can get a little tricky. Your car insurance covers the liability portion, or the damage you do with the RV, but most likely not the damage you do to it. You would need to sign a loss damage waiver when renting the RV and purchase additional coverage from the rental company in order to protect yourself from crashing or otherwise damaging the vehicle.

What if I Don’t Have Auto Insurance?

Well, you would be stuck paying any costs out of your own pocket for accidents and other perils. Without car insurance, you could get hit with a huge expense if you rear-end another driver and seriously damage their car and injure them. But car insurance is important to protect your vehicle against other threats too, like natural disasters. Without the right coverage, you might have to replace your car out of your own pocket following a particularly harsh storm.

Other Common Auto Risks Worth Considering Coverage For

Again, it’s not just the threat of accidents that make having car insurance so crucial. There are many threats to your vehicle that don’t involve other cars or drivers, and it’s imperative to consider those, too. To paint a better picture, take a look at a few of the most common auto insurance claims:

  • Hail damage: Hail can totally destroy vehicles during a severe storm. If you live in an area prone to hailstorms, you’ll want to have comprehensive auto insurance to protect your vehicle.
  • Vandalism: Cars can be vandalized in many ways, including being keyed, tagged, having the tires slashed, or getting broken into. Once again, damage would be covered under comprehensive auto insurance.
  • Theft: Whether you’ve left your car unattended at a ritzy hotel or just in your own driveway, your car can be stolen anywhere. Comprehensive auto insurance will reimburse the vehicle’s owner for the replacement value of the car.

Be sure to speak to your independent insurance agent about the common risks affecting all drivers so that you can get set up with the right coverage well in advance.

Here’s How an Independent Insurance Agent Would Help

When it comes to answering your important questions about car insurance and all other coverages out there, no one’s better suited to help than an independent insurance agent. Independent insurance agents search through multiple carriers to find providers who specialize in auto insurance, deliver quotes from a number of different sources, and help you walk through them all to find the best blend of coverage and cost.

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