If you’ve ever moved to another state or spoken to a friend that lives elsewhere, you may have realized that there are differences between auto insurance policies across the nation, including how much coverage is needed, what coverage protects you from and if insurance is even needed at all. Here are some of the most frequent questions that our Farm Bureau agents receive when it comes to these differences.
1. Does my car insurance cover other drivers who hit me?
If the other driver is insured, their insurance company will pay for your damages. But what happens if the other driver doesn’t have insurance? That’s where uninsured or underinsured motorist coverage comes into play. Uninsured motorist coverage protects you if you sustain injuries in an accident caused by an uninsured driver. Uninsured motorist requirements protect drivers, and their insurance carriers, from the negligence of others. Some states require all vehicle owners to have this type of coverage, including Kansas, Minnesota, Nebraska and South Dakota. And while other states don’t require it, it is always an option to add to your policy in case of the unexpected.
2. Am I covered when I’m driving out of state?
If you travel out of state in your car, your home state car insurance coverage will most likely go with you as most car insurance companies extend coverage to any U.S. state. However, if you drive to Canada or Mexico, international coverages can differ. Also keep in mind that the rules might change if you are permanently moving out of state. For questions about traveling temporarily out of state, speak with your agent.
3. How does auto insurance change from state to state?
Every state, except New Hampshire, requires motorists to carry a minimum amount of liability insurance coverage. The minimum amounts for bodily injury range from $20,000 to $50,000 for all injuries. The minimum amount of coverage required for property damage ranges from $5,000 to $25,000. Some states require that proof of insurance be carried in the car at all times, while others do not.
4. Why does auto insurance vary from state to state?
With the invention of the car in the late 1800s, accidents began to happen. It became clear that laws needed to be put into place to govern how a victim of a car accident could collect from the offender. This led individual states to produce their own plans called “compulsory insurance laws.” Until 1956, when the New York legislature passed their compulsory insurance law, Massachusetts was the only state in the U.S. that required drivers to get insurance before registration. Now, almost every state has followed suit.
Because all 50 states are unique, the laws still vary by state because of these three factors:
Minimum auto insurance requirements: Most states have minimum liability requirements and these help determine the rates in each state.
Cost of living: States with higher costs of living may also have higher insurance rates.
Population density: The probability of accidents occurring is greater in areas with higher population densities. More people and more accidents equal higher rates.
5. How do those changes affect the insurance rates in every state?
Because the risk of getting in a crash varies, the rates also vary from state to state. An auto insurance company that has the lowest rate in one state may be higher in another. So don’t assume your existing carrier has the best rate in every location.
Also, when you move to another state, it’s important to let your insurance agent know as soon as possible for four very important reasons:
- To determine if your insurer does business in your new state
- To see if minimum liability requirements are different
- To find out what the new rates will be with your existing insurance carrier
- To have time to comparison shop for auto insurance in your new state
6. How do I know what kind of insurance is right for me?
To get the most accurate estimate of the kind of insurance you need to protect your vehicle and its precious cargo, talk to your local Farm Bureau agent. Your agent can help customize your coverage to fit your specific needs and provide you with the best possible quote.