How to Get Cheap Liability Car Insurance

by Quiana Darden Updated October 5th, 2021

Sometimes, car insurance seems like an unnecessary expense. It’s just one more bill to pay each month for something you hardly ever need.

It’s time to flip your mental script: Liability insurance is a good thing. It’s valuable protection that can save you from going broke in the event you’re in a major at-fault accident. And cheap liability insurance is real. We’ll tell you what it is and how to get it.

What is Liability-Only Car Insurance?

Liability-only car insurance covers other people’s medical expenses and property damage when you’re at fault in an accident. Your liability car insurance won’t pay you any money, but it still protects you. Wait — how?

You can place every type of car insurance into one of two buckets: insurance that pays for expenses incurred by you, the insured person, and insurance that pays for expenses incurred by other people in an accident for which you’re at fault.

For example, comprehensive/collision insurance, which pays for damage to your vehicle, would go in bucket number one. Liability auto insurance goes in the second bucket because it pays for other people’s losses. If you cause an accident and you don’t have liability insurance, you’re still on the hook for the costs of the damage or injuries you caused. You can even be sued for those costs.

Most states require liability-only car insurance to drive legally. It’s usually part of state minimum coverage, which means insurance that meets the requirements in state law and gives you basic protection.

State minimum coverage does not include comprehensive and collision coverage. This means you won’t have any protection if your vehicle gets damaged by an at-fault collision, a single-car accident, bad weather, or other circumstances when another driver’s not at fault.

The minimum insurance laws vary quite a bit, depending on where you live. Most states require bodily injury liability and property damage liability. Some require uninsured & underinsured motorist coverage, medical payments, personal injury protection (PIP), or no-fault insurance.

What Do the Liability Limits Mean?

Every auto liability insurance policy has three numbers attached to it, such as 25/50/25. They indicate the limits on your liability policy — that is, the maximum amounts your insurance company will pay. What does 25/50/25 mean?

  • $25,000 per person in bodily injury liability: Your insurer will pay no more than $25,000 per person injured in an accident for which you’re at fault.
  • $50,000 per accident in bodily injury liability: Your insurer will pay no more than $50,000 total for all people injured in an accident for which you’re at fault.
  • $25,000 in property damage liability: Your insurer will pay no more than $25,000 for property damage in an accident for which you’re at fault.

What is Covered Under the Bodily Injury Limit?

As you’d probably guess, bodily injury liability covers medical expenses related to injuries sustained by other people. Specifically, it can pay for hospital bills, insurance copays, and follow-up care, such as rehabilitation or nursing care. But that’s not all — bodily injury liability can also cover lost wages, pain, suffering, and funeral costs. It can also cover your legal expenses, should someone sue you over the accident.

What is Covered Under the Property Damage Limit?

Property damage liability pays to repair or replace property damaged in an accident for which you’re at fault. Usually, this means other people’s cars. But property damage liability can also cover damages if you hit someone’s fence, house, mailbox, giant garden gnome, etc.

How Much Liability Insurance Do I Need?

The first thing to consider: How much liability insurance does your state law require? For instance, Pennsylvania has pretty low liability limits of 15/30/5. Alaska’s minimum insurance requirements are much higher: To drive legally, you need 50/100/25 insurance. (But don’t worry about doing any math — if you’re shopping for cheap liability insurance on Compare.com, we’ll automatically show you policies that match your state’s requirements.)

A state-minimum policy may not give you enough protection, however. The average property damage liability claim was $3,841 (in 2018), and the average bodily injury liability claim was $15,785. While most state-minimum policies would cover those amounts, the claim amounts could be much higher if you’re at fault in an accident involving serious injuries or multiple victims. In most states, you can be sued for damages your insurance doesn’t cover.

So the real answer to “how much liability insurance do I need?” is: How much financial protection do you need? If you own few assets, a low-minimum liability policy might be enough. But if you have a house, savings, and/or investments, you’ll want to CYA (that’s “cover your assets”) with more liability insurance.

What Isn’t Included in the Cheapest Liability-Only Car Insurance?

Liability-only car insurance only provides the bodily injury and property damage coverage we described above. It does not include:   

  • Collision coverage, which pays for damage to your vehicle after an accident
  • Comprehensive coverage, which pays for damage to your car when it’s caused by something other than a collision
  • Uninsured and underinsured motorist protection, which pays for your losses if you’re hit by an uninsured, underinsured, or unidentified hit-and-run driver
  • Medical payments, also called Med Pay, covers medical expenses for you and your passengers after an accident, no matter who was at fault
  • Personal injury protection (PIP), which can also cover your medical costs, legal fees, lost wages, household help, child care, and funeral expenses, among others

Should I Switch to Liability-Only Car Insurance?

In general, it’s a good idea to have full coverage car insurance. That is auto insurance that includes not only liability but also collision/comprehensive, uninsured and underinsured motorist coverage, and other protections available in your state. However, this isn’t necessary or even realistic for everyone.

You may want to switch to liability-only car insurance if you…

  • Are on a tight budget, or are trying to pay down debt
  • Have few assets to protect
  • Recently had an at-fault accident or other claims, and your insurance rates went up as a result
  • Drive an older, low-value vehicle and therefore don’t need collision/comprehensive coverage

Which Car Insurer Has the Cheapest Liability-Only Car Insurance?

Wondering where to find the cheapest liability-only insurance? We ran the numbers for you, and here are the five insurers with the lowest average rates:

Aspire General – $43.50/mo.

Commonwealth Casualty – $52.67/mo.

Shelter Insurance – $53/mo.

Metro mile – $60.17/mo.

Sun Coast – $62.08/mo.

Aspire General serves customers in California. Commonwealth Casualty is a relatively new company that insures Arizona drivers. Shelter Insurance provides auto and other types of insurance in 15 states. Metromile, currently operating in 8 states, offers affordable pay-per-mile insurance. And Sun Coast is a California-based insurance company serving customers in 11 states.  

Tips for Finding Cheap Liability Insurance

Don’t overlook the smaller companies. As you can see, the insurers with the cheapest liability-only insurance aren’t the giant companies that spend billions on advertising each year. Instead, they’re startups and regional insurance companies.

Be honest about your driving record. To save money, you might be tempted to “forget” to mention past speeding tickets or accidents. Don’t do this! Every insurer will check your driving record, so fudging the details won’t help you get cheaper rates.

Compare as many quotes as possible. The only way to know if you’re getting the best deal is to look at personalized quotes for liability insurance side by side.

How to Find Cheap Liability Insurance for Older Drivers

Youth may have its advantages, but not when you’re shopping for cheap car insurance. Statistically, older drivers are safer drivers. That means their auto insurance rates typically go down (until the age of 75, when they creep up again).

If you’re an older driver, don’t assume your current insurance company is giving you the lowest possible rate. Shop around and compare prices! People who are retired, or simply drive less often than they used to, may get the best deal with pay-per-mile car insurance. Some insurers also offer special discounts for older drivers who complete defensive driving courses.

How to Find Cheap Liability Insurance for Teen Drivers

Cheap car insurance for teens can be hard to find. That’s because insurance companies know teen drivers are much riskier to insure than older drivers. Drivers aged 16 to 19 are more likely than any other age group to be involved in a crash: inexperience, alcohol, night driving, and distracted driving all increase the risk.

Teen drivers can reduce their insurance rates by keeping their grades high, qualifying them for a good student discount. Adding a young driver to a family policy may be cheaper than having them purchase their own.

How to Find Cheap Liability Insurance for Drivers with One or More At-Fault Accidents

According to Forbes Advisor, even if you had a clean driving record before, being involved in just one at-fault accident can raise your insurance rates by more than 40%. Two at-fault accidents mean an even steeper hike.

But if you have accidents on your record, don’t lose hope. Many insurance companies offer cheap liability policies for higher-risk drivers, including:

Commonwealth Casualty – $64.25/mo.

Gainsco – $86.91/mo.

Clearcover – $94/mo.

Direct General – $100.33/mo.

Dairyland – $101.83/mo.

Commonwealth Casualty serves customers in Arizona, while Texas-based Gainsco operates in 16 states. Clearcover, which promises speedy service and affordable rates, offers service in 19 states. Direct General and Dairyland specialize in cheap insurance for high-risk/nonstandard drivers.

How to Find Cheap Liability Insurance for Drivers with a DUI

If a regular at-fault accident raises insurance rates 40%, a DUI or DWI can potentially double the impact — we’re talking a rate hike of 80% or even more. It’s a hard lesson. The best way to find cheap liability insurance after a DUI or DWI is to compare as many quotes as you can, as different insurers may offer dramatically different rates. Then, drive carefully and be patient. Depending on where you live, your insurance rates may go down within three years (or more) following a DUI.

How to Find Cheap Liability Insurance for Drivers with a Speeding Ticket

A speeding ticket might not seem like a big deal, but it can make your insurance go up. If you have a ticket (or two, or three) on your driving record, expect rates 20% higher or more for the next three years.

Once again, it pays to shop around! Some insurance companies are more forgiving than others, so drivers should compare as many quotes as possible — and then ease up on the gas.

How to Find Cheap Liability Insurance for Good Drivers

If you have a flawless driving record — no speeding tickets and no at-fault accidents — congratulations! You’re eligible for low liability insurance rates. 

Compare quotes now to discover your personal best rate.

Should You Choose the Cheapest Liability-Only Policy?

You can use Compare.com to find the cheapest rates for liability insurance quickly… but then you have a decision to make. Is the most affordable insurance company the best one for you?

To answer this question, consider what’s most important to you. If you love the convenience of app-based customer service and claims filing, several high-tech insurance companies will be a good fit. If you prefer to speak with a real live person, look for an insurer known for personal service. If saving money is your number-one goal, then yes! Go for the cheapest liability-only policy you can find.

Car Insurance Discounts That Reduce Your Rates

Discounts are a sure-fire way to get cheaper liability insurance. While the type and number of discounts offered may vary by the insurance company, there are a few common ones you can expect:

  • A multi-car discount is one of the best discounts you can get on your auto insurance, saving you 25% or more.
  • Multi-policy discounts can save you up to 25% if you insure your home and auto with the same company.
  • Automatic payment or prepayment discounts are easy to score. They simplify your life, too.
  • Accident-free discounts and good driving discounts reward you handsomely for avoiding accidents.

The Cost of Full Coverage vs. Liability Car Insurance

After all this discussion of cheap liability insurance vs. full-coverage insurance, you’re probably wondering: What’s the bottom-line difference?

On average, on Compare.com, a liability-only policy costs $81 per month, while a full-coverage policy costs $156 per month. That’s almost double.

But don’t just go by the average! Your rates could be higher or lower. Get customized quotes for both levels of insurance coverage to see which is the best choice.

FAQs About Cheap Liability Insurance

Who has cheap liability insurance?

There’s no single auto insurer that offers everyone the cheapest rates. For people who don’t drive much, a pay-per-mile insurance company might be the least expensive option. For drivers with a few accidents or tickets, a specialty insurer might offer the cheapest insurance. In general, these five companies offered the lowest average rates for liability insurance on Compare.com:

Aspire General – $43.50/mo.

Commonwealth Casualty – $52.67/mo.

Shelter Insurance – $53/mo.

Metro mile – $60.17/mo.

Sun Coast – $62.08/mo.

How much liability insurance do I need?

Quick: Add up the approximate value of all the big stuff you own. That means your house, vehicle, bank accounts, investments — anything you could lose if someone sued you and won. That dollar figure will tell you roughly how much liability insurance you should have. Remember: It may be a pain to pay the bill, but auto insurance is there to protect you. Compare.com is here to help you find the best options.

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