What Auto Insurance Coverage Should I Purchase?

Minnesotans must protect themselves from underinsured drivers

Minnesota law requires all licensed vehicles to be covered by a certain amount of automobile insurance coverage, and some insurance policies may require even more than state law. In Minnesota, there are four types of mandatory coverage, and drivers must have the following minimum amounts of those coverages:

  • No-fault or Personal Injury Protection (PIP) coverage of $40,000 per person per accident
  • Liability coverage for injuries to one person of $30,000
  • Uninsured coverage and underinsured coverage of $25,000 for injuries to one person

No-fault, or the PIP part of your insurance coverage, pays for medical treatment and other out-of-pocket losses after a car accident, up to policy limits, regardless of who caused an accident. After no-fault limits are reached, accident victims may be able to access liability, uninsured, and underinsured coverage.

How much insurance should I have?

“First of all, everyone should have more than $30,000 of liability insurance; that, to me, is a no-brainer in light of the fact of what hospital visits cost and what vehicles cost,” says Andrew Rorvig, an attorney practicing in personal injury, specifically automobile accidents, since 2005. In 2019, he believes the minimum amount of liability coverage required by state law has not kept up with increasing costs— “$30,000 hasn’t been changed in decades.”

Liability coverage covers the insured if they cause an accident. “If I injure someone, my liability policy will cover that person’s damages,” explains Rorvig. Considering an increase in liability coverage is important, but Rorvig believes there is another area where drivers often fall short of coverage. “I think the thing where people really miss the boat—and, to me, it’s the most important coverage—is uninsured and underinsured coverage.”

What is Uninsured and Underinsured coverage?

Rorvig explains that uninsured and underinsured coverage “provide compensation to the victim if they are hurt by someone who doesn’t have any insurance or somebody who doesn’t have enough insurance.” That victim injured by a driver without insurance, or without enough insurance, to cover the damages, “is going to be able to access their no-fault coverage and their uninsured or underinsured motorist policy,” says Rorvig. “The uninsured and underinsured motorist policies provide insurance as if the at-fault party had liability insurance; it functions the same way except that it is the victim’s own policy.”

Underinsured motorist coverage allows a victim to recover from their own policy when the at-fault driver doesn’t have enough insurance. If the at-fault driver only has the required-minimum amount of liability of $30,000, and the victim has a significant injury, that $30,000 may only cover a small portion of the costs. “I can only make a claim for what I bought,” cautions Rorvig. “So if I bought $50,000 or I bought $100,000, that is all I have.”

Rorvig says, “I tell people that if you want to be safe, not only should you look at liability, but you really want to look at the uninsured and underinsured motorist coverages. That is what is going to protect your family if you get hit by a bozo with no insurance or someone without enough insurance.” He stresses, “those coverages are really, really important.”

Accident victims with questions about what injuries or damages will be covered by the insurance policies in place will want to talk to an experienced Minnesota personal injury attorney as early in the claim process as possible, to ensure they get the coverage they need.

For more information on this area of law, see our overviews of personal injury, trucking accidents, and motor vehicle accidents.

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