Hollay Ghadery Last Updated On: June 27, 2023

What’s Basic Car Insurance & Do I Need It?

Basic car insurance is exactly what it sounds like: It’s the base level of car insurance needed to own and operate your car. Simple, right?

Well, sort of. Here’s the thing: There are many different types of car insurance available and what you choose will depend on your driving habits and needs. So, while basic car insurance is the most basic option, it isn’t necessarily super easy to understand. 

For instance, every state has its own requirements for the minimum level of insurance needed, so when setting up your coverage you have to make sure you’re at least following or exceeding that limit. 

Then there are a host of other considerations. 

With the many nuances of basic car insurance in mind, we’re here to help you understand what you need to know about this type of coverage.

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Table of Contents

The Types of Basic Car Insurance Coverage

There are six types of basic car insurance coverage and each state will require you to have some if not all of these coverages. It’s a lot, sure—but these regulations are in place to protect you and other people. 

  1. Bodily Injury Liability Coverage
    This is usually the most important part of basic coverage for car insurance, and it exists to help cover you if you get into an accident and cause the other driver bodily injury. It can help pay for medical and legal expenses should they get injured, as well as any lost wages if they’re unable to work because of the accident.

    This is the most important type of basic car insurance coverage because if you get into an accident and cause injury to someone else, you can be sued for large amounts of money. If you’re unable to cover it, your personal assets could be used to cover the amount. By buying more than the state-required minimum of bodily injury liability coverage, you can protect your savings and assets.

  2. Medical Payments or Personal Injury Protection
    While bodily injury liability coverage covers the other passenger, personal injury protection covers you and your family (or any other passengers in your vehicle). This helps cover medical costs (including treatment and dental), lost wages, as well as rehabilitation and funeral expenses.

    No matter who is at fault, medical payments or personal injury protection can cover any such expenses. A note: medical payments aren’t available in every state so you may need to purchase personal injury protection.

  3. Property Damage Liability Coverage
    This insures the driver (including someone driving your vehicle with your permission) against any property damage that results from an accident, such as crashing into a tree or mailbox on someone’s property.

    Property damage liability coverage includes damage to someone else’s car, but also other fixtures like telephone poles, fences, garages, and more. This insurance type will help cover the repair or replacement costs. Accidents are unpredictable so it’s good to have coverage for property damage too since the costs that can result from damage to someone’s property can add up quickly.

  4. Collision Coverage
    This is another important type of coverage; collision coverage helps cover costs from damage to your vehicle. Whether you hit an object, another car, or flip/rollover, collision coverage can help cover the cost of the damages to your vehicle. It usually has a separate deductible. 
  5. Uninsured or Underinsured Motorist Coverage
    While some form of car insurance is required in every state, there are unfortunately still some people who go without it. A collision with this type of driver can be dangerous because they don’t have their own insurance to help pay for any costs related to the accident. 

    Uninsured insurance also helps if the other driver has insurance, but not enough. There are two subtypes of this coverage: One that covers damage to your vehicle from this type of driver and a type that covers bodily injury from an accident with this type of driver. 

    Uninsured underinsured motorist coverage also applies in cases of hit and runs, as well as if you’re a pedestrian hit by this type of driver.

  6. Comprehensive Coverage
    This is a great supplemental coverage option. It helps cover costs related to causes outside of your control, including:
    • Fire
    • Windstorm
    • Explosion
    • Hail
    • Theft
    • Vandalism
    • Hitting a deer or bird

Essentially, any physical damage other than hitting an object or another car is covered under this insurance type. Like collision insurance, comprehensive coverage typically has a separate deductible.

Additional types of car insurance include:

  • Roadside Assistance: This is for any support you might need for your vehicle while driving, such as getting locked out of the car or having a flat tire.
  • Car Rental: Car rental insurance helps cover the costs of renting a car if your car isn’t drivable. Many basic car insurances include this already, so double check before purchasing.
  • Gap Insurance: Gap insurance is optional insurance that’s great for newer vehicles and can be added to help pay the difference between what you owe on a lease or loan for a vehicle and what your insurance pays out if your vehicle is totaled.

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What Type of Basic Car Insurance Should You Choose?

If it’s an option, getting all six of these types of insurance is your best bet to ensure you’re fully covered should the unexpected happen? 

Where you live will also dictate which types are more important than others. For example, if you live in an area with unpredictable weather, comprehensive might be important to ensure your car is protected from the elements. Many basic auto insurance policies include these six types of coverage automatically, although they may be priced separately and vary in limits/deductibles.

In the end, it all comes down to choosing the basic auto insurance that’s right for you and your driving habits. If you rarely ever drive and just want to ensure you have the minimum amount of coverage for occasions you are on the road, you may want to exclude some of these coverage options. But if you drive daily, your safest route is to ensure you’re covered for all six types with basic full coverage insurance.

The Final Word on Basic Car Insurance

Having more coverage than you think you need is always ideal, because having to pay out of pocket or risk losing your savings and assets is not worth saving a few bucks a month. Basic auto insurance is designed to ensure everyone on the road has a minimum form of coverage, to help protect us all.

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Basic car insurance is the minimum car insurance you need to drive a vehicle. Whether you’re an occasional driver without a vehicle or a daily driver, basic car insurance helps protect you, your passengers, and other drivers on the road.

Basic car insurance typically covers at a minimum personal liability and also sometimes uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage and comprehensive coverage. Many basic car insurance policies cover all six forms of coverage: personal liability, comprehensive, collision, uninsured/underinsured motorist, property damage and personal insurance protection. These six types help cover anything that can happen to you or anyone else you encounter on the road.

All car insurance providers offer basic car insurance, so getting some type of basic car insurance is fairly easy. Make sure you know exactly what is covered and specify what you’re looking for upfront in order to get an accurate, tailored quote. We can help. Get a basic car insurance quote from us today.


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