Like most states, Connecticut requires that every registered motor vehicle be covered by a car insurance policy that meets certain minimum requirements, in case the vehicle is involved in a traffic accident. In this article, we'll discuss:
Connecticut follows a "fault" system when it comes to financial responsibility for injuries, vehicle damage, and other losses stemming from a car accident. This means that the person who was at fault for causing the car accident is responsible for compensating anyone who suffered harm as a result of the crash (although from a practical standpoint it's typically the at-fault driver's insurance carrier that will cover these losses, up to policy limits).
After a car accident in Connecticut, if you've suffered any kind of injury or damage, you can usually proceed in one of three ways when trying to get compensation for your losses ("damages"), including medical bills, lost income, property damage, and "pain and suffering":
Note: In no-fault car insurance states, claimants don't have this same range of options. If you're injured in a car accident in a no-fault state, you must turn to your own car insurance coverage for the payment of medical bills and other out-of-pocket losses, regardless of who caused the accident. Only if your claim reaches certain statutory thresholds can you step outside of no-fault and make a claim directly against the at-fault driver. Massachusetts, Connecticut's neighbor to the north, follows no-fault, but Connecticut drivers don't need to worry about no-fault for an in-state accident.
As touched on above, Connecticut requires drivers and vehicle owners to have the following minimum amounts of liability car insurance coverage:
This basic coverage pays the medical bills, property damage bills, and other costs of drivers, passengers, and pedestrians who are injured or have their vehicle damaged in a car accident caused by you or another covered driver, up to coverage limits. You can (and in some situations should) carry more coverage to protect you in case a serious crash results in significant car accident injuries and vehicle damage. Remember, once policy limits are exhausted, you are personally on the financial hook, so higher insurance limits can help protect your personal assets in the event of a serious crash.
Your liability coverage will kick in if any family member is driving your vehicle, or if you've given someone else permission to use it. It will likely also cover you if you get into an accident in a rental car.
Finally, remember that the liability coverage we discussed here doesn't apply to your own injuries or vehicle damage after a car accident. You'll need different (additional) coverage for that if you're involved in a car accident and no one else's coverage applies to your losses. For example, personal injury protection (PIP) or MedPay coverage can be used to pay your car accident medical bills, and collision coverage can pay for repairs to (or replacement of) your damaged vehicle after a car accident.
Connecticut requires drivers to buy uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage, which according to the state's DMV, covers "you, your relatives who live with you and your passengers if they are injured in an accident caused by an uninsured motorist, a motorist whose bodily injury liability limits are less than your uninsured/underinsured motorist limits or a hit-and-run driver." The required coverage is:
If you drive a vehicle without car insurance in Connecticut, you could face a fine of at least $100 and have your driver's license and registration suspended for one month. (For second or subsequent convictions, the suspension period increases to six months.) Failure to reinstate coverage may prevent you from registering any vehicle in the state. Note that these fines and penalties will likely pale in comparison to the financial hit you could take if you're in a car accident and you don't have car insurance.
The Connecticut DMV offers answers to frequently-asked questions on auto insurance compliance in Connecticut, including advice on choosing the right coverage. And the Connecticut Insurance Department offers a guide to understanding car insurance in the state.