Civil car coverage insurance, also known as third party liability insurance, is a basic form of auto insurance that covers injuries and property damage for which you are legally responsible. It protects you financially if you are found at-fault in an accident.
But is this barebones coverage enough for most drivers? Or should you spring for a more comprehensive policy?
In this Civil Car Coverage Insurance review, we’ll examine the pros and cons of civil car coverage to help you determine if it makes sense for your situation.
What is Civil Car Coverage Insurance?
Civil car coverage insurance, sometimes called third party liability, is the minimum amount of car insurance required in most states.
- Bodily injury liability – Pays medical bills for others if you cause an accident
- Property damage liability – Covers damage you cause to someone else’s property
- Uninsured/underinsured motorist bodily injury – Provides coverage if an at-fault driver has no or insufficient insurance
Civil liability insurance does not pay for:
- Damage to your own vehicle – No collision or comprehensive coverage
- Your medical bills – No personal injury protection (PIP) or medical payments coverage
- Rental reimbursement, roadside assistance, etc.
In short, civil coverage only pays for harm you cause to others and their property. It does not cover damage to your car or expenses you incur.
Why Drivers Choose Minimum Civil Car Coverage
There are a few reasons drivers opt for the minimum civil liability insurance required by law:
Cost – Civil coverage is the cheapest auto insurance option, with premiums averaging $500 per year or less. For drivers on a tight budget, this can be appealing.
Older Vehicles – If you drive an older, low-value car that’s not financed, civil coverage may be sufficient since a total loss wouldn’t be a major financial hit.
Part-Time Drivers – Those who only drive occasionally may feel comprehensive coverage is unnecessary for their limited time on the road.
Good Driving Record – Drivers with clean records often choose minimum coverage since they are less likely to cause an accident.
For some motorists, the low cost and simplicity of civil car coverage is suitable for their needs. But for most, the lack of protection makes it a risky choice.
The Problem with Civil Car Coverage Insurance
Though cheap, civil liability car insurance has some glaring gaps that drivers should seriously consider:
No Protection for Your Vehicle – With civil coverage alone, any damage to your car in an accident will come straight out of your pocket. Just one fender bender could result in expenses surpassing the amount saved in premiums.
Limited Liability Coverage – Most states have pathetically low minimum liability requirements. In Florida, for example, the minimum is $10,000 bodily injury per person. Just one trip to the ER could wipe out your coverage.
No Coverage for Your Medical Bills – Even if you’re not at fault in an accident, civil coverage leaves you to foot your own medical expenses. These costs add up fast.
No Rental or Roadside Assistance – An accident that leaves your vehicle undrivable can become a financial nightmare without rental reimbursement or roadside assistance coverage.
Gaps in Uninsured Motorist Protection – If an uninsured driver hits you, injuries to passengers in your car often aren’t covered. And civil coverage does nothing if you’re struck as a pedestrian.
No Protection from Lawsuits – Without sufficient liability coverage, your personal assets could be seized if you are sued after an accident you cause.
For all these reasons, civil car coverage leaves drivers dangerously exposed. All it takes is one serious accident to incur massive unexpected costs and financial devastation.
The Benefits of Comprehensive Coverage
Comprehensive insurance alleviates the gaps and pitfalls of basic civil liability policies. Here are some key advantages:
- Collision coverage pays for damage to your own vehicle, minus your deductible
- Comprehensive coverage takes care of damage from theft, vandalism, storms, fire, animals, etc.
- Uninsured/underinsured motorist injury protection covers medical costs for you and passengers if the at-fault driver lacks sufficient insurance
- Medical payments or personal injury protection covers you and your passengers’ medical expenses, often with no deductible
- Rental reimbursement pays for a rental car while yours is in the shop after an accident
- Roadside assistance covers on-site help or towing if your car breaks down
Though more expensive than civil coverage, comprehensive insurance provides peace of mind and protects you financially in the event of an accident – whether you or the other driver is at fault.
For just a few extra dollars a month, the added protection of a full auto insurance policy is well worth it for most drivers.
Reviews of Top Civil Car Coverage Insurance Providers
If you decide minimum civil liability insurance is your best option, choosing the right provider is key. Not all basic coverage is created equal.
Here are reviews of top insurers for civil auto coverage:
- AM Best Rating: A++ (Superior)
- J.D. Power Claims Satisfaction: 881/1000
- Monthly Premium Range: $142 – $328
- Discount opportunities including good driver, good student, defensive driver, federal employee, and multi-policy
- Robust mobile app with claims reporting and 24/7 roadside assistance access
- Highly rated claims service
- Mixed customer service reviews
- Some challenges bundling homeowners or renters insurance
With low premiums and highly rated claims servicing, Geico is a solid option for basic civil liability insurance. Just be prepared for impersonal support.
- AM Best Rating: A++ (Superior)
- J.D. Power Claims Satisfaction: 880/1000
- Monthly Premium Range: $122 – $287
- Easy bundling with other policies like homeowners, renters, and life insurance
- Excellent financial strength
- Local agents provide personalized service
- Slightly higher base rates than some competitors
- Average claims satisfaction scores
State Farm is a great choice if you prefer local agent support. Bundling options also make the higher premiums worthwhile for multi-policy discounts.
- AM Best Rating: A- (Excellent)
- J.D. Power Claims Satisfaction: Not Rated
- Monthly Premium Range: $44 – $178
- Very low rates, especially for drivers with accidents/violations
- Monthly payment plans available
- Rideshare coverage available
- Low maximum liability limits of $25,000/$50,000
- Poor rating for claims handling
- Mixed customer service reviews
The General offers dirt cheap minimum coverage. But claims satisfaction is below average. Make sure to understand policy limits before signing up.
- AM Best Rating: A+ (Superior)
- J.D. Power Claims Satisfaction: 879/1000
- Monthly Premium Range: $111 – $248
- Usage-based Snapshot program can net discounts
- Name Your Price tool provides transparent pricing
- Highly rated claims handling
- Chatbot fails frustrate some customers
- App glitches reported
- Rates increase quickly after accidents/violations
For high-risk drivers, Progressive delivers very competitive pricing. Tools like Snapshot and Name Your Price increase transparency. Downsides include robotic service and volatile premiums.
Is Civil Car Coverage Enough for You?
While civil liability insurance meets state minimum requirements, it leaves huge gaps in coverage that could prove financially devastating in the event of an accident.
Carefully consider these factors when determining if basic civil coverage works for your situation:
- Is your vehicle old or low value? If so, civil may suffice.
- Do you have ample savings to self-insure repairs, medical bills, and other expenses in the event of an accident? If not, upgrade beyond civil.
- Could you afford months of car payments plus rental fees if your vehicle was totaled? If that stretches your budget, get fuller coverage.
- Are you an infrequent or part-time driver? Civil could work if you rarely drive.
- Do you live in a no-fault insurance state where liability risks are lower? If so, civil coverage may be adequate.
For most drivers, the minimal price difference between basic civil and comprehensive coverage makes the added protection worthwhile. But assess your specific needs and make the best decision for your situation.
FAQ: Civil Car Coverage Insurance
What is the minimum car insurance required in my state?
Liability insurance minimums vary by state. Florida and Alaska only require $10,000 bodily injury liability per person, while states like Maine require up to $50,000. Check your state’s minimums.
How much does basic civil car insurance cost?
Average annual premiums for minimum civil coverage range from about $300 to $1,000 depending on your state, driving history, and other factors. High-risk drivers pay toward the upper end.
Does civil liability cover damage to my car?
No. Civil coverage only pays for harm you cause to others, not damage to your own vehicle. You’d need collision and comprehensive for that.
Does civil auto insurance cover repairs or medical bills for me and my passengers?
Unfortunately, no. Civil liability only pays for injuries/damage to others when you are at fault. To cover your expenses, you need medical payments, personal injury protection (PIP), and/or uninsured motorist coverage.
What is the difference between collision and comprehensive coverage?
Collision pays for damage to your car from a crash. Comprehensive covers hail damage, theft, vandalism, etc. They’re both needed for full coverage.
What happens if I’m hit by an uninsured driver with only civil insurance?
With only civil coverage, your own policy would not pay for injuries to you or passengers. That’s why many experts recommend adding uninsured motorist coverage.
Can I add roadside assistance to a civil liability policy?
Most insurers allow you to add roadside assistance as an optional endorsement. But coverage will be limited compared to a comprehensive policy. Expect to pay an additional monthly fee.
Will civil coverage pay for a rental if my car is in the shop?
No, rental reimbursement is not included with basic civil policies. You would need to add this coverage separately and pay an increased premium.
The Bottom Line
For many drivers, civil liability insurance simply doesn’t provide adequate protection. The small monthly savings compared to a full coverage policy aren’t worth the risk.
But for some motorists, like those with older vehicles, stellar driving records, robust savings, or cars that aren’t depended on for daily transportation, basic civil coverage could be suitable.
Carefully weigh the pros and cons and examine your specific needs. If you can swing the small additional cost, upgrading to full coverage is wise for most. But if you decide to stick with civil, choose a top-rated provider like Geico or State Farm.
No matter what policy you select, make sure you understand exactly what is and isn’t covered. Finding gaps in protection after an accident happens can be financially catastrophic. Discuss concerns with your insurer or agent and get the peace of mind that comes with proper coverage.