Your guide to purchasing the appropriate auto insurance in the Constitution State
Connecticut is nicknamed the Constitution State, and while there are obviously no car insurance requirements in the United States Constitution, Connecticut long ago passed a state law requiring drivers to carry a certain amount of car insurance.
Despite the state law, roughly 6.3 percent of drivers in Connecticut are uninsured.
Let’s take a look at Connecticut’s auto insurance requirements, including the penalties for driving without auto insurance and your legal options if you’re involved in a car crash with an uninsured driver.
Connecticut car insurance requirements
Connecticut law requires anyone who drives a motor vehicle or motorcycle in the state to carry liability insurance with the following minimums:
- $25,000 for injuries or death to another person
- $50,000 for injuries or death to all other people
- $25,000 for damage to another person’s property
In addition to liability coverage, Connecticut law requires drivers to carry uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage, which covers bodily injury to you, your relatives who live with you, and your passengers if they're injured in an accident caused by an uninsured motorist. The minimum amount required by law is:
- $25,000 per person
- $50,000 per accident.
Penalties for driving without insurance in Connecticut
Connecticut requires drivers to provide proof of insurance upon request from a law enforcement officer.
If you’re caught driving in Connecticut without the minimum car insurance required by law, you could face the following penalties:
- Fine ($500 for the car owner and up to $1,000 for the car operator)
- License and registration suspension
- Up to three months in jail
The most severe consequence of driving without insurance is that uninsured drivers who cause an accident are personally liable for all of the damages that result. This can be financially devastating if you cause an accident that results in an injury.
Keep in mind that even if you don’t have any money in your bank account, the injured driver can obtain a court order that allows them to garnish your future wages and sell your assets (including, in some cases, your house and vehicle).
The bottom line: Don’t operate a vehicle unless it’s insured.
Car accidents are complicated enough to deal with, but what happens if you’re at fault and have no automotive insurance? What if you’re not at fault?
Optional Connecticut insurance coverage
The minimum liability insurance required may not be enough to cover a serious car crash, leaving you personally liable for damages that exceed your policy limits. For this reason, many people choose to purchase additional liability insurance.
Along with additional liability insurance, drivers in Connecticut can purchase the following optional coverage:
- Comprehensive coverage provides coverage for losses other than those caused by a collision (vandalism, falling trees, fire, etc.).
- Collision coverage provides coverage for damage to your vehicle caused by an accident with another vehicle or an object (such as a stonewall).
- Med-Pay provides coverage for medical expenses incurred by you and your passengers regardless of who is at fault. Med-Pay limits apply per person and range from $1,000 to $10,000.
- Personal injury protection (PIP) provides the same coverage as Med-Pay, but also includes coverage for lost wages and transportation expenses.
Whose insurance applies if your friend or family member borrows your car?
Let’s say you let your friend borrow your car at a party so he can pick up some pizza. On the way to the pizza shop, he runs a red light and crashes into a Ford Taurus. The occupants of the Ford Taurus are seriously injured.
Whose insurance covers the property damage to the Ford Taurus and the physical injuries suffered by the occupants of the Ford Taurus?
In Connecticut, liability coverage typically follows the car. This means your insurance policy would cover the damage to the Ford Taurus and the injuries suffered by its occupants (up to the policy limits).
If the damages exceed your policy limits, your friend’s auto insurance policy may serve as secondary coverage.
Collision and comprehensive insurance also follow the car in Connecticut, so your policy would cover the damage to your car.
Does Connecticut have a new-car grace period?
When you purchase a new car, you’re required to add your new car to your current insurance policy (or get a new policy). Unfortunately, many people forget to add their new car or just assume that their current insurance policy will automatically cover their new car.
Due to this common mistake, most auto insurers provide a grace period (typically 2-30 days) during which you can drive your newly purchased vehicle before adding it to an existing car insurance policy. If you’re involved in an accident during this grace period, your current auto insurance policy terms will apply.
Your rights under the Connecticut Unfair and Prohibited Practices Act
In 1955, Connecticut enacted the Connecticut Unfair and Prohibited Practices Act (CUIPA). CUIPA has been revised many times over the years, but it essentially makes it illegal for insurance companies to unreasonably deny your insurance claim or engage in any deceptive acts, which include things like:
- Misrepresenting pertinent facts or insurance policy provisions
- Failing to acknowledge and act reasonably promptly after a claim is filed
- Failing to promptly investigate a claim
- Refusing a claim without conducting a reasonable investigation
- Failing to affirm or deny a claim within a reasonable time
- Forcing the insured to initiate or submit to litigation by offering substantially less than the amount ultimately recovered in litigation
CUIPA authorizes the state insurance commissioner to sanction insurers who violate the Act. CUIPA does not authorize a private cause of action, but an individual can file a bad faith lawsuit against the insurance company and use the specific acts prohibited in CUIPA to support the claim.
How to recover damages after a Connecticut car accident
Connecticut adopted a fault-based insurance system. This means that the person responsible for causing your car crash is also responsible for paying the damages.
If you’re involved in an accident that’s not your fault, you have 3 options for recovering damages:
- File an insurance claim with your own insurance company. In this situation, your insurance company will turn around and pursue reimbursement from the at-fault driver’s insurance company (this process is called “subrogation”).
- File a third-party insurance claim directly with the at-fault driver’s insurance company.
- File a personal injury lawsuit in civil court against the at-fault driver.
If the driver who caused the accident doesn’t have insurance, you can use your uninsured motorist coverage. If your uninsured motorist coverage doesn’t cover all of the damages, you’ll need to file a personal injury lawsuit against the at-fault driver.
Still have questions about car insurance? These resources may help:
- Can a demand payment letter keep your dispute out of court?
- Dealing with insurance claims adjusters
- Tactics insurance adjusters may use
- Steps to an insurance claim settlement
- Personal property damage in an auto accident
- Maximum medical improvement and your claim
- All about Independent Medical Exams (IMEs)