Connecticut law requires you to carry coverage to protect both yourself and other drivers on the road from damages as a result of a car accident. Mandatory insurance coverage includes both liability insurance and coverage for damage caused by uninsured or underinsured motorists.
Connecticut’s mandatory insurance law makes certain that all drivers on the road be financially responsible in the event of an accident. In order to ensure this there are minimum requirements for car insurance that every driver must carry.
Drivers must have:
- Bodily Injury Liability coverage in the amount of $25,000 per person and $50,000 per accident for more than one person injured in a single accident. This pays for medical and other costs associated with injuries or death in a car accident.
- Property Damage Liability coverage in the amount of $25,000. This pays for damage that is done to another person’s vehicle or other property as the result of an at-fault accident.
- Uninsured/Underinsured Motorist coverage in the amount of $25,000 per person and $50,000 per incident to pay for injuries or death for you, your passengers, or anyone in your household who is involved in an accident with a driver who is not insured or whose insurance is not adequate to pay for the entire loss.
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For many drivers, the legal minimum is not adequate to provide protection from the high cost of an accident, particularly if there are serious injuries. One of the first options for Connecticut drivers to consider is increasing the liability limits above what is legally required. Uninsured/underinsured motorists coverage can also be increased to match higher liability limits and provide added protection.
In addition to increased limits on legally required coverage, there are a number of other options available to Connecticut drivers:
- Collision coverage, which provides benefits to cover damage done to the policy owner’s vehicle in the event of an at-fault accident. This coverage usually comes with a deductible and will pay for repairs or replacement in the event of a total loss. It also provides coverage for accidents in which no other driver is involved.
- Comprehensive coverage is an option that pays for damages or loss in a non-accident situation; this can include theft, vandalism, weather damage, and many other non-collision damage situations.
- Basic reparations/medical payments coverage is no longer mandatory in Connecticut and can be purchased to provide basic coverage for injuries or death, as well as lost wages and other costs associated with an accident involving you or a household member.
- Full glass coverage is an additional option that will provide coverage above and beyond comprehensive to pay for glass-only claims without a deductible.
- Towing and labor coverage, which pays for towing and any other roadside assistance in a non-collision incident.
- Rental reimbursement, which will pay for a rental car when your car is being repaired under a covered claim.
Driving Without Insurance Laws in Connecticut
It is illegal to drive a vehicle in Connecticut without first obtaining an insurance policy that meets the required minimums. All insurance companies in the state report policy information to the DMV, which is matched with the VIN on the registered vehicle to ensure compliance. If a vehicle does not have current insurance information or a cancellation or lapse is reported, the DMV will request proof of insurance from the owner.
The DMV will also select random vehicles for which insurance information must be provided via a letter to the owner. Failure to provide evidence of a current insurance policy to the DMV can result in penalties.
If the insurance policy on a vehicle lapses or is canceled, the owner of the vehicle must respond to the notification from the DMV, pay a $200 fine, and provide evidence of a new insurance policy. A driver who fails to respond to the notification will receive a suspension notice pending a hearing. This hearing can result in suspension of the vehicle registration and loss of the right to register or renew any vehicle.
Shopping for Car Insurance in Connecticut
Connecticut drivers pay well above the average across the nation for their auto insurance. An Insure.com study in 2017 ranked the state at number 3, with the average annual premium being $1897 compared to the national average of $1318.
There are several other factors that go into determining car insurance rates, including credit score, which Connecticut law permits insurance companies to use when determining rates. Insurance companies may weigh these factors differently, allowing drivers to shop for and compare rates. There are a number of discounts available in most cases such as good student discounts, good driver discounts, and homeowners discounts, so be sure to ask about them when shopping.
Connecticut does not currently have a state-run low-cost auto insurance plan available, so drivers should comparison shop to find affordable rates.
High-Risk Drivers and Insurance
State law requires all drivers to have insurance, but for drivers who are considered high-risk, this can be difficult to obtain. Insurance companies are permitted to determine which drivers meet their standards for insurance based on driving record and credit history, among other factors, and can charge higher rates to drivers who represent a higher risk. In some cases, they may even deny coverage.
Drivers who have been denied coverage on the voluntary market and cannot obtain a policy any other way can turn to the state’s assigned risk insurance plan. The Connecticut Automobile Insurance Assigned Risk Plan will choose an insurance company and assign the driver; the company must provide an insurance policy regardless of history. Under this plan, insurance companies can still charge the drivers high rates.
Some insurance companies in Connecticut also offer non-standard auto insurance plans that cater to higher risk drivers. In some cases, drivers may find better rates with a non-standard insurance plan than they would with the assigned risk plan.
Teen Driver Licensing in Connecticut
Teens in Connecticut must go through a multi-stage system in order to attain full driving privileges. This system starts with a learner’s permit and moves the teen to a license with certain restrictions before allowing a full, unrestricted license.
The system is designed to help teens remain safe on the road while learning and practicing driving skills. Connecticut’s teen driver restrictions are considered some of the toughest in the nation.
The first stage of the licensing process is the learner’s permit. Teens in Connecticut must be 16 years old to obtain a permit, older than in most states, where the age is often 15 or 15 1/2. A written test is required in order to get a permit, which can then be used to drive under these restrictions:
- Either a parent or guardian or a driving instructor over the age of 20 who has held a license for at least 4 years must be in the vehicle at all times
- No other passengers are permitted at any time
- Cell phone use of any kind is prohibited or any other electronic devices.
After 120 days with a learner’s permit, a teen can take the road test for a driver’s license if they have completed one of the following:
- 30 hours of driver education at a commercial driving school, including the Safe Driving Practices Program and 2 hours of parent training
- 30 hours in a High School driver education program, including the Safe Driving Practices and 2 hours of parent training
The test can be taken after 180 days with a learner’s permit should they choose the following option instead:
- Home training that includes 22 hours of classroom-type training, and 8 hours in the Safe Driving Practices program at a commercial or high school driver training class, including 2 hours of parent training
Additionally, teens must complete 40 hours of practice driving before qualifying for a license.
The restrictions on teen drivers are:
- No passengers are permitted for the first 6 months other than a parent or guardian, licensed driving instructor, or driver over 20 who has held a license for at least 4 years and is providing instruction
- After the first six months, immediate family can be passengers in the vehicle
- Until the age of 18, driving is prohibited between 11 p.m. and 5 a.m. except for school, employment, religious purposes, or in medical emergencies
- Cell phone use is prohibited at all times
At 18 years old, Connecticut teens can graduate to a full, unrestricted license. At this time all restrictions on passengers as well as curfew are lifted.
Teen drivers in Connecticut are required to adhere to financial responsibility laws as soon as they obtain a driver’s license. Most teens obtain insurance through a parent or guardian’s policy until they move away from home. Teens who are temporarily away from home at school can remain insured under the parent or guardian policy.
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