Every Louisiana driver should understand a few basic aspects about our state’s auto insurance laws. It is especially important to be compliant with the auto liability insurance compulsory coverage minimum requirements.
As an auto accident personal injury and wrongful death attorney with law offices located in Baton Rouge, New Orleans, Hammond and Ponchatoula, Louisiana, I have personally witnessed the harsh consequences of ignoring this law. For example, owners and operators of vehicles that are uninsured can be subjected to penalties, fines, and the impoundment of their vehicles. If you do not carry liability insurance you are also at risk of being personally responsible for costs associated with any accidents you are at fault for. Finally, our state’s strict “No Pay, No Play” statute prevents uninsured injury victims from recovering for their damages or limits their recovery (a topic discussed in detail in a separate blog post).
Louisiana law requires that people carry automobile liability insurance coverage on any vehicle they own. Liability insurance covers the damage to another person’s property and the costs of another person’s bodily injuries caused by the owner of a vehicle or anyone driving the vehicle with the owner’s permission. It also covers damages caused by any person listed on the policy when driving someone else’s vehicle. It is important to note that every vehicle in Louisiana must be individually insured, not just the owner and driver. If a person owns more than one vehicle, all automobiles must all be listed on the policy, or otherwise insured, as well the usual drivers of those vehicles.
Liability coverage pays for damage caused by the driver of the insured vehicle up to the insurance policy’s pre-set monetary limits. It does not cover damages in excess of the policy limits. Consequently, the amount of insurance coverage a person purchases can vary greatly depending on that person’s financial situation.
As a general rule, wealthy people buy large liability policies to protect their fortunes while poor folks carry minimal coverage (legal) or drive uninsured (illegal). In a relatively poor state like Louisiana, roughly half of all drivers carry the minimum coverage allowed by law or no insurance at all!
Louisiana law sets forth the following amounts as the minimum allowed for auto insurance liability coverage:
$15,000 coverage for bodily injury to any one person
$30,000 coverage for total bodily injury for all people per accident
$25,000 coverage for property damage (i.e. damage to a vehicle)
This state-required minimum coverage is often referred to as a “15/30/25 Policy.”
Considering the potential penalties, it is important to make sure you have at least the minimum required liability coverage on all of your vehicles. Uninsured motorists can be subject to penalties, fines, fees, and other sanctions just for not carrying the required amount of coverage. Drivers who cannot provide proof of valid insurance can have their automobiles impounded and fees assessed until insurance is provided. Also, proof of insurance is required to complete most DMV transactions, such as obtaining a license or vehicle registration. Additionally, if you do not carry any liability coverage, you are at risk of being personally responsible for all of the costs and expenses of damages you cause in an accident. This means if you are in an auto accident and have no insurance, you likely will have to pay out of your own pocket for all of the repair costs and medical expenses you cause to another person, no matter how big or small they are.
Louisiana’s minimum coverage amount was established with the intention of being affordable for all drivers and providing a baseline recovery for injuries and other damages. Obviously, in car accidents resulting in severe injuries requiring hospitalization or surgeries, or multi-car accidents with extensive property damages, minimum coverage will be insufficient to pay for the damages.
Obviously, drivers should refrain from operating a vehicle if insurance cannot be obtained.
The bottom line in Louisiana is that the law requires you to carry at least a 15/30/25 Policy to legally drive on our roads. For reasons discussed in other blogs posts, you should go beyond that minimum requirement to protect yourself with additional coverages such as uninsured motorist and medical payments if you can afford it.
If you have any questions about Louisiana’s car accident personal injury or auto liability insurance laws, do not hesitate to contact our lawyers at 985-467-9525.