What is Broad Form Insurance Coverage?

What is Broad Form Insurance Coverage?

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Broad form car insurance is a cheaper option when it comes to auto coverage, as it only covers one driver with minimum liability coverage. This means that coverage is excluded for anyone else who operates your car. Because of this level of risk, this type of coverage is only available in a few states.

Our guide will help you better understand broad form insurance to determine if it’s the best coverage option for you.

What is broad form insurance?

While the term “broad form” may seem like a wide range of coverage, it’s actually the opposite. Broad form insurance, often referred to as broad form named operator insurance, is a type of basic liability coverage, which can fulfill your state’s minimum liability requirements for auto insurance.

Only the driver's liability costs are covered under this type of policy. Broad form may appeal to people who want to pay as little for car insurance as possible and only need to cover their own liability and not that of any family members.

However, broad form insurance may not be available for every driver looking for cheap coverage. It’s currently only authorized in a few states, one of which is Washington. Certain conditions apply when it comes to what is covered under broad form insurance.

What does broad form auto insurance cover?

Broad form insurance is an inexpensive way to acquire liability coverage, which pays to insure you as the driver. However, broad form has one important distinction. Unlike most liability coverage which allows you to add multiple drivers on one policy, broad form will only cover one licensed driver on this policy.

This policy will exclude any driver operating your vehicle who is not the named driver on the policy. Because of this, broad form coverage is best for drivers who don’t allow anyone to drive their car.

If you own or drive multiple cars, you do not have to pay for additional vehicles under your broad form policy. But if you do not own a car, non-owner car insurance is a better fit. Since you need to have some type of liability coverage in most states, a broad form liability insurance policy can offer an inexpensive coverage option, especially for single-car owners.

Should you get broad form insurance?

When deciding whether broad form insurance coverage is right for you, factors to consider include:

  • What are some benefits of choosing broad form insurance over other coverage?
  • Are there limitations with broad form insurance?
  • Is broad form coverage the best cheap insurance option for me?

We recommend broad form coverage for those who are looking for cheap insurance, own a low-value car or drive other vehicles that they do not own.

Benefits to choosing broad form coverage

In effect, broad form is the same as liability-only coverage with only one driver on the policy. Because of this, you can save considerable money on your monthly premium. Unlike with standard liability coverage, family members cannot be added to your broad form policy.

If no one else is going to be driving your vehicle, you aren’t going to need to have coverage for additional drivers. Providing coverage for additional drivers and passengers can get pricey, so broad form insurance might be a cheap solution.

Though it is not offered in every state, this coverage can help you meet the minimum liability requirements to drive legally in states like Washington. This type of coverage is ideal for drivers who:

  • Seek bare-bones coverage
  • Drive alone
  • Don’t have children or dependents
  • Own a low-value vehicle
  • Don’t own a car

How much cheaper is broad form insurance than a standard policy?

Drivers could save an average $1,500 per year if they choose broad form insurance over full coverage. Unlike broad form policies, full coverage includes comprehensive and collision coverage and higher liability limits. But there is some level of risk when choosing broad form coverage, as the insurance company is only responsible for the driver on the policy. Below, we use the cost of minimum liability insurance for one driver and vehicle as a substitute for broad form insurance, as rates are similar, but broad form policies may be even cheaper than minimum liability policies.

Costs of minimum liability vs. full coverage for major insurers

Insurance ProviderMinimum liability coverage costFull coverage cost
Allstate$1,390$3,545
State Farm$712$1,737
Progressive$924$2,393
GEICO$819$2,158

Our insurance quotes are based on one driver, so, in this case, our minimum liability coverage is used in place of broad form insurance. Our sample driver is a 30-year-old man who drives a 2015 Honda Civic EX. State Farm offers the cheapest minimum coverage at $712, while GEICO charges about $100 more annually for the same type of coverage.

Drawbacks of broad form insurance

While it may be a cheap alternative in terms of coverage, broad form insurance will not allow you to add or purchase comprehensive or collision coverage.

So, if you are at fault for an accident, damages to your vehicle or passengers will be your sole responsibility, not the insurance company. If your car ends up being totaled, you will not receive any type of payment through your insurer.

However, broad form insurance does allow drivers to purchase personal injury protection (PIP) and uninsured motorist coverage if needed, which can cover certain medical expenses if you’re involved in an accident.

If you do not own a car and frequently drive someone else’s vehicle, broad form coverage will be considered secondary insurance. In other words, if the vehicle owner has insurance coverage, insurance claims will be made on their primary insurance before your broad form auto insurance.

Broad form insurance does not cover company-owned vehicles or those operating a motorcycle or RV, though some states offer broad form insurance specifically for motorcycles. Broad form car insurance isn’t the best option for everyone, especially if you own a newer vehicle or consistently drive with family or other passengers.

Is broad form coverage worth it?

Broad form auto insurance is the most bare-bones of coverage options for car owners and drivers. Broad form coverage is best for drivers who:

  • Own an older vehicle
  • Are single drivers with no family
  • Frequently drive vehicles that are not his/her own

However, if you need to put multiple family members on your policy or own a newer vehicle, you may want to consider other types of coverage. Ultimately, the choice is up to you on how much money you want to spend on protection. Consider your financial situation and whether you have enough savings to personally cover damage to your vehicle if an at-fault accident occurred.

Methodology

Our sample driver was a 30-year-old man driving a 2015 Honda Civic EX with no available credit history. This is equivalent to a driver with fair to poor credit, based on data from Quadrant Information Services. All car insurance quotes were evaluated from all available ZIP codes within each state.

The full-coverage policy for our sample driver has coverage limits slightly above any particular state’s minimum requirements.

Full coverage policy

Coverage typeStudy limits
Bodily liability$50,000 per person/$100,000 per accident
Property damage$25,000 per accident
Uninsured/underinsured motorist BI$50,000 per person/$100,000 per accident
Comprehensive and collision$500 deductible
Personal injury protectionMinimum when required by state

Please note that broad form insurance quotes were not readily available, and minimum coverage quotes were used in its place, as insurance quotes are found for just one driver. Our car insurance rates for minimum-coverage policies represent the average cost of a policy that meets state minimum requirements for auto coverage. Broad form insurance is only offered in select states.

ValuePenguin's analysis used insurance rate data from Quadrant Information Services. These rates were publicly sourced from insurer filings and should be used for comparative purposes only — your own quotes may be different.

Alexandria Bova

Alexandria Bova is a Technical Writer for ValuePenguin, primarily focused on the auto insurance industry. Her previous writing on personal finance topics covered the housing and job markets, education and healthcare, providing resources and advice to consumers looking to save, manage and make money. Alexandria's work has been previously published on MSN, Yahoo Finance and GOBankingRates.

Editorial Note: The content of this article is based on the author’s opinions and recommendations alone. It has not been previewed, commissioned or otherwise endorsed by any of our network partners.