Find out about state requirements and how to get cheap auto insurance in Alabama
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How to get the best auto insurance in Alabama
You might think that car insurance coverage requirements in Michigan or Arkansas would be the same wherever you live. But the fact is, requirements for car insurance can vary quite a bit by state.
If you plan to drive in Alabama, you’re required to be covered by liability insurance and keep proof of current insurance and vehicle registration in your car at all times. State law allows you to display your insurance ID cards on your phone, tablet or other smart device’s screen for proof of coverage when requested.
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Costs can vary wildly from person to person, depending on their provider and a multitude of outside factors. But as a state, Alabama sits near the median cost for car insurance nationwide, which is between $110 and $130 a month for an annual total of approximately $1,400 annually.
Factors that can influence your insurance cost include your driving record, your age and the kind of vehicle you drive. Location based factors can come into play as well, like crime rates where you live or work. The climate can even affect your rates if you live in a place known for extreme blizzards or hurricanes, because you’re more likely to use comprehensive coverage for flood damage, falling tree limbs or an ice-related accident.
Your proximity to urban centers will also factor into your insurance cost, because accidents are more common in cities than in rural areas. In a state like Alabama, which doesn’t have as many cities with heavy traffic as California or Florida, this is less likely to affect you.
8 tips for cheap car insurance in Alabama
Don’t drive a high-end car.With warm weather through most of the year, it might sound nice to have a sporty convertible, but it’s almost certainly cheaper to insure a Toyota Corolla than a T-top Corvette.
Drop collision and comprehension on older cars.Your car’s value determines your maximum payout after an accident or theft. If your daily driver is a 20-year-old pickup truck, you probably don’t even need collision coverage.
Increase your deductible.Your deductible is what you agree to pay after an accident. Raising it increases how much of the financial burden is on you after an accident.
Take care on the road.Accidents and tickets are known to increase your premiums. Keep your record clean to get the best rates, and if you go long enough without any accidents, you could even qualify for additional safe driving discounts from a provider.
Use anti-theft devices.Many providers offer discounts for car alarms and even passive devices like steering wheel locks. In some instances, you can install an alarm system after buying the car and still qualify for an anti-theft device discount.
Look for local insurers.While the biggest players in the insurance industry often claim they’re the cheapest, a smaller agency near you could be hungry for your business — and willing to give you a great rate.
Keep on top of your bills.In Alabama, like in most US states, insurance providers are allowed to view your credit score when deciding on a rate. The higher your credit score, the more likely you are to get decent rates.
Bundle your policies.Most providers give bundling discounts. Take advantage of what your provider offers by keeping your home or rental property insured with the same company that provides your auto insurance.
Does my credit score matter?
In Alabama, your credit score can be used to help or hurt you when it comes to car insurance rates. Independent studies have shown that drivers with poor credit scores are more likely to be involved in accidents than drivers with excellent credit, and in 47 US states, insurers are allowed to use this information to assess risk when they quote you a policy rate. This move is illegal in three states: California, Hawaii, and Massachusetts.
Your credit score is often one of the biggest factors in determining insurance rates, along with your driving record and your age. So if you really want to take a chunk out of your monthly insurance cost, raising your credit will put you on the right track.
State minimum requirements in Alabama
State minimum requirements for car insurance vary by state. To fulfill car insurance laws in Alabama, you must carry liability insurance that includes at least:
$25,000 for bodily injury or death per person.
$50,000 total for bodily injury or death per accident.
$25,000 for property damage.
When shopping for car insurance, you may see these liability limits written as 25/50/25.
Some states require drivers to carry uninsured/underinsured (UM/UIM) motorist coverage, which protects a driver if they’re involved in an accident with another driver that isn’t adequately covered by an car insurance policy. Alabama doesn’t require this coverage.
Because liability insurance does not cover potential damages to your car or your personal injuries, most car insurance providers in Alabama offer optional coverage that includes:
Collision. Pays for car repairs if you’re in an accident.
Comprehensive. Pays for car repairs if your car is damaged by something other than an accident — for instance, a fire or vandalism.
Medical and funeral. Helps cover medical bills or funeral costs after an accident.
Uninsured motorists. Protects you if you’re in an accident caused by an uninsured or underinsured driver.
Alabama provides an alternative to car insurance, but it’s a pricey one. To legally drive without car insurance in Alabama, you’re required to deposit at least $50,000 with the state, or file a Motor Vehicle Liability Bond for $50,000.
Nearly all states require registered drivers to carry specified minimum liability insurance. And if you’re financing or leasing your car, you could be required to buy additional collision and comprehensive coverage as part of your finance agreement.
What additional coverage can I get?
Many drivers purchase additional coverage beyond the state minimums to protect themselves and their vehicles. Insurance companies in the state of Alabama also offer:
Comprehensive.Covers damage to your car caused by something other than a collision, like weather or vandalism. Comprehensive insurance is often especially important in areas with high crime rates.
Collision.Helps pay for repairs if your car is damaged in an accident.
Medical and funeral services.Helps cover medical bills or funeral services as a result of an accident.
Uninsured and underinsured motorists.Protects you if you get into an accident with someone who doesn’t have insurance.
Rental car.Assists in reimbursing you for any rental car rent if your car is damaged in an accident.
Towing and labor.Provides reimbursement for towing or labor costs you may have incurred as a result of an accident.
Uninsured drivers in Alabama
Alabama requires all drivers to carry a minimum level of auto insurance, but there are always the occasional drivers who refuse or can’t afford to pay for coverage. No clear data is available about the number of uninsured drivers in Alabama, but estimates put it around the national average of 12%.
Yes you can — and that might be a great option if you’re in need of insurance but don’t need a six-month or year long policy. Some examples of this might include renting a car, returning home on a break from college, or planning to sell your car within a few days or weeks of when your current policy expires.
Alabama’s driving laws
Many traffic laws vary from state to state, so there are a few region-specific things to know before driving through the Heart of Dixie.
Tinting your vehicle windows is illegal in Alabama, except under certain conditions outlined by the state.
Coasting down hills with your vehicle in neutral is illegal; your vehicle must be in gear if it’s moving.
Driving over a laid fire hose is against the law.
If a vehicle is believed to be abandoned in a public place for 5 days or more, a police officer has the authority to have it removed.
Vehicles are required by law to have working windshield wipers.
Like all US states, Alabama has a few odd laws — one fine bit of Alabama legislation forbids you from driving while blindfolded — but most standard laws hold true in this state. Common laws you should observe include not wearing headphones while driving, never passing on the right or where there’s poor visibility of the road ahead, following speed limits and obeying all traffic signs and signals.
Alabama’s blood alcohol content laws
Laws concerning blood alcohol content (BAC) used to have some variance from state to state, but no more. No matter if you’re in Alabama or Wyoming, it’s illegal to drive with a BAC above 0.08%, and commercial drivers face even stricter rules with a BAC limit of only 0.04%. If you’re caught driving over the limit in Alabama, you’ll face hefty fines, a drivers license suspension and possibly even jail time.
What if I don’t have insurance?
If you are stopped by police or are involved in an accident in Alabama and you don’t have car insurance, you face stiff penalties including:
Fines. You’ll pay $500 for your first violation and $1,000 for any following violations.
Suspension of your license. The state will suspend your license for six months. Subsequent violations also come with a mandatory four-month suspension of your car registration and additional fees that start at $200.
Can I get SR-22 insurance in Alabama?
Yes you can. You may need an SR-22 form if you’ve been convicted of a severe moving violation, such as DUI/DWI or reckless driving, or if you’ve accumulated too many violation points on your drivers license in the past three years. An SR-22 form lets the state know that you’re carrying at least the minimum for auto liability insurance so you can legally drive again.
Even the smallest car accident can be traumatic, leaving you unable to figure out your next move. If you’re in an accident, you have a few important steps to follow to ensure that you’re safe and protect yourself against any unnecessary worries when processing your car insurance claim.
Safety first. Make sure that you and everybody involved in the accident is OK. If you need assistance, call emergency services immediately.
Notify your insurance company. After you’ve confirmed that all parties are safe, call your agent to report the accident. They will walk you through the information they need for your claim.
Document the accident. Protect your claim by taking down the name of any police officers at the scene. Take pictures of each car involved from different angles, and talk to any witnesses you might be able to contact for more information later.
Exchange information. Get the full name, contact info and insurance policy details from other drivers. Note the drivers’ car type, color, model and license plate number, as well as the exact location of the accident.
When speaking with other drivers, do not say that the accident was your fault. If you do, you run the risk of your car insurance company refusing to pay your claim.
Who’s at fault in an accident?
Alabama is not one of the 12 states that requires drivers to carry no-fault insurance. In states without no-fault coverage, typical insurance claims are paid out:
If you’re injured in an accident caused by another driver. The at-fault driver’s bodily injury liability coverage could help reimburse your medical expenses up to policy limits.
If you’re injured in an accident you cause. Your medical payments coverage, if you have it, could help reimburse your medical expenses up to your limits.
Alabama is a tort state, which means that a driver at fault for an accident in Alabama is required to pay the medical expenses of any victim of that accident. Victims are also able to pursue compensation for additional lost wages and “pain and suffering” — the legal term for physical and emotional distress resulting from the accident.
How to report a car accident in Alabama
Request a copy of the investigating officer’s accident report. In most cases, it’s best to do this in person; getting the report mailed to you will take more time and mail mishaps will delay your claims process.
Complete and send Form SR-13 to the Alabama Department of Public Safety. You are required to handle this within 30 days of the date of your accident.
When should I report an accident?
In Alabama, you must report an accident to the police if anybody is hurt or killed, or if there’s more than $500 in damages to any party involved in the accident.
When should I contact a lawyer?
You might not need a car accident attorney for a small property damage claim, like a fender bender or accidentally driving into a mailbox. However, it’s a good idea to at least consult with a lawyer for major car accidents that result in personal injuries to the driver or passengers, crashes due to negligence, preventable accidents because of road conditions or when your insurance won’t cover the entire cost of damages.
In Alabama, you have two years from the time of an accident to make a personal injury claim and three years for a property damage claim, which should allow enough time to discover any long-term effects of the accident.
To drive in Alabama, you’ll need to purchase liability insurance or set up alternative means to pay out at least $50,000. Research your car insurance options to find the cheapest coverage for your needs when driving in the heart of Dixie.
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Frequently asked questions about car insurance in Alabama
You can register most motor vehicles through your local county title or registration office.
Using a state database, Alabama’s Department of Revenue randomly selects motor vehicle registrations to determine if owners are maintaining liability insurance according to the law. Your proof of insurance will also be checked anytime a police officer pulls you over.
While each car insurance policy varies, it’s possible that your car insurance rates will go up if you file a claim. Some providers offer accident forgiveness programs that ensure your premium stays the same after your first accident. But in many cases, a claim on your policy raises your risk profile — and, in turn, your rates.
It could: Your car insurance has the right to cancel your policy at any time. But most providers reserve cancellation for policyholders who file multiple claims in a short time or engage in risky driving behaviors that result in multiple tickets or a DUI/DWI. You will typically receive notice from your car insurance company before it plans to cancel your policy.
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