Minimum requirements and how to get cheap auto insurance in Iowa
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Moving from state-to-state? One of the more confusing dilemmas you may face is your car insurance policy. Each state has its own insurance minimums and regulations, and you’ll need to know about the laws where you’re looking to move.
Iowa does not require you to purchase car insurance. However, if you get into an accident you’ll need to provide proof of financial responsibility. One of the easiest ways to do this is by simply purchasing car insurance.
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Are you a new driver?
4 years driving or less
More than 4 years driving
Average cost of car insurance in Iowa
Iowa tends to be one of the 10 cheapest states in the country for car insurance, with average annual costs between $1,000 and $1,100. So if you’re a driver over 25 with no serious black marks on your record, you can probably expect to pay something in that ballpark.
However, because car insurance has so many independent factors, other things could cause you to pay significantly more or less than that average range. Some of those factors include:
Age.Young drivers under 25, as well as seniors, will pay more for car insurance.Drivers under 25 — and especially male drivers under 25 — are believed by the insurance industry to be at high risk for car accidents. This means the older you get, the lower your car insurance rates will tend to be, until you reach a certain age.
Gender.Men can often expect higher premiums. This is sometimes further modified by age and marital status.
Driving experience.L platers and P platers typically pay more, which often compounds the effect of age on premiums.
Type of car.You might think screaming down the highway in a red Corvette sounds like fun, and you’re probably right, but luxury and sports cars are almost always more costly to insure than sedans and minivans. This is for several reasons, but mostly because fast cars tend to be driven fast, putting these cars and their drivers at a higher risk for accidents.
Occupation.People who have long commutes or who drive around all day for work — say, outside sales representatives or transporters — can expect higher premiums. However, many professionals who drive a lot have work vehicles, or else have car insurance coverage through their employers to cover their mileage when they’re on the clock.
Marital status.Single people are seen by insurers as less stable than their married counterparts. If you get married, you’ll see your premiums decrease right away.
Location.Some places are at higher risk of theft, vandalism and other potential hazards, which incurs higher costs.Urban drivers are at higher risk for an accident than people who live far outside the city limits. Similarly, if one area is more prone to flooding or storms you may expect this to impact your premiums.
Claims history.The more car insurance claims you have made in the past, the higher your premiums will generally be.
Driving record.The more violations you have on your driving record, the more you can expect to pay for your car insurance. If you’re notorious for speeding, driving under the influence or trying to start a drag race at every red light, your insurer will likely know about it and raise prices accordingly.
Credit score.Like it or not, nearly all auto insurance providers use your credit score to help calculate your risk before arriving at a policy cost. This is because multiple independent studies indicate that if your credit score is low, you’re more likely to be involved in an accident. However, there are a few states where car insurance providers aren’t allowed to use credit to determine rates — California, Massachusetts and Hawaii.
Other drivers.Only certain people will be approved to drive the car, and all of them impact the cost. Even the world’s safest driver will get a substantial price hike by listing another less-safe driver on the policy.
Typical driving habits.Your typical distance driven, how often you get behind the wheel and where you drive all play a part in your car insurance prices.
What if I don’t want to buy car insurance but need to provide proof of financial responsibility?
If you don’t want to purchase car insurance, Iowa law gives you several other ways to provide proof of financial responsibility after a crash. You can:
Provide cash, a certified check, a cashier’s check, a bank draft or a postal money order payable to the “Office of Driver Services” with the amount required.
Obtain a release from every involved party.
Provide an official statement that agrees to cover the costs to the injured or damaged parties.
Be excused from liability from a civil damage action suit.
Complete a warrant for confession of judgment that includes an agreement with a payment schedule.
Submit evidence of a settlement for damages or injuries (or both).
Car insurance in Iowa
You don’t need to purchase car insurance to legally drive in Iowa. However, if you’re looking for car insurance that will also serve as proof of financial responsibility, your policy will need to include:
$20,000 in bodily injury coverage, per person.
$40,000 in bodily injury coverage, per accident.
$15,000 in property damage, per accident.
Sometimes you’ll see this written as 20/40/15 when shopping for car insurance.
Some states require that you also buy uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage (UM/UIM), which protects them in case they get into an accident with someone without proper insurance coverage. Iowa is not one of these states.
Most drivers get additional types of insurance to better protect themselves, like:
Comprehensive. Helps pay for damages caused by things other than accidents, like weather or vandalism.
Loan/lease gap coverage. If your car is deemed to be completely totaled after a car accident, loan/lease gap coverage will pay the difference between what you owe on your car and it’s value at the time of an accident.
Medical payments coverage. Aids in paying medical bills incurred as the result of an accident.
Towing and labor coverage. Covers the costs of labor in case you need to tow your car.
Rental reimbursement coverage. Reimburses you for the cost of renting a car while yours gets repaired after an accident.
What happens if I’m driving in Iowa and I don’t have insurance?
You will not face any legal consequences by driving in Iowa without insurance. However, insurance can often help ease the cost of car accidents if you get into a crash.
Can I get temporary auto insurance?
Yes, you can. You might need coverage for a short period for a borrowed car or rental car. It’s perfectly legal to purchase short term car insurance for less than six months, but most insurance companies won’t offer this option.
Your best option might be to call your current insurance provider or an online provider to find out your options. You can also find a policy that lets you cancel for no or low fees, and transfer to a more long-term option when you’re ready.
Uninsured drivers in this state
Despite Iowa’s lax insurance laws, only 9.7% of drivers are uninsured — well below the 12.6% national average. Still, that’s a lot of uninsured drivers. To protect yourself from damages in a car accident, consider adding uninsured or underinsured motorist insurance to your policy.
Auto insurance providers for drivers in Iowa
Drunk driving laws in Iowa
Operating a vehicle while under the influence (abbreviated as OWI) is a criminal offense that endangers your own wellbeing, as well as the safety and property of everyone else on the road.
Third & subsequent offense
48 hours to 1 year
7 days to 2 years
30 days to 5 years
Fines & penalties
$625 – $1,200
$1,875 – $6,250
$3,125 – $9,375
Suspended for 180 days Restricted license IID required
Suspended for 2 years Restricted license IID required
Suspended for 6 years Restricted license IID possibly required
The courts could also require any of the following as part of sentencing:
Substance abuse evaluation
Vehicle impoundment or immobilization
Program for the supervision and treatment of OWI violators
Substance abuse treatment
Substance abuse reality program
Attend drinking drivers course
Iowa’s common consent laws
If you refuse to take a breathalyzer test or alcohol sensor test when requested by a police officer, you will probably have your license suspended for 1-3 years. The typical suspension is 1 year for your first offense, 2 years for a second offense, and 3 years for a third offense.
What happens after a car accident?
Oftentimes, when people get into accidents, we can underestimate the mental toll it can take — even minor incidents can cause disorientation. Keep calm, and do your best to follow these steps if you’ve been in a car accident in Iowa.
Safety first. Check that no one is injured. If possible, try to move your vehicle so that it doesn’t block the road. It can be a good idea to play it safe call the local police even if there are no injuries — they can help you through the process.
Exchange information. Make sure you exchange:
Names, addresses and contact details
Driver’s license numbers
License plate numbers of the vehicles involved
Auto insurance information or proof of financial responsibility for the motorists involved.
Notify your insurance agent. Before you’ve left the scene, call your insurance agent. Once they’re informed of what’s happened, they’ll be able to guide you through any bumps in the road and provide more specific advice to help you.
Document the scene. Take pictures of the scene, paying special attention to capturing multiple angles of where the damage occurred. Take down the names of police officers and any potential witnesses to better protect your claim.
Who’s at fault after an accident?
Iowa does not require any type of insurance, including no-fault coverage (aka personal injury protection coverage). However, Iowa is a tort, or at-fault state, meaning that whoever is judged to be at fault for the accident must pay for any damages.
When should I report an accident to the authorities?
If the car accident results in death, injury or property damage over $1,500, you’ll need to call the local police immediately. Make sure that you stay at the scene until the police officer tells you you can leave. If the law enforcement officer who investigates the accident files a report, you do not need to. If they do not, you must ask them for a report and file it yourself within 72 hours of the incident.
You don’t legally need any car insurance to drive in Iowa. However, if you’re ever in an accident, insurance can help protect your financial future. It’s usually better in multiple ways to have the backing of an insurance provider than to try and handle all the costs on your own after an accident.
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Frequently asked questions about car insurance in Iowa
Car insurance providers and policies vary, but it’s possible for your car insurance rates to 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 DUI/DWIs. You will typically receive notice from your car insurance company before it plans to cancel your policy.
If you’ve recently moved to Iowa, you have 30 days to register your car at your local Iowa Department of Transportation. You’ll need to provide your vehicle title, driver’s license, registration application and money for your registration fee.
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