Cheap auto insurance in New Mexico
If you live in New Mexico or are planning to move there soon, you’ll need to know about the state’s requirements and overall trends on car insurance.
Are the laws overly strict? Is it an expensive place to insure a vehicle? Compare requirements, laws and average costs to get the best deal on insuring your car in this Southwestern state.
Average car insurance costs in New Mexico
New Mexico’s average annual cost for auto insurance is just below the national average, coming in at around $1,200. So if you’re older than 25 and don’t have any major violations on your driving record, you can probably expect to pay around this much for coverage.
Because drivers in large cities are considered at a higher risk for accidents than people who live in suburbs or rural areas, these urban motorists tend to pay more for their coverage. You’ll likely see higher rates if you live in Albuquerque, which has more than half a million people, than out in Gallup, with its 22,000 residents or Silver City with 10,000.
However, because car insurance costs depend on so many factors, you could also find your rates significantly higher or lower than this average.
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How can I save on my car insurance?
Looking for some ways to save money on your auto insurance in New Mexico? No matter what state you’re in, you can use some general tips to lower your premiums and get a better value out of your coverage.
Some of the factors affecting car insurance rates include:
- Age. Drivers younger than 25 and older than 65 typically pay more for car insurance because . Drivers younger than 25 — especially male drivers — are considered to be at high risk for car accidents. In general, the older you get, the lower your rates.
- Gender. Men can often expect higher premiums than women. Your age or marital status can affect your rates.
- Driving experience. Learner and probationary drivers typically pay more, which can compound the effect of age on premiums.
- Type of car. You might think screaming down the highway in a red Corvette sounds fun. But luxury or sports cars are almost always more to insure than sedans and minivans — mostly because fast cars tend to be driven … well, fast. This puts these cars at a higher risk for accidents.
- Occupation. People who have long commutes or who drive around all day for work — say, sales reps or transporters — can expect higher premiums. However, there are some drivers who have work vehicles, or coverage through their employers to cover mileage when they’re on the clock. You might pay less for your car insurance if you’re a teacher, government employee, healthcare worker or scientific researcher.
- Marital status. Insurers often treat singletons as less stable than their married counterparts. If you get married, you might see a premium decrease shortly after.
- Location. Some places are at higher risk of theft, vandalism and other potential hazards, which incurs higher costs. Urban drivers — such as those in Albuquerque — are at higher risk for an accident than people who live in, say, Gallup or Silver City. Similarly, if one area is more prone to flooding or storms, you can expect this to affect your premiums.
- Claims history. The more car insurance claims you’ve had in your past, the higher your premiums.
- Driving record. The more violations you have on your driving record, the more you can expect to pay for your car insurance. If you have a history of speeding, driving under the influence or starting a drag race at every red light, your insurer will likely know about it and raise your rates 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, three states prohibit car insurance providers from using your credit history against you: New Mexico, Massachusetts and Hawaii.
- Other drivers. Your insurer typically requires approval for the people driving your car regularly, and all of them affect your rates. Even the best drivers could see a substantial price hike by listing not-so-safe drivers on their policy.
- Typical driving habits. How far you drive, how often you get behind the wheel and where you drive all play a part in your car insurance prices.
State minimum requirements in New Mexico
New Mexico requires all motorists on the road to carry a minimum level of auto insurance:
- $25,000 for bodily injury to or death of one person.
- $50,000 for bodily injury to or death of two or more people.
- $10,000 for property damage in any one accident.
You might see this abbreviated to 25/50/10 when you’re shopping for policies. If you’re pulled over and your car insurance isn’t at least to these standards, you can be fined or even have your license or registration suspended for being underinsured.
Some states require that drivers purchase uninsured or underinsured motorists coverage (UM/UIM), which pays for damages or injuries from a hit-and-run or an accident with a driver without proper coverage. While New Mexico requires you to carry UM/UIM, you can technically opt out of this coverage if you submit a written request.
Optional car insurance coverage
Look into stronger types of insurance to better protect yourself, including:
- Collision. Helps pay for repairs if your car is damaged in an accident.
- Comprehensive. Covers you in case your car is damaged by something other than an accident — like a fire or vandalism.
- Medical and funeral services. Assists in paying for medical bills or funeral services that result from an accident.
- Rental. Helps you manage the financial fallout of car repairs.
What happens if I’m driving in New Mexico and I don’t have the minimum insurance?
New Mexico uses an electronic database to monitor drivers and their insurance coverage. So if your coverage lapses or there’s any misunderstanding, you’ll likely receive a letter asking to update your information as soon as possible. You’re usually given 30 days to prove you have legal, minimum coverage. It’s your responsibility to update your status with the New Mexico Insurance Information Database.
If you’re caught without insurance while driving, you can be fined up to $300 or imprisoned for up to 90 days — or both, depending on the severity of the situation and whether it’s your first offense. For example, a simple speeding violation without insurance isn’t likely to land you in jail, but if you cause an accident that results in injury or serious property damages, you could face jail time for your lack of coverage. You’re also likely to have your license or car registration suspended from your first violation onward.
What can I use as proof of insurance in this state?
In New Mexico, your auto insurance information is tracked by a state database. So whenever your coverage information changes, your provider is required to notify that database to keep your coverage current. If you’re pulled over by police and asked to show proof of insurance, show your insurance card that was issued once your insurance policy term began.
Uninsured drivers in New Mexico
Nationwide, an average of 12.5% of all drivers are uninsured. But New Mexico’s average is far above that — a whopping 21% of all the state’s drivers are rolling without insurance.
This is part of the reason insurance in this state isn’t cheaper, considering a lot of rural states tend to have insurance averages below the country’s overall average. With one in five drivers not carrying proper coverage, New Mexico strongly suggests uninsured motorist insurance to protect yourself against those elevated risks.
Car insurance for high-risk drivers in New Mexico
WAAIP assigns you an affordable provider who won’t deny you based on risk. Any additional risk you pose to the insurer is spread across the WAAIP network.
Can I buy temporary car insurance in New Mexico?
Yes, New Mexico offers temporary car insurance. You might need coverage for a short time for a borrowed car or rental car. It’s perfectly legal to purchase short-term car insurance for fewer than six months, but most insurance companies won’t offer this option. Call your insurance provider to learn your options or find a policy that lets you cancel for no or low fees and transfer to a longer-term option when you’re ready.
New Mexico’s driving laws
Most states in the US share a common set of core traffic laws, but every state has a few of its own rules and regulations. New Mexico’s unique laws, which are among the strictest in the country, include:
- Any drivers younger than 18 are prohibited from talking on cell phones or texting while driving, even with the use of a hands-free device. However, no statewide law exists banning the practice for drivers ages 18 or older.
- Driving on a sidewalk, except when crossing it for a driveway or parking lot, is illegal.
- Pedestrians always have the right of way on any road that isn’t an interstate highway.
- If police find good reason, you can be charged with reckless driving whenever you exceed the speed limits or disobey a traffic signal.
Drunk driving laws in New Mexico
While New Mexico has the same standards for a DUI as every other state — 0.08% for regular drivers and 0.04% for commercial drivers — you can be arrested with a lower BAC level if a police officer thinks you’re too impaired to drive. This might be because of a medication’s side effect or a drug’s combined effects with alcohol, or perhaps you’re sleep deprived and happened to have a beer after dinner.
Here’s the quick rundown of the consequences of DUI in New Mexcio:
|1st Offense||2nd Offense||3rd Offense||4th Offense||5th Offense|
|Jail||Up to 90 days||96 hours–364 days||30 days–1 year||6–18 months||1–2 years|
|Fines and Penalties||Up to $500||$500-$1,000||$750 –$1,000||Up to $5,000||Up to $5,000|
|License Suspension||Up to 1 year||2 years||3 years||Indefinite after 5-year review||Indefinite after 5-year review|
|IID Required||Yes||Yes||Yes||Indefinite after 5-year review||Indefinite after 5-year review|
Whatever the case, you should never get behind the wheel if you don’t feel like yourself. It’s technically not against the law to drive when you’re extremely tired, but after you haven’t slept for 24 hours, your impairment level is considered the same as having a BAC of 0.08% or more. You can be prosecuted for driving under the influence — even cold medicine or a strong painkiller can slow your reaction times and make you too drowsy to drive effectively.
Aggravated DUI laws
An aggravated DUI tends to carry harsher penalties, and that’s especially true in New Mexico.
- First offense. Additional mandatory 48 hours in jail.
- Second offense. Additional mandatory 96 hours in jail.
- Third offense. Additional mandatory 60 days in jail.
New Mexico considers repeat offenders to be at high risk for committing the crime again after they’re released, so these drivers are often required to complete additional drug testing and treatment programs.
SR-22 insurance in New Mexico
You won’t need to file for SR-22 insurance in New Mexico unless you’re moving to New Mexico with an out-of-state SR-22. You might need an SR-22 if you’ve gotten a DUI, lost your license or have too many violation points on your driving record. An SR-22 filing tells the state you have the minimum coverage required to get back behind the wheel.
What happens after a car accident in New Mexico?
Car accidents can be unsettling and scary, even if you’re in a small fender bender. Stay calm and follow these steps to keep your process as simple and safe as possible.
- Safety first. Check the people around you for injuries and your surroundings for any additional potential dangers. If someone is injured or you see danger, call 911 right away. If not, it’s still usually a good idea to inform the local police of what’s happened as quickly as possible. If you’re blocking the road and feel comfortable, move your car out of the way.
- Exchange information. Everyone involved in the accident should collect information like names, driver’s license numbers, addresses and cell phone numbers. Also write down information about all car’s makes and models and insurance policy.
- Notify your insurance agent. Call your insurance company before you leave the scene. Tell them what’s happened, and ask what additional steps you might have to take.
- Document the scene. Take pictures of the accident from all angles, especially the areas that got damaged. Take down the names of police officers and any potential witnesses to better protect your claim.
- Share your information with law enforcement. You’re required to report any accidents to the authorities.
Who’s at fault after an accident?
New Mexico is an at–fault, or tort, state. If you’re found at fault for an accident, you’re required to pay for the damages, including any potential medical bills to those injured. Victims have the right to further pursue compensation for lost wages and any “pain and suffering” caused by the accident.
When should I report an accident to the authorities?
The general rule of thumb is that when property damages exceed $500, or whenever someone is injured, you should let the police know. If another driver insists on involving police, you’re required to remain on the scene until the officers arrive and tell you it’s OK to go — otherwise you can potentially be charged with fleeing the scene of an accident.
When should I contact a lawyer?
If you’re being charged with a crime after a car accident, such as reckless driving or negligence, you’ll most likely want to seek legal help. Even if you’re never officially charged or taken to court by the state or the other driver in the crash, a good lawyer can guide you through how to protect yourself and next steps to take.
With New Mexico’s mandatory insurance laws and a relatively high risk of encountering uninsured drivers, at least the bare minimum coverage is necessary to get on the road legally. It’s likely you can find car insurance for lower than the national average, and with the right tools and tricks, you can narrow down the best insurance rates you’re eligible for.
Frequently asked questions
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