Car insurance in New Mexico
Minimum requirements and how to get cheap auto insurance in New Mexico
Minimum requirements and how to get cheap auto insurance in New Mexico
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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? Learn the answers to these questions and more in our guide to insuring your car in this Southwestern state.
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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.
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.
New Mexico requires all motorists on the road to carry a minimum level of auto insurance:
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.
Look into stronger types of insurance to better protect yourself, including:
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.
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.
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.
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.
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:
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.
An aggravated DUI tends to carry harsher penalties, and that’s especially true in New Mexico.
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.
You can file for SR-22 insurance in New Mexico. 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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