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Like most states, Iowa follows a tort system when it comes to compensating car accident victims for the damages they incur. To ensure liable motorists will be able to cover the costs associated with any property damage or bodily injury they cause, the state has minimum coverage requirements for all drivers. As a result, there are penalties for driving without car insurance in Iowa in an effort to enforce these requirements.
Pursuant to the Financial and Safety Responsibility Act of Iowa, registered motorists must be able to provide proof of their financial responsibility or they risk facing various penalties. The severity of the consequences will depend on the circumstances under which law enforcement personnel discover the violation.
For example, if they were merely driving without insurance and an officer realized as much during a routine traffic stop, the penalties would include:
- A fine of $250 or a community service sentence;
- Vehicle impoundment or the removal of the registration receipt and license plates; and
- A $15 fee to reinstate registration.
Those who cause a motor vehicle collision while driving without adequate coverage, on the other hand, face more severe penalties. These include:
- A mandatory $250 fine;
- Vehicle impoundment;
- License suspension for 12 months if the damage to other parties exceeds $1,500; and
- The registration suspension of all vehicles under the owner’s name.
Additionally, motorists who cause a collision while driving without insurance must satisfy several requirements in order to reinstate their license and re-register their vehicles. These include:
- Providing the Department of Motor Vehicles with proof of insurance or an SR-22 certificate;
- Covering the fees associated with vehicle towing and storage;
- Paying a $15 administrative fee;
- Paying a $200 civil penalty;
- Getting a passing grade on a driving exam, knowledge test, and vision screening; and
- Paying a $20 license renewal fee.
In addition to the fines and fees listed above, motorists who cause a crash when driving without coverage may also have to pay out of pocket for the damages that result. If the accident victims do not have uninsured motorist coverage, for example, they might attempt to sue the liable parties directly. In such a scenario, the at-fault driver’s financial security and life savings could be in jeopardy.
How Can You Find Affordable Car Insurance in Iowa?
At the end of the day, driving without insurance is incredibly risky, and it can eventually cost far more than purchasing a policy. Fortunately, there are ways motorists on a tight budget can find the minimum required coverage for an affordable rate in Iowa. Some tips for doing so include:
- Shopping around and comparing premiums from multiple providers;
- Opting for a plan with the highest possible deductible that you can still afford;
- Taking advantage of all applicable discounts;
- Driving a reasonably priced vehicle with a high safety rating;
- Maintaining a decent credit score and never missing a payment on any financial obligations;
- Following the rules of the road and maintaining a clean driving record; and
- Waiving optional coverage until there is more room in your budget.
What Are the Minimum Coverage Requirements in Iowa?
In the state of Iowa, the minimum liability coverage that motorists must purchase includes:
- At least $20,000 in bodily injury per person;
- At least $40,000 in bodily injury per accident; and
- At least $15,000 in property damage per accident.
Although it is wise to purchase more than the absolute minimum coverage, motorists who are facing financial hardship can have peace of mind knowing that if they purchase the above, they will not face penalties. Then, when their financial situation improves, they can consider adding more coverage to their policy—but not without shopping around for the best deal first!