From Grand Junction to Boulder, Fort Collins to Trinidad, Colorado has thousands of miles of roadways. They’ll take you from metropolitan Denver to the top of the Continental Divide and along the Santa Fe Trail. On any given day, they’re used by nearly 4 million licensed drivers. They log an average of 9,100 miles apiece each year and are involved in thousands of traffic accidents, including many that result in serious injury or death. Wherever you live and drive in the Centennial State, carrying adequate car insurance is both a legal requirement and commonsense protection. This is your guide to Colorado’s basic vehicle insurance requirements and laws.
Colorado state law requires you to carry a minimum amount of car insurance. Failure to do so can result in severe penalties that may include monetary fines and jail time. Colorado repealed its no-fault status. Under its current tort system, you may be liable for actual damages (expenses associated with property damage and medical costs), economic damage (lost wages and earning capacity) and emotional and physical pain and suffering.
The bare minimum car insurance requirement for Colorado drivers is:
$25,000 bodily injury per person per accident
$50,000 bodily injury for all persons per accident
$15,000 property damage liability
Colorado does not require you to carry additional coverage such as Uninsured/Underinsured Motorist, personal liability or Collision and Comprehensive. However, insurers are required to offer UM/UMI in the same amount as your bodily injury liability limits on new and renewal policies. If you reject it, you must do so in writing. Insurers are also required to offer you $5,000 in Medical Payment Coverage and you must opt out of the coverage or it will automatically be added to your premium. If you own property or other valuable assets, supplementing the minimum requirements can help you protect yourself from monetary loss.
Penalties for Failure to Carry Colorado Auto Insurance
You are required by law to carry proof of Colorado car insurance in your car and show it if a law enforcement officer asks to see it. The fine for a first offense is $500 and suspension of your license until you can produce proof of insurance. Subsequent offenses carry minimum fines of $1,000 and license suspension of four months. Third and subsequent offenses have minimum $1,000 fines and eight months’ suspension of your license. Courts may also order up to 40 hours of community service. There is a $40 reinstatement fee and you must file an SR22 proof of liability insurance form and maintain it for three years.
Insurers must report new policyholders to the Colorado Department of Revenue at least every month and have 10 days to report canceled policies. Records are kept in an electronic database.
Colorado Car Insurance Premiums
Vehicle insurance premiums are regulated by the Colorado Division of Insurance. Insurance companies are allowed to charge premiums and award discounts based on a number of factors that can include:
The type of car you are insuring
Prior auto insurance coverage
How much you drive
Your driving record
Your marital status
Your geographic location
How long you’ve been driving
Whether or not you use your car for business
Colorado also allows insurers to consider your credit rating to determine your premium.
How to Get the Cheapest Colorado Car Insurance Policy
You may be able to lower the cost of your premiums in the following ways:
Ask about available discounts for good driving habits, anti-theft devices, multiple cars on one policy, bundling your car insurance with your homeowners or renters policy, automatic or online payments and driving a hybrid or electric car
Compare quotes from a variety of providers on this website
Eliminate unnecessary coverage
Check to see if you qualify for any low-cost auto insurance program your state may offer
New Colorado Driving Laws
Laws regarding driving and car insurance can change frequently. It is your responsibility to stay current about the legal requirements in Colorado. The following laws have recently been enacted in Colorado and may affect your insurance coverage decisions.
A law enacted in 2009 bans the use of cell phones for drivers under 18 at all times. Drivers 18 and older can use hands-free devices only. All drivers are prohibited from texting, emailing and twittering. Cell phone use is permitted in cases of emergencies, which may include fearing for one’s life, reporting a criminal act, fire, traffic accident, road hazards and reckless driving. First time offenses are ticketed $50.
Following the legalization of recreational marijuana use, in 2013, Colorado also redefined “driving under the influence” and set legal limits for tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) in the bloodstream. A driver is now assumed to be impaired if a blood test shows THC levels of five or more nanograms per milliliter.
Effective 2014, any Colorado driver who refuses a sobriety test will be branded a persistent drunk driver. First offenders face a one-year revocation of their driver’s license. However, under the new “Interlock Bill,” the new law allows the driver to reinstate driving privileges after two months of no driving if the driver agrees to drive with an ignition interlock device on his or her vehicle for two years. The new law also lowers the blood alcohol level for drunk driving from 0.17 to 0.15.
Also effective 2014, A driver’s right to contest whether a law enforcement officer had a reasonable suspicion to pull him or her over when conducting a DUI stop has been reinstated.