From Sandpoint to the Snake River, Lewiston to Selway, Idaho has thousands of miles of roadways. They’ll take you from the Panhandle, along the Oregon Trail and into Hell’s Canyon. Idaho’s roads are used by 1 million licensed drivers, who each travel an average of 10,000 miles a year. Along the way, Idaho’s drivers are involved in thousands of traffic accidents every day, including many that result in serious injury or death. Wherever you live and drive in the Gem State, carrying adequate car insurance is both a legal requirement and commonsense protection. This is your guide to Idaho’s basic vehicle insurance requirements and laws.
Idaho 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. Under Idaho’s tort system, you may also be liable for actual damages (expenses associated with property damage and medical costs), economic damages (lost wages and earning capacity) and emotional and physical pain and suffering.
The bare minimum car insurance requirement for Idaho drivers is:
$25,000 bodily injury per person per accident
$50,000 bodily injury for all persons per accident
Uninsured/underinsured coverage can be waived by signing a form. Idaho does not require you to carry additional coverage such as personal liability or Collision and Comprehensive. However, 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 Idaho Auto Insurance
Idaho law requires that you carry proof of Idaho auto insurance in your car and show it if a law enforcement officer asks to see it. Failure to do so can mean a fine ranging from $75 up to $1,000. If you are convicted of a first offense, you may be required to provide proof of financial responsibility for up to a year. Future convictions after an initial policy lapse is a misdemeanor punishable by a fine up to $1,000 and up to 6 months in jail.
Anyone who operates a vehicle in Idaho must have liability insurance whether the vehicle is registered or not. Idaho drivers must sign a statement certifying that the vehicle being registered is insured.
Idaho Car Insurance Premiums
Vehicle insurance premiums are regulated by the Idaho Department 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
Idaho also allows insurers to consider your credit history to determine your premium.
How to Get the Cheapest Idaho 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 Idaho Driving Laws
Laws regarding driving and car insurance can change frequently. It is your responsibility to stay current about the legal requirements in Idaho. The following laws have recently been enacted in Idaho and may affect your insurance coverage decisions.
Idaho bans texting for all drivers.
While it is technically legal to talk on a phone while driving, Idaho has a “distraction in/on vehicle list” that notes whether phone use played a role in a car accident. A driver can be cited for texting or chatting while driving at the time of an accident.
Idaho law prohibits drivers from leaving their cars unattended while still running. Drivers must turn off their engines, lock the ignitions and remove the keys from an unattended vehicle.
Idaho law stipulates that all motor vehicles must have 2 headlights/lamps on each side of the front of a vehicle. Those headlights must be used from sunset to sunrise and when conditions are such that a driver can’t see clearly other drives and vehicles within 500 feet.