From Davenport to Council Bluffs, Sioux City to Keokuk, Cedar Rapids to Cedar Falls, Iowa has thousands of miles of roadways. They’ll take you from downtown Des Moines, along the Mississippi River, through fertile farmland and to the shores of Lake Okoboji. Iowa’s roads are used by about 2.1 million licensed drivers, who each travel an average of 10,000 miles a year. Along the way, Iowa’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 Iowa’s basic vehicle insurance requirements and laws.
Iowa 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 Iowa’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 Iowa drivers is:
$20,000 bodily injury per person per accident
$40,000 bodily injury for all persons per accident
Uninsured/underinsured coverage can be waived by signing a form and returning it to your insurance company. Iowa 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 Iowa Auto Insurance
Iowa is a little different from most other states in that it does not have compulsory auto insurance law. Instead, they have the Financial and Safety Responsibility Act. You can choose to provide proof of financial responsibility or purchase the minimum coverage shown above. If you can’t produce one or the other after causing personal injury or damages exceeding $1,000 to the other party in a car accident, both your driver’s license and vehicle registration will be suspended, and you’ll have to provide proof of a valid Iowa car insurance policy to reinstate them (or post a bond equal to $55,000).
If you can’t show financial responsibility, you will be liable for all expenses associated with your accident, get written releases from everyone whose person or property you damaged and file an agreement to pay for them on an installment plan. Eventually, you’ll have to provide proof to the state that you met your obligation. For complete details of the penalties for driving without insurance and causing an accident, see the Iowa Department of Transportation.
Iowa Car Insurance Premiums
Vehicle insurance premiums are regulated by the Iowa Insurance Division. 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
Iowa also allows insurers to consider your credit history to determine your premium.
How to Get the Cheapest Iowa 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 Iowa Driving Laws
Laws regarding driving and car insurance can change frequently. It is your responsibility to stay current about the legal requirements in Iowa. The following laws have recently been enacted in Iowa and may affect your insurance coverage decisions.
Iowa bans texting for all drivers and bans the use of all cell phones (hand-held or hands-free) for novice drivers. Iowa defines novice drivers as all drivers with a restricted or intermediate license.
Effective 2013, Iowa required that young drivers must carry an instructional license for a full year before applying for an intermediate license.
Since 2013, young drivers are limited to one unrelated minor passenger who can ride with an unsupervised drivers during the first six months after being issued an intermediate license. This limit does not apply to a young driver being supervised by an adult.