According to the Arizona Department of Transportation (ADOT), Arizona is one of the most dangerous places to drive a car. In 2017, there were 127,064 car accidents (919 of which proved fatal).
Nevertheless, Arizona has some of the most lenient car insurance coverage requirements in the country. Insurance premiums in Arizona are also relatively low— about $1,355 per year on average.
Let’s take a closer look at Arizona’s auto insurance system, minimum coverage requirements, and what to do if you get into a car accident with an uninsured driver in the Grand Canyon State.
Arizona has a fault-based insurance system. This means that the person responsible for causing a car crash is also responsible for paying for the damages.
This is different than a no-fault insurance system in which all drivers in an accident, no matter who is responsible, turn to their own insurance policies to cover the damages (such as in Florida).
In Arizona, a person who suffers an injury due to a car accident caused by another driver has three options:
Liability insurance covers bodily injuries and property damage caused by the insured individual and sustained by someone other than the insured. In other words, if you cause a car accident, your liability insurance pays for the other person’s injuries and damages.
Arizona requires that every motor vehicle on the road be covered by liability insurance. In addition to cars and trucks, this includes golf carts, motorcycles, and mopeds.
The required minimum amounts of liability coverage in Arizona are:
All vehicles registered in Arizona must be insured by a company licensed to do business in Arizona.
Failure to maintain the required liability insurance can lead to fines and suspension of your vehicle registration and/or driver’s license. Reinstating these privileges can be expensive and time consuming.
On top of that, if your license or registration is suspended in Arizona, you may not be able to obtain a license in another state. You may also be prevented from obtaining insurance in another state.
Despite the fact that liability insurance is mandatory in Arizona, an estimated 12% of drivers in Arizona are uninsured.
So what happens if you’re involved in an accident and the other driver doesn’t have insurance?
Let’s look at these options more closely:
If you don’t have UM or UIM coverage, you have the option of suing the driver. You can also sue the driver for any amount of damages you sustain in excess of the applicable policy limits.
The problem with suing an uninsured driver is that a driver who doesn’t have money to purchase insurance generally doesn’t have money to pay a judgment. Regardless, there are a number of legal tools an attorney can use to collect money from a defendant and you should speak to an attorney about your options.
While your liability insurance covers damages sustained by other people involved in an accident, it doesn’t cover your damages. Even in cases when you didn’t cause an accident, it can take a long time to receive money from the at-fault driver.
In these situations, you would benefit from having a policy that covers your damages regardless of who caused the accident. Fortunately, there are a handful of these optional coverage policies available in Arizona, including:
Have more questions about your rights in a car accident case in Arizona? An Arizona personal injury lawyer can help. If you have questions about your auto insurance policy, we recommend contacting your insurance provider.