Learn how to protect yourself from uninsured drivers
Navigating Idaho's roads can be risky, but car insurance provides the protection and peace of mind you need. This comprehensive guide covers mandatory car insurance laws, optional coverage, and helpful tips for dealing with accidents involving uninsured drivers in Idaho. Stay informed and stay protected on the road.
Car accidents can be emotionally, physically, and financially devastating. This is where car insurance steps in, providing you with the protection and peace of mind you need to navigate Idaho’s roads.
Despite the clear benefits of auto insurance, approximately 13 percent of Idaho drivers are uninsured, according to the Insurance Information Institute.
In this article, we’ll explore car insurance requirements in Idaho, outline the different types of coverage, and offer tips for those who have been injured in an accident with an uninsured driver.
Idaho’s mandatory car insurance laws
Like most states, Idaho requires drivers to carry liability insurance. Liability insurance is designed to cover the expenses of the other party involved in an accident for which you are at fault.
Under Idaho Code § 49-1229, Idaho drivers must carry the following amounts of liability insurance:
- Bodily Injury Liability: $25,000 per person and $50,000 per accident
- Property Damage Liability: $15,000 per accident
It’s important to note that the minimum required liability insurance may not be enough to cover the damages caused by an accident.
Take a look at the average economic cost of a car accident in 2021:
|Average economic cost of a car accident by injury severity (2021)|
|Source: National Safety Council|
If the car accident damages exceed your coverage limits, you’ll be personally responsible for paying those damages. For this reason, many people choose to purchase liability insurance that exceeds the minimum requirements.
Penalties for driving without car insurance in Idaho
In Idaho, driving while uninsured is a serious violation that can result in several penalties. More specifically, under Idaho Code § 49-1232, the penalties for driving without mandatory liability insurance include:
- Fines: A first-time offense for driving without insurance can result in a fine of $75. Subsequent offenses within five years of the first violation can lead to fines of up to $1,000.
- License suspension: If you’re convicted of driving without insurance, your driver's license may be suspended for a period of up to six months. To reinstate your license, you will need to provide proof of insurance and pay a reinstatement fee.
- Registration suspension: Your vehicle registration may be suspended if you’re caught driving without insurance. To reinstate your registration, you must provide proof of insurance and pay any applicable fees.
- SR-22 requirement: In some cases, you may be required to file an SR-22 certificate with the Idaho Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) as proof of insurance for a specified period.
The most severe consequence of driving without insurance, however, is that an uninsured driver who causes an accident is personally liable for all of the damages that result. If you don’t have any money in your bank account, the injured driver can obtain a court order that allows them to garnish your future wages and sell some of your assets.
Optional car insurance coverage in Idaho
Along with additional liability insurance, drivers in Idaho can purchase the following optional coverage:
- Comprehensive coverage provides coverage for losses other than those caused by a collision (vandalism, falling objects, fire, etc.).
- Collision coverage provides coverage for damage to your vehicle caused by an accident with another vehicle or an object (such as a fence).
- MedPay provides coverage for medical expenses incurred by you and your passengers, regardless of who is at fault.
- Uninsured motorist (UM) coverage provides coverage for bodily injury and property damage sustained by you or the passengers in your vehicle as a result of an accident involving an uninsured driver.
- Underinsured motorist (UIM) coverage provides coverage for bodily injury and property damage sustained by you or the passengers in your vehicle as a result of an accident involving a driver who has insufficient insurance to cover the damages.
Insurance providers in Idaho must offer UM and UIM coverage. However, the named insured has the option to decline these coverages in writing. Insurers must present a disclosure to the named insured that explains the UM/UIM coverages, offers the option to refuse one or both coverages, and clarifies the distinctions between the two types of coverage.
How Idaho's "at-fault" system impacts car insurance claims
Idaho operates under an "at-fault" system for car insurance claims, which means the driver who is found to be at fault for the accident is responsible for covering the expenses of the other party. If you’re at fault, your liability insurance will help cover these costs up to the limits of your policy. However, if the other driver is at fault, you may file a claim against their insurance policy to recover your expenses.
In some cases, fault may be shared.
Idaho follows the comparative fault rule, also known as the comparative negligence rule, which allows accident victims to recover damages even if they’re partially at fault for the accident.
Under this rule, the amount of compensation an injured party can receive will be reduced by the percentage of their own fault in the accident.
Here's an example to illustrate Idaho's comparative fault rule:
Suppose you were involved in a car accident where another driver ran a stop sign and collided with your vehicle. However, at the time of the accident, you were driving 10 miles per hour over the speed limit. After an investigation, it’s determined that you were 10 percent at fault for the accident, while the other driver was 90 percent at fault.
If you file a lawsuit seeking compensation for your injuries and damages, and the total damages amount to $100,000, the comparative fault rule will come into play. Since you were found to be 10 percent at fault, your compensation will be reduced by that percentage. Therefore, you would receive 90 percent of the total damages, which amounts to $90,000.
How to choose the right car insurance policy in Idaho
With so many options available, selecting the right car insurance policy can be a daunting task. Here are some tips to help you make an informed decision:
- Assess your needs: Consider factors, such as the value of your vehicle, your driving habits, and any unique circumstances that may affect your coverage needs.
- Compare quotes: Obtain quotes from multiple insurance providers to find the most competitive rates and coverage options. Keep in mind that the cheapest option may not always be the best choice, as it may not provide adequate protection.
- Check for discounts: Many insurance companies offer discounts for various factors such as a good driving record, bundling policies, or installing safety devices in your vehicle.
- Review the policy: Before committing to an insurance policy, carefully review the full coverage details, deductibles, and policy limits. Ensure that you understand your rights and responsibilities under the policy.
- Consult with an independent agent: An independent insurance agent can help you navigate the complexities of car insurance and recommend the best coverage options based on your needs and budget. Working with an independent insurance agent typically won’t cost you a penny, and it could save you a great deal of time and money.
Still have questions about auto insurance? These resources may help:
- Dealing with insurance claims adjusters
- Tactics insurance adjusters may use
- Steps to an insurance claim settlement
- Personal property damage in an auto accident
- Filing a bad faith lawsuit