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Driving in the Yellowhammer State

Alabama is brimming with southern history, culture, and charm, with cities like Birmingham and Mobile—the latter founded in 1702—offering compelling glimpses into the South’s past. At the same time, aerospace and other cutting-edge tech industries are big players in the state’s economy.

Residents pay fairly middle-of-the-road auto insurance rates relative to national averages; however, Alabama ranks as one of the top 5 most expensive states in the South in this regard. Savvy local consumers can still score great deals by proactively shopping around for the lowest coverage rates. SmartFinancial makes it really quick and easy, too, with our carrier-neutral, unbiased analysis of quotes tailored to your location and needs.

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Alabama Auto Insurance Rates

With more than a dozen major carriers offering car insurance in Alabama, you might be left wondering which ones to look at first. Below are the three top providers in the state, based on a variety of metrics. They’re a good place to start (see the full list).

  1. Farm Bureau Insurance – Tennessee
  2. Alfa Insurance
  3. KY Farm Bureau

Factors used in ranking these car insurance companies include average premium prices, diversity of policy offerings, customer satisfaction scores, user-friendliness of billing and payment options, and others.

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Legalities 101

Car insurance isn’t optional in Alabama—or anywhere else in the U.S., for that matter. Each state sets its own minimum coverage requirements, and you can learn more about your state’s a little further down on this page. The law is in place to protect you from exorbitant out-of-pocket expenses if you’re involved in an accident, as well as to protect all other drivers from the same.

Alabama Driving Safety

Alabama motorists are twice as likely to die in a traffic accident than the average American, and the state has the country’s seventh-highest vehicle occupant death rate. The main reason is that so much of the population lives in rural areas. Rural driving means faster speeds, less roadway illumination, and longer driving distances. That last point includes travel to and from hospitals; EMT response time and lengthier trips after pickup cost lives. In rural expanses, hospitals are few and far between, and some lack full trauma capabilities, so ambulances can’t always even go to the nearest one.

Recently, the safety statistics have not been moving in the right direction, either. In 2016, crashes rose by 2.1% over the previous year, while accident fatalities rose a shockingly disproportionate 24.6%.

Below are a few Alabama driving safety statistics, and there are lots more on the Drive Safe Alabama website.

Alabama Driving Safety Stats

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Number of reported crashes in 2016
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Number of traffic fatalities in 2016
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Percent of traffic fatalities involving a drunk driver

Driving Green

As adopting a sustainable lifestyle becomes more of a priority for more consumers, states, utility companies, and car insurance carriers are keeping in step by offering incentives for going green. If you’re looking to benefit financially from your efforts to benefit the environment, there are a number of possibilities.

Below are just three ways eco-minded motorists living in Alabama can save a little money monthly.

  • Residential Electric Vehicle Incentive

    If you’re an Alabama Power customer with a plug-in electric vehicle (PEV), you’re probably eligible for a monthly discount on your energy bill. For more information, take a look at the Alabama Power Rate Rider PEV PDF.

  • Business Electric Vehicle Incentive

    Alabama Power also offers a discount to businesses charging batteries for qualifying plug-in electric vehicles used for nonresidential purposes. Learn more from the Alabama Power Business Electric Vehicle Time-of-Use Rate PDF.

  • Auto Insurance Discounts for Green Choices

    Alabama motorists are often rewarded by their car insurance company for choosing an environmentally friendly auto. For example, drivers of alternative fuel, hybrid, and economy vehicles frequently qualify for green vehicle discounts. Also, lots of insurance providers offer a discount if you keep your mileage under a certain limit as a green measure (which has the added benefit for your provider of reducing your risk of getting into an accident and filing a claim).

Car Insurance Laws

Being a Minimalist

Legally mandated minimum limits of liability in Alabama are $25,000 of bodily injury per person, $50,000 bodily injury per accident to cover the injury or death of two or more people, and $25,000 per accident property damage liability. In addition, unless you opt out in writing, you’re required to carry a minimum of $25,000 per person and $50,000 per accident of uninsured motorist coverage, as well.

Alabama is an at-fault state. This means drivers have a few avenues for filing a claim, as opposed to having to file through their carrier as in a no-fault state. It also means that who gets compensated, for what, and for how much depends on who’s found to be responsible for causing the accident.

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$ 25,000
Bodily injury coverage per person

Maximum payment for serious injury or death to a single person

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$ 50,000
Bodily injury coverage per accident

Maximum payment for serious injury or death to more than one person

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$ 25,000
Property damage per accident

Maximum payment for all damaged property in an accident caused by you

Maximizing Your Return on Investment

Some people are content to just maintain coverage at the minimum required by Alabama law. This doesn’t cover them for a variety of potential expenses, though. That’s why other drivers prefer the peace of mind and financial protections of additional optional coverages. Also, when banks extend auto financing, they typically insist the borrower carry comprehensive coverage due to the risk of damage to the vehicle before the loan’s paid off.

Optional coverage in Alabama

  • Accident Forgiveness
  • Collision
  • Comprehensive
  • Gap Coverage
  • Loss of Use
  • Medical Benefits
  • New Car Replacement
  • Rental Car
  • Roadside Assistance
  • Travel Expenses
  • Uninsured Motorist
  • Vehicle Value Upgrade

These are common optional coverages offered by car insurance carriers in Alabama. They’re an effective way to gain peace of mind and protect yourself against out-of-pocket expenses that could potentially be financially crippling. Some exclusions will apply.

10 Things to Consider When Shopping for a New Auto Insurance Policy will better prepare you to make smart decisions when buying car insurance.

Alabama car insurance companies

Farm Bureau Insurance – Tennessee
Alfa Insurance
KY Farm Bureau
Auto-Owners Insurance
NC Farm Bureau
State Farm
National General
Liberty Mutual

*This list of insurance companies is based on the ratings for the Southeast U.S. Region in the J.D. Power 2016 U.S. Auto Insurance Study. Ratings are derived from five key service areas: claims, price, interaction, policy offerings, and billing. USAA is a military-only option and is therefore not including in the above rankings.

Car Safety for Alabama Kids

Alabama Car Seat Regulations

Secure infants in a federally approved rear-facing car seat in the back of the vehicle until they reach the manufacturer-designated weight or height limit. After that, children should graduate to a forward-facing car seat rated for their weight and height, also to be used in the back seat of the vehicle. They should continue using this car seat until they outgrow it as per the manufacturer’s instructions

Once children have passed the size limit for their car seat, they may switch to a belt-positioning booster seat. This continues until they can be properly secured by the vehicle’s built-in restraint system, which for most autos occurs at 4 feet 9 inches tall (typically between 8 and 12 years of age).

It’s recommended that all children remain in the back seat until at least age 13. They are safer in the rear in the event of an accident—including because kids can be injured by deployment of an air bag.

For more information about car seat, booster seat, and seat belt safety for children, visit the Parents Central page Car Seat Recommendations for Children.

Leaving Children Unattended in a Vehicle

Alabama doesn’t have any law specific to leaving children unattended in a vehicle as of this writing. However, doing so is generally regarded as child endangerment or neglect, and parents or guardians can be charged under those laws if officials decide to do so. This is likely if a child in your care becomes hurt or suffers other negative consequences due to being left alone or inadequately supervised.

Young kids unsupervised in a car, SUV, or truck are at risk for injuries, abduction, and other threats posed by strangers. But perhaps the most pressing and overlooked danger is the potential for heat stroke, brain damage, and death when the interior temperature of the vehicle spikes.

Alabama’s hot southern climate creates this risk—which exists even on temperate days, and even if the windows are left slightly open—throughout much of the year. The temperature inside a vehicle can climb 30 degrees or more in 30 minutes or less. Children (and animals) cannot regulate their body temperature as well as adults, nor are they able to recognize the danger they’re in or take steps to escape it. Just don’t leave a kid or pet unattended in a vehicle.

Car Insurance FAQ

Is my credit score a factor when obtaining car insurance in Alabama?

Yes, auto insurance carriers in Alabama usually reference your credit report when deciding whether to offer coverage and calculating your premium payment.

Does Alabama offer a good-driver discount?

Auto insurance carriers in Alabama offer a wide variety of discounts. While provisions vary by company, a clean driving record or completion of a defensive driving course often qualify you for a good-driver discount. Some other potential breaks on your premium include:

  • Passive Restraint
  • Anti-Lock Brake
  • Anti-Theft Device
  • New Car
  • Utility Discount
  • Farm Vehicle
  • Full Pay
  • Multiple Policy
  • Multiple Car
  • Resident Student
  • Good Student
  • Accident Free
  • Home Ownership
  • Vehicle Safety
  • Affinity (qualifying organization membership)

Does Alabama allow the use of digital insurance cards?

It does! Ask your car insurance company to provide you with a digital proof-of-coverage image, and you’re permitted to show it on your cell phone or other mobile device. No more frantically digging around in the glove compartment for proof of insurance!

What happens if my coverage lapses?

In 2012, when an estimated 900,000 vehicles were uninsured in Alabama, the state decided to crack down on the problem. Stiff penalties were imposed, including a fine of up to $500 and possible registration suspension (along with a $200 reinstatement fee) for first-time offenders. These penalties double upon a second offense. And you don’t even have to be pulled over to get caught with lapsed coverage; the Alabama Department of Revenue runs random computer searches for drivers with canceled or lapsed policies.

What are Alabama’s blood alcohol concentration (BAC) percentage limits under the state's driving under the influence (DUI) laws?

It’s illegal to drive in Alabama with the following BAC percentages:

.08%+ at 21 years old or older
.04%+ for commercial vehicle drivers
.02%+ at under 21 years old

In late 2011, the State of Alabama decided to much more aggressively punish DUI offenders who register a BAC of 0.15% or greater. These people face minimum penalties of at least double what they would be if the level were below this reading. See the question after next for more information about DUI penalties.

What are the chemical test refusal penalties in Alabama?

Alabama is an “implied consent” state, meaning that the act of accepting a driver’s license offers your legally binding consent to a breath, urine, or blood test at a law enforcement officer’s request. A first refusal triggers a license suspension of up to 90 days, while a second refusal can come with a 1-year suspension. If convicted of violating the implied consent law, you may also face several hundred to a few thousand dollars in fines and possibly even jail time.

What are the consequences of being convicted of a DUI?

DUI convictions in Alabama carry a wide range of administrative and criminal penalties, with a variety of mitigating factors at play. Your number of prior offenses, your BAC, whether or not you caused any property damage or injuries, whether or not you’re of legal drinking age, and other considerations all affect the severity of the consequences.

A typical first-time conviction comes with a 90-day license suspension, mandatory attendance of a DUI  course, $500 to $2,000 in fines, a $100 fee to be given to the Impaired Drivers Trust Fund, and up to 1 year in municipal or county jail.

To see the standard penalties for subsequent convictions, visit the Alabama Law Enforcement Agency website.

Does Alabama offer driver improvement courses to reduce my insurance premium?

Yes! The same defensive driving school courses that you may have to attend if you accumulate too many points on your license or to avoid getting points after a moving violation are also a potential source for car insurance discounts. Many carriers in Alabama shave a little off your premium if you complete a state-approved program. Check with your city or municipality to find an approved course.

Is there any way I can reduce the cost of my Alabama car insurance?

Don’t think you’re doomed to forever make steep auto insurance payments! As noted above, your credit score is a significant factor, so in the long term, raising your score is an effective way to get lower rates. For more immediate results, though, ask your carrier about any available discounts, opt for a higher deductible as a trade-off for a lower premium, and pay upfront rather than in monthly installments if you can. And when it’s time for a new policy, comparison shop for the best quote.

What is uninsured motorist coverage and is it required in Alabama?

Uninsured motorist coverage is a type of insurance that protects you in the event of an accident caused by another driver who does not have car insurance. That’s illegal, but certainly not uncommon. This coverage is optional in Alabama, but you must opt out in writing. If you don’t, the minimum coverage limit is $25,000 per person and $50,000 per accident—the same as your own coverage.

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