Car Insurance Done the SMARTWAY™


Iowa is a land of classic Midwestern beauty, with rolling hills, expansive prairies, and plenty of agricultural land. It’s the only state in the country with its eastern and western borders formed completely by rivers; to the west, it’s the mighty Mississippi, and to the east, it’s the Missouri and Big Sioux Rivers.

One of the big draws to the state is its relatively low cost of living. This extends to car insurance, as Iowa residents pay some of the lowest average rates in the nation. Of course, you don’t have to be satisfied with the first quote you get, even if it sounds pretty good. There are still considerable monthly savings to be had by comparison shopping for the lowest possible premiums on just the right level of coverage for your needs. SmartFinancial’s carrier-neutral information makes it fast and easy to compare quotes on our secure platform.

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Iowa Auto Insurance Rates

Wondering which carriers to look at first? With more than a dozen to choose from, there’s no shortage of options. Here are the three highest rated in Iow (see the full list).

  1. Shelter
  2. State Farm
  3. The Hartford

It’s a good idea to check these car insurance companies out for coverage in Iowa. They’re ranked by a 2016 J.D. Power study that looked at average prices, customer satisfaction scores, policy flexibility, and a few additional factors.

Of course, you can always compare more carriers more efficiently with our instant rate comparison technology platform. In 3 minutes or less, you can complete your diligent comparison shopping and hone in on the lowest quotes on optimal coverage for your individual needs. It’s fast, easy, and secure, so try it out! Choose your location from the list below; if it isn’t included, click here instead.

 

Legalities 101

The law’s a little different in Iowa than in other states; you don’t legally have to carry car insurance. However, if you don’t buy at least the minimum required coverage, you still have to demonstrate financial responsibility—the means to cover damage or injuries you cause in an accident. There are a few ways to do this, which we detail below in the section called Car Insurance Laws.

Iowa Driving Safety

Iowa saw a significant spike in traffic fatalities in 2016 over the previous year. Major factors contributing to crash-related deaths in the state include driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs, distracted driving, and driving along the state’s many rural roadways, where speed limits are higher, lighting is lower, and distances for emergency response vehicles to travel are longer.

Iowa Driving Safety Stats

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404
Number of traffic fatalities in 2016
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60
Number of 2016 fatalities who were motorcyclists
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28
Percent increase in crash fatalities from 2015

Driving Green

Unfortunately, Iowa doesn’t yet offer the same eco-friendly driving incentives found in many other states. That’s not to say there are no opportunities for environmentally conscious drivers to save a little money, though. Here are a few places besides the state itself to look:

  • Green Driver Auto Insurance Discounts

    Lots of car insurance companies serving Iowa residents offer premium discounts if you drive one of many qualifying alternative fuel, hybrid, or economy vehicles. Also, going green by keeping your mileage down also means decreased risk of an accident, so plenty of carriers extend low-mileage discounts. Ask a representative from your insurance provider if you’re eligible for any such savings.

  • Federal Tax Credits for Fuel-Efficient Vehicles

    All-electric and plug-in hybrid vehicles purchased during or after 2010 qualify for a federal tax credit from the IRS. These credits go up to $7,500, depending on the battery capacity. While many states offer similar incentives, Iowa does not.  Learn more and see how much of a tax credit your auto qualifies for at the U.S. Department of Energy’s Fuel Economy website.

  • What About Emissions Testing Exemptions?

    Many states waive emissions testing at vehicle registration and registration renewal for certain classes of eco-friendly vehicles. However, if you’re a new driver, you may not be aware yet that Iowa is one of the states in the minority to not require any emissions testing.

Car Insurance Laws

Being a Minimalist

As noted above, Iowa does not require that drivers have auto insurance coverage. But if they don’t carry it, they must show the financial means to pay for injuries or damage they cause in a traffic crash. This is addressed by the Financial Safety and Responsibility Act under Iowa Code 321A.

The vast majority of Iowa motorists simply opt to carry the minimum required coverage. This includes $20,000 bodily injury coverage per person, $40,000 bodily injury to more than one person per accident, and $15,000 property damage coverage per accident.

If you choose not to carry car insurance, you can demonstrate financial responsibility by filing a surety bond, cash, or securities equal to $55,000 with the state treasury. You may also drive a vehicle covered under a certificate of self-insurance from the Office of Driver Services.

In Iowa, you’re also automatically provided with uninsured motorist coverage in the minimum amounts of $20,000 bodily injury per person and $40,000 per accident. You have the right to waive this coverage by submitting a written letter of refusal to your carrier, though. This is a fairly common approach to this type of coverage in the US.

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$ 20,000
Bodily injury coverage per person

Maximum payment for serious injury or death to a single person

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$ 40,000
Bodily injury coverage per accident

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

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$ 15,000
Property damage per accident

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

Maximizing Your Return on Investment

Minimum car insurance coverage gets you by, but it doesn’t necessarily spare you from the many potential out-of-pocket expenses associated with accidents under different circumstances. Check out the types of optional coverage listed below. They can save you a great deal of money in the future, so are often a worthwhile investment.

Optional coverage in Iowa

  • Collision
  • Comprehensive
  • Gap Coverage
  • Accident Forgiveness
  • Roadside Assistance
  • Custom Equipment
  • New Car Replacement
  • Loss of Use
  • Medical Benefits
  • Travel Expenses
  • Rental Car

Some exclusions will apply, but Iowa motorists can select from these and other optional coverages, depending on what their carrier offers. While add-ons increase your premium, they provide peace of mind and greater financial protection than you get from just the legal minimum coverage. Also, collision and comprehensive coverage are generally required by lenders if you finance your vehicle.

Take a look at our post about 11 Mistakes People Make when Shopping for Auto Insurance. It’ll help you shop smartly and avoid paying more than you have to for your coverage.

Iowa car insurance companies

Shelter
State Farm
The Hartford
Safeco
American Family
Progressive
Geico
Auto-Owners Insurance
Liberty Mutual
ACSC (AAA)
Travelers
Farmers
Alstate
Farm Bureau Mutual
Nationwide

*This list of car insurance carriers is based on the ratings for the Central 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 Iowa Kids

Iowa Car Seat Regulations

The Iowa child restraint law outlines how to safely transport children in a vehicle. It states that children under 1 year old and weighing less than 20 pounds must be properly secured in a rear-facing car seat. From 1 to 6 years of age, and once the child weighs more than 20 pounds, an appropriately rated forward-facing car seat or booster seat should be used. From ages 6 to 18, all children must be secured in either an appropriately rated booster seat or the vehicle’s own restraint system.

Adhere to all manufacturer instructions about properly securing a child in a car or booster seat and weight/height limits for safe use. Children are always safer in the back seat in the event of an accident, including because they are at risk of injury from airbag deployment.

Failing to properly secure a child is probable cause to be stopped by a law enforcement officer in Iowa.  Violation of the state’s restraint laws may result in about $200 in fines. If the child is under the age of 14, the driver will receive a citation as well.

Leaving Children Unattended in a Vehicle

Fewer than half of US states currently have laws enacted specifically addressing leaving a child unattended in a vehicle; Iowa still doesn’t. But it’s still a serious and dangerous situation, as children suffer grave and permanent injuries and even die when left alone in a hot vehicle. The same happens frequently to pets, incidentally.

The inside of a car, truck, or SUV heats up quite quickly on a hot, warm, or even temperate day (the latter if parked in direct sunlight). Iowa does have two sets of laws that could be applied if authorities choose to prosecute a parent, guardian, or caregiver who leaves a child unsupervised in a vehicle; this would be most likely in the event of injury or death. These include Iowa’s child neglect laws and child endangerment laws.

Please don’t leave a kid (or pet) unattended in a vehicle, not even for a brief time. Even without weather-related risks, children can hurt themselves or be targeted by strangers if they’re alone.

Car Insurance FAQ

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

It sure is. Whether that’s a good thing or a bad thing depends on your score, obviously. Auto insurance companies associate a low credit score with an increased likelihood of filing a claim. Low scores mean higher premiums, and high scores mean lower rates.

Does Iowa offer a good-driver discount?

A clean driving record makes you a desirable insurance customer. That’s why so many carriers offer good-driver discounts, which also incentivize customers to be more careful on the road. It’s win-win for consumers and insurance companies. Ask your carrier if they offer this discount, as well as any of the following possibilities that might apply to you:

  • Full Pay
  • Multiple Car
  • Multiple Policy
  • Good Student
  • Resident Student
  • Accident Free
  • Vehicle Safety
  • Anti-Lock Brake
  • Anti-Theft Device
  • Home Ownership
  • New Car
  • Passive Restraint
  • Utility Discount

Does Iowa allow the use of digital insurance cards?

Yes, it does. Iowa motorists are no longer forced to rummage through their overstuffed glove compartments, searching for their printed proof of coverage under the impatient stare of a police officer. Simply request an official digital proof of coverage from your carrier (almost all of them provided these now), and you can show it on your electronic mobile device.

Note that if you’ve opted not to buy car insurance and instead have otherwise demonstrated financial responsibility, you must have official documentation of having filed a bond with the state (or of whichever other method applies).

What happens if my coverage lapses?

Failing to continuously carry car insurance or otherwise demonstrate financial responsibility puts you at risk of penalties. You may face a $250 fine or compulsory community service, and your tag and registration receipt will be removed or your vehicle impounded. Proof of insurance is required for reinstatement of your driving privileges, which also comes with associated fees. Penalties are more severe if you’re caught without coverage in an accident.

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

It’s illegal to drive in Iowa at the following BAC percentages:

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

Iowa law enforcement aggressively monitors for OWI, or operating while intoxicated or drugged. The laws don’t only apply to alcohol-related impairment; it’s also illegal to operate a vehicle when you’re impaired by any controlled substance, legal or illegal. There are more than 9,000 OWI arrests annually in Iowa.

What are the chemical test refusal penalties in Iowa?

Like most states, Iowa has an “implied consent law,” which means that anyone driving in the state—nonresidents included—has agreed to take a breath, urine, or blood test when requested by a law enforcement officer who suspects them of driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs. Refusing the test results in a 1 to 2-year revocation of their driver’s license (the duration depending on the individual’s prior record), a mandated course on driving under the influence, and substance abuse evaluation and/or treatment.

What are the consequences of being convicted of a DUI?

If you’re found guilty of driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol, the consequences depend on a variety of factors. For example, your number of prior offenses within the past 12 years, whether or not you caused an accident, what your BAC percentage was, and whether you’re of legal drinking age (21) affect the penalties.

First-time offenders may face a temporarily revoked or restricted license, a 48-hour jail sentence, installation of an ignition interlock device, a compulsory drunk driving education class, substance abuse evaluation and/or treatment, and possibly other penalties.

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

Residents who voluntarily complete a course offered through Iowa’s Driver Improvement Program (DIP) may be rewarded by their carrier with lower car insurance rates. Check with your auto insurance provider and, if such a discount is available to you, find a state-approved course (online or in-person) through your local DMV or your county.

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

Over the course of this page, we’ve covered a variety of potential discounts on auto insurance in Iowa. Remember those green driving incentives, good-driver discounts, defensive driving course completion, and others listed; ask your representative what’s available. Also, for the long run, work to raise your credit score and keep it high, as this is an important factor in calculating your rates. Pay upfront rather than monthly and you’ll get a better deal too, and take on a higher deductible in exchange for a lower premium. And, most importantly, when shopping for a new policy, make sure you compare quotes to find the lowest on the right coverage for you.

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

Uninsured motorist coverage (and the similar underinsured motorist coverage) protects you in the event of an accident caused by a driver who doesn’t have car insurance. In Iowa, 1 in 10 drivers don’t have auto insurance. Drivers in Iowa are automatically provided with this type of coverage in the amounts of $20,000 per person/$40,000 per accident when they purchase a policy. However, they may turn down this coverage in writing if they prefer to go without it.

9%
Uninsured drivers in Iowa
12%
Uninsured drivers Nationwide

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