Car Insurance Done the SMARTWAY™

The fifth largest state by land area, New Mexico is a place of stunning natural beauty. Its desert landscapes, mesas, canyons, snow-capped mountains, and other awe-inspiring features create some of the most captivating scenery in the country. The abundant cultural and historical connection to Native Americans and early indigenous people also make the state quite an American treasure.

All this outdoor appeal brings in lots of tourists, many taking road trips and camping throughout the state. Unfamiliar motorists can create extra dangers, especially on long, isolated roads that encourage high speeds. In fact, speeding is one of the top contributors to traffic crashes in the state.

As for car insurance, New Mexico residents pay middle-of-the-road rates relative to the rest of the country. The state usually even ranks right at or around 25th on lists of average premiums. So, while you’re not shelling out exorbitant monthly fees, you are likely to pay more than a lot of other Americans.

But there’s an antidote for that! By comparison shopping for the lowest quotes on coverage tailored to your vehicle and driver’s lifestyle, you can knock your payments down considerably. And that’s where SmartFinancial comes in. Answer a few basic questions for us, and we quickly set you up with quotes from leading carriers in New Mexico—all based on objective info and analysis—and entirely for free!

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New Mexico Auto Insurance Rates

Wondering where to turn for the lowest car insurance rates in New Mexico? You might have good luck with J.D. Power’s top-rated carriers for the Southwest, listed below. But numerous personal factors influence insurance quotes, so it’s important to comparison shop among all the leading providers in the state (see the full list).

  1. The Hartford
  2. American Family
  3. Liberty Mutual

When comparing carriers, make sure you look at user reviews, rejected claim rates, policy flexibility, payment options, available discounts, and other areas of service.

SmartFinancial makes it fast and easy to compare quotes. It’s free, too, and all you have to do to get started is click on your location below. If you don’t see your hometown in the list, just click here instead.

 

Legalities 101

Each state sets its own minimum coverage requirements, and we’ll go into detail about New Mexico’s shortly. Some people wonder why car insurance is mandatory. It may seem pushy, but the system protects all the motorists on the road—yourself included. Drivers need to be financially accountable for damage and injuries they cause, otherwise innocent parties get unfairly burdened with major expenses. This system also helps to keep the cost of auto insurance down for everyone.

It’s all based on one unfortunate reality: accidents happen. All the time. And even if you’re the most cautious, defensive, responsible person to ever get behind a steering wheel, not all the contributing factors in traffic crashes are under your control.

New Mexico Driving Safety

While many factors contribute to crashes, some of the leading ones in New Mexico include inattentive drivers, failing to yield, tailgating, failing to obey traffic signs and signals, speeding, and drug and alcohol-impaired driving.

For a lot more information about crash data and road safety, take a look at the New Mexico Department of Transportation’s 2015 New Mexico Traffic Crash Annual Report.

New Mexico Driving Safety Stats

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45,309
Number of reported traffic accidents in 2015
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19,219
Number of people injured in those accidents
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298
Number of deaths resulting from those accidents

Driving Green

It’s only natural that a state with such glorious natural scenery as New Mexico would have lots of eco-minded citizens. If you’re one of them and you know where to look, you’ll find some opportunities to save money with green driving incentives from various sources. We’ve listed a few below.

  • Emissions Test Exemption in Bernalillo County

    New Mexico emissions testing requirements only pertain to people with registered vehicles in, or who commute in, Bernalillo County. However, if you drive a dedicated electric, hybrid, or new car, you’re exempted from these mandatory tests, saving you some time and cash.

  • Auto Insurance Discounts for Green Driving

    Most carriers licensed to insure New Mexico motorists offer premium discounts on economy, hybrid, electric, and other alternative fuel vehicles. So, there’s a great opportunity to save some green month after month by going green. Low-mileage discounts are common too, since minimizing your driving reduces your risk of an accident right along with your carbon footprint.

  • Federal Tax Credits for Environmentally Friendly Vehicles

    Some states offer tax credits for buying an eco-friendly vehicle, but unfortunately New Mexico isn’t yet one of them. However, the Federal government offers up to $7,500 in tax credits if you purchase an all-electric or hybrid vehicle. The greater your vehicle’s battery capacity, the greater your savings. Click over to FuelEconomy.gov to learn more and see vehicle-specific tax credits.

Car Insurance Laws

Being a Minimalist

As per New Mexico car insurance laws, all drivers in the state must carry a minimum amount of liability coverage. This includes $25,000 bodily injury per person, $50,000 bodily injury per accident, and $10,000 property damage per accident. Alternatively, they may demonstrate financial responsibility with a $60,000 surety bond or cash deposit with the New Mexico State Treasurer.

New Mexico is a tort, or at-fault, state. That means fault is assigned in an accident, and victims may pursue compensation through their own auto insurance provider, the at-fault party’s carrier, or through a personal injury lawsuit. Residents are therefore not required to carry no-fault or personal injury protection (PIP) coverage.

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$ 25,000
Bodily injury coverage per person

Maximum payment for serious or permanent 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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$ 10,000
Property damage per accident

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

Maximizing Your Return on Investment

New Mexico’s minimum coverage requirements offer a good deal of protection, but there’s always the risk that it won’t be adequate to pay for everything in the event of a serious accident. That’s why many motorists opt to increase their coverage beyond the minimum, gaining more peace of mind and financial security.

Also, drivers have access to a variety of optional coverages. There are lots of circumstances under which liability coverage doesn’t pay for expenses a vehicle can incur. Read on to learn more about these additional protections.

Optional coverage in New Mexico

  • Uninsured/Underinsured Motorist
  • Collision
  • Comprehensive
  • Medical Payments
  • Gap Coverage
  • New Car Replacement
  • Accident Forgiveness
  • Towing and Labor
  • Custom Equipment
  • Loss of Use
  • Travel Expenses
  • Rental Car

If you have a vehicle loan, check with your lender about required extra coverage, as this is common. Providers of financing often insist that you carry collision and comprehensive coverage, for example. In other words, not all optional coverages are always optional.

12 Things You can Do to Lower Your Auto Insurance Premium is a helpful article that can help you offset the cost of optional coverages by reducing your monthly premium.

New Mexico car insurance companies

The Hartford
American Family
Liberty Mutual
State Farm
GEICO
Safeco
Allstate
Progressive
Farmers
CSAA IG (AAA)

*The above list is based on the consumer ratings for the Southwest region in the J.D. Power 2016 U.S. Auto Insurance Study. Five key customer service areas were used to develop the rankings: policy offerings, claims, interaction, price, and billing. Because USAA insurance is only open to U.S. military personnel and their families, it was not included in the rankings.

Car Safety for New Mexico Kids

New Mexico Car Seat Regulations

Car safety seat laws in New Mexico state that all children younger than 7 years old or weighing less than 60 pounds must be properly secured in a car or booster seat appropriate for their age, height, and weight. All children 7 to 12 years of age and who weigh over 60 pounds must be properly restrained in a booster seat appropriate for their age, height, and weight until they can be safely secured with the vehicle’s seat belts.

Kids can typically be properly secured in a vehicle’s factory-installed restraint system at 4′ 9” tall. They should be able to sit up straight with their back against the seat and have their knees bend over the front of their seat; the shoulder strap should cross their shoulder and chest—not their neck or face—and the lap belt should drape over their upper thighs.

To expand a bit on the law, infants should be in a rear-facing car seat until age 2 or until reaching the seat’s size limit. After that, a forward-facing car seat is appropriate, again until reaching the size limit. A belt-positioning booster seat is the third step for child safety seats. And remember, children are always safer in the back seat of a vehicle.

Leaving Children Unattended in a Vehicle

Leaving a young kid alone in a car, SUV, van, or truck is very dangerous, especially in New Mexico’s hot, sunny climate. Even if you leave the windows cracked, the interior can heat up about 30 degrees in as many minutes or less. And it doesn’t even have to be hot out if you’re parked in the sun. This can lead to dehydration, heat stroke, brain damage, and death in children and in pets.

Of course, there are other obvious risks associated with young children left unsupervised as well. Just don’t do it. While there isn’t a dedicated law for this scenario in New Mexico, a parent, guardian, or other caregiver can be prosecuted under child neglect laws should something happen.

Car Insurance FAQ

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

Yes. Only three states prohibit car insurance companies from considering your credit score when determining how much to charge you for coverage. New Mexico isn’t one of them (they’re California, Hawaii, and Massachusetts, by the way). Lots of factors affect your offer, but your credit score plays a role. Higher scores help get a lower premium, and lower scores contribute to a higher premium.

Does New Mexico offer a good-driver discount?

Most car insurance companies licensed in New Mexico offer good-driver discounts. They’re a way to attract desirable customers and incentivize careful driving, and they’re great for consumers, too! Ask your carrier if they offer this and what it takes to earn it. Typically, it’s 3 or 5 years without an accident, and often without a ticket for a moving violation, either.

  • 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 New Mexico allow the use of digital insurance cards?

Unfortunately, as of this writing, New Mexico is one of the last few remaining holdouts in this respect. It does not allow you to show proof of coverage with a digital insurance card on your mobile device. For now, you’ll need to make sure your official printed insurance card is in your vehicle at all times.

What happens if my coverage lapses?

New Mexico uses an automated system called the Insurance Identification Database that cross-checks vehicles registered with the MVD with insurance company records. That means you don’t have to be pulled over and asked for proof of coverage to get caught driving without insurance. If your coverage lapses or is canceled, or you just don’t buy it, your vehicle registration will be suspended. To have it reinstated, you must show proof that you obtained coverage and pay a reinstatement fee ($30 as of this writing). Failure to produce proof of coverage or to turn in your license plate within the allotted time may result in further consequences, including criminal penalties.

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

It’s against the law to operate a motor vehicle in New Mexico at the following BAC percentages:

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

In New Mexico, you can be convicted of driving while intoxicated (DWI) even if your blood-alcohol content level is below these levels. All it takes is for your ability to drive to be even slightly impaired by drugs or alcohol.

What are the chemical test refusal penalties in New Mexico?

As is now the norm across most of the U.S., New Mexico has an implied consent law regarding blood, urine, and breath tests to ascertain impairment. That means you’re considered to have consented to chemical tests simply by having acquired a driver’s license. Refusing the test results in immediate revocation of your driving privileges for 1 year.

What are the consequences of being convicted of a DUI?

A variety of considerations affect DWI penalties, the biggest being how many prior offenses are on your record. In New Mexico, DWI convictions remain on your record for 55 years. Having a particularly high BAC, causing an accident, causing injuries or death, having an open alcohol container or drugs in your vehicle, and driving with a minor are some examples of aggravating factors that may increase penalties.

A first-time DWI offender’s driver’s license is revoked for up to 1 year (this increases by one year for each subsequent offense, until the fourth, at which point driving privileges are lost permanently). They also face significant fines and fees, compulsory completion of a drug and alcohol treatment course, mandatory installation of an ignition interlock device at their own expense, and possible jail time.

Does New Mexico offer driver improvement courses to reduce my insurance premium?

New Mexico doesn’t have official rules or regulations about this, but it’s common practice for carriers to reward voluntary completion of a defensive driving course with a discount. Check with your provider and make sure to find a State-approved class through your local MVD or your county.

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

Sure! People often think of auto insurance as a fixed cost, but there are plenty of ways to get your payments down. For starters, pursue any of the relevant discounts and incentives we cover on this page. Be careful with your driving record and credit score, too, as part of a long-term strategy.  You can also pay for a full coverage term upfront to get a better deal than with monthly installments, and choose a higher deductible for a lower premium. But most importantly, when it’s time for a new policy, comparison shop for the best possible quote.

What is uninsured motorist coverage and is it required in New Mexico?

Uninsured motorist coverage pays for expenses incurred in an accident caused by a driver without any or enough car insurance. It also covers you if you’re hit by a driver who flees the scene. This type of coverage is a smart investment—especially considering that New Mexico has one of the highest uninsured driver rates in the country—but it’s not mandatory under state law.

21%
Uninsured drivers in New Mexico
12%
Uninsured drivers Nationwide

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