By every measure, Arkansas roads are getting safer, but it still has a higher rate of traffic fatalities than the national average. So whether you're headed to Hot Springs for a soak or Fayetteville for a football game, you'll want to make sure you're properly insured. Read on to find out what your state requires for car insurance and road safety.
Insurance Requirements for Arkansas Vehicles
All Arkansas motor vehicle owners are supposed to carry at least a minimum amount of auto insurance. But research shows that over 16 percent of drivers aren't covered, putting Arkansas among the top ten least-insured states in the country. And since Arkansas roads are still on the risky side, despite recent improvements, you'll want to make sure you're protected.
Who Needs Vehicle Insurance in Arkansas?
Arkansas law requires you to carry liability coverage for all the vehicles you drive. You'll need to provide proof of coverage when registering a vehicle.
Proof of Insurance
Arkansas requires motorists to provide proof of insurance if requested by:
- The Arkansas Department of Finance and Administration
- A police officer
The Department of Finance and Administration uses an electronic database to verify car insurance and does frequent checks of all registered vehicles.
You can carry a copy of your insurance card in the glove compartment or on your cell phone. Like nearly every state now, Arkansas allow drivers to show proof of insurance stored on their smartphones.
Minimum Liability Insurance Requirements
Here are the minimum coverage levels of liability insurance required by Arkansas:
- $25,000 per person for injury or death
- $50,000 per accident
- $25,000 to cover property damage
Arkansas requires insurance companies to offer a discount to college graduates and to people over 55 who've completed a state-approved defensive driving class.
Alternatives to insurance
Every driver must have vehicle insurance in Arkansas. But if you can't buy a standard policy from an insurance company—perhaps because of a less-than-stellar driving record—you can still get coverage through the Arkansas Assigned Risk Plan.
What Happens If You Drive Without Car Insurance in Arkansas?
Drivers caught driving without auto insurance face the following penalties:
- Fines of $50 to $250 (which increase with subsequent incidents).
- A suspended vehicle registration and possible incarceration.
To re-register a vehicle after a suspension, drivers must:
- Buy at least the Arkansas minimum required auto insurance
- Provide proof of insurance to the DFA
- Pay a reinstatement fee
How Much Vehicle Insurance Do You Need?
When shopping for car insurance in Arkansas, consider the value of the vehicle as well as your financial circumstances. According to the Insurance Information Institute, consumer groups recommend - if you can afford it - that you get liability insurance in the amount of at least $100,000 per injury and $300,000 per accident. This is far and beyond the legal limit.
Arkansas Lack Vehicle Insurance? 16.6% National Average: 13 % (Source: Insurance Research Council - latest data, 2015)
Uninsured motorist coverage will help protect you in case you're hit by a driver without insurance. And collision and comprehensive insurance will pay to repair and/or replace your vehicle after an accident or natural disaster.
Additional collision coverage beyond the state required minimum will protect you if you are at fault in an accident. Comprehensive coverage helps repair or pay replacement value of a vehicle following a crash.
For more on the common types of car coverage and what's best for you, see our MoneyGeek guide to car insurance
Teen Drivers in Arkansas
If you have a teen driver, he or she will have to carry at least the same mandatory level of insurance required of other Arkansas drivers. You can expect your premium costs to go up, but talk with your insurance agent about discounts. The American Automobile Association recommends your child help keep premium costs down by driving a mid-sized sedan rather than a sports car or SUV; getting a good student discount; taking a defensive driving course; and avoiding crashes and DUIs.
You may also help keep the premium down by raising your deductible.
Arkansas Car Insurance: The Difference a Teen Makes
Median annual price change for families with a teen driver on their policy:$1,842 increase This is a difference of 118%.
Average annual premium increase if your teen gets a speeding ticket while driving 11 to 15 mph over the speed limit:
Check Out Discounts for Teens in Arkansas
Impact on annual premium with Good Student and Defensive Driving discounts:$319 saved
Premiums from Arkansas Insurance Providers
Policy costs differ greatly from insurer to insurer, so shop around. Check out the annual average premiums for a married couple with a 16-year-old teen driver in Arkansas:
|Southern Farm Bureau||$1,629||$2,789||$4,417|
Arkansas Premiums: Mustang vs. Minivan
Insurers consider sports cars a more hazardous choice for teens than sedans and minivans, according to industry representatives. Not surprisingly, premium rates reflect it.
Average premium for two 2014
Average premium for two 2008
Town and Country Limiteds
Annual benefit of minivans:
College Students in Arkansas
If you're attending school outside your home state of Arkansas, you have to make sure your car insurance matches the requirements for your new state.
Out-of-state students attending an Arkansas college are not required to obtain an Arkansas driver's license if they already have a valid license, but they have to meet the state's basic requirements for auto insurance.
- Inform the insurance company if you'll be using your car in another state for more than 30 days out of the year.
- Use caution before loaning a vehicle to friends. In Arkansas, the owner of the vehicle is liable for any damages in an accident where the driver is at fault.
College vs. High School Drivers in Arkansas
Median annual premium change with a college student vs. high school driver$600 decrease This is a decrease of 16%.
How a College Student Affects Your Arkansas Premiums
Each year, compare your policy with those of other insurers to see whether you could get a better deal. Here are the average premiums, for example, for a married couple with a 19-year-old college student in Arkansas.
|Southern Farm Bureau||$1,400||$2,355||$3,555|
Distance Discount: Savings for Arkansas College Drivers
You may see a modest discount in your family's premium if your student lives 150+ miles away from home.
Average premium for a 19-year-old male
- $3,428 at home
- $3,131 at school
- $297 in savings
Average premium for a 19-year-old female
- $3,016 at home
- $2,831 at school
- $185 in savings
How Car Choice Affects Premiums in Arkansas
Data shows that it pays for your college student to drive a family car such as a minivan rather than a sports car — the average premiums are much lower.
2014 Mustang GTs (2)$3,875
2008 Town and Country Limited minivans (2)$2,508
Annual benefit of minivans
Military Drivers in Arkansas
Whether you're a veteran or one of 3,000+ active duty military personnel enlisted in the Razorback State, discounts on auto insurance are available in Arkansas. For military personnel who live in Arkansas but are stationed elsewhere, car registration and insurance requirements are the same as for a state resident, regardless of where you are stationed. Military personnel based in Arkansas must carry at least the minimum auto coverage as everyone else, although they are exempt from personal property taxes.
It's a good idea to get quotes from at least three insurance carriers for an adequate price comparison. Also, even though discounts to vets and enlisted military are available, a clean driving record is also necessary.
Arkansas Service Members:
How the Vehicle You Buy Affects Your Premium
Think twice before you buy a new sports car. Our research shows an older model SUV still has less impact on your premium than a recent model sports car.
Military Drivers: A Comparison of Premium Ranges by Driver Age and Vehicle
Age Savings for Arkansas
Median auto insurance
for service members:
Compare Average Premiums Available to Arkansas Military Personnel
When looking for auto insurance, it pays to do some comparison shopping. Check out the average annual rates you can get in Arkansas.
Seniors in Arkansas
By law, Arkansas insurance companies must offer discounts of up to 15 percent for drivers 55 and older who pass a state-approved safe driving course. You may also be eligible for other discounts, such as bundling your homeowner's policy with your car insurance.
Undocumented Workers in Arkansas
According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, Arkansas does not allow driving privileges to unauthorized immigrants.
Ridesharing Insurance in Arkansas: Are You Covered?
In 2014, Governor Jan Brewer vetoed a bill that would have made Uber, Lyft and other ridesharing companies legal in Arkansas. Citing gaps in insurance coverage, among other things, she wrote that "consumer safety must not be sacrificed for the sake of innovation."
In 2015, a bill to legalize the ridesharing companies passed. It requires the driver to have primary liability insurance that kicks in as soon as they turn on the ridesharing app.
The ride-sharing companies themselves must also provide a liability policy of at least $1 million to cover injuries, deaths, or property damage after the driver picks up a passenger.
Ridesharing drivers have to carry proof of liability insurance whenever they operate their vehicles. If their policy lapses or they don't have insurance, the ridesharing company must provide the coverage.
Car Accidents: How to File a Claim in Arkansas
If you're in an accident, you have to submit an Arkansas Motor Vehicle Accident Report (Form SR-1) if the crash causes:
- More than $1,000 in property damage to any person.
- Injury or death to any person.
You also have to provide proof of insurance. To do this, your insurance company must complete and submit form SR-21, which is part of the SR-1 accident report.
Driver Safety: How Does Arkansas Rank?
Arkansas has a higher rate of road fatalities than the national average, but the death toll has been shrinking — until recently. "We saw a great decline for several years in the fatality rate up until last year," says Bridget White, coordinator of highway safety for the state's transportation department. "Several contributing factors like an improving economy and low gas prices brought more people on the road. And with more people, there were more accidents. One of the biggest dangers we see is distracted drivers, people talking or texting on their smartphones."
With the help of federal grant dollars to boost police presence on Arkansas roads and educate the public, White says deaths on Arkansas highways have declined 11 percent overall in the last decade. She also credits safety programs and PSAs on television and radio to educate drivers about the potentially deadly risks of drinking and driving or texting on a phone. "We also conduct periodic driver surveys to gauge public attitudes about unsafe behaviors," White says. Survey results, she says, help the highway safety office zero in on problem areas to change driver behavior.
Arkansas Driver Safety Ranking
The driver safety table shows the different safety factors that contribute to your state's overall safety rank (in the green box). The overall safety ranking and the National Ranking column scores in each category (including crash fatality rates) are from safest to most dangerous, with 1st being the safest and 51st the least safe.
How did we create the safety rankings?
We created a traffic safety ranking of all US states plus the District of Columbia by combining data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety. We looked at fatality rates by distance traveled as well as by population and gave more weight to behaviors that were riskier and preventable (i.e., drunk driving, not using a seat belt), as well as to accidents that involved more than one party (i.e., multi-vehicle).
|Driver Safety Profile||Number of Fatalities||Fatality Rate
The fatality rate is the rate per one billion vehicle miles traveled, except for pedestrian and bicyclist fatality measures, which are per measured per a population of 100,000.
Rankings are in order of safest to least safe. A state with the lowest fatality rate would be the safest, and thus ranked #1.
|Drunk Driving-Related Fatalities||121||3.61||35th|
|Passenger Vehicle Unrestrained Fatalities||174||5.20||42nd|
|Unhelmeted Motorcycle Fatalities||39||1.16||41st|
|Multiple Vehicle Fatalities||192||5.73||40th|
|Total Vehicle Fatalities||483||14.42||44th|
Sources: National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, Insurance Institute for Highway Safety
Arkansas: Protecting You from Injury on the Road
Arkansas has some strong road safety laws, including a mandatory ignition interlock for DUIs and an open container law.
But Arkansas gets a yellow caution light from Advocates for Highway & Road Safety, an alliance of consumer, public health, and insurance groups. The alliance urges the state to adopt stronger driving safety laws, including better protections for novice drivers, a booster seat law through age 7, and the right for police and the highway patrol to pull over drivers solely because their passengers are not wearing seat belts. (This is known as primary enforcement, as opposed to secondary enforcement, when a driver can only be cited for not using a seat belt if he was stopped for another violation. Arkansas has primary enforcement but only for those in the front seats).
Safe Driving Laws - Arkansas
|Mandatory seat belts||Driver and all passengers must wear seat belts|
|Child passenger safety||Children under 5 must ride in an approved safety seat|
|Driving under the influence (DUI)||0.08 is the legal limit for a DUI for adults; 0.02 for drivers under 21 and 0.04 for commercial drivers. Penalties include jail time, fines, license suspension, and ignition interlock|
|Ignition interlock after DUI||Required after a DUI conviction|
|Talking on cell or texting while driving||Texting and driving is illegal. Drivers under 18 may not use cell phones on the road|
|Protections for young drivers||Graduated license program. No driving between 11 p.m. and 4 a.m. in the intermediate stage|
|Motorcycle helmet law||Partial||Required for all drivers and riders under 21. All riders must wear safety goggles or a protective eye shield|
|Bicycle helmet law||No statewide law on bike helmets|
Car Insurance Resources for Arkansas Residents
Consumer information and forms for vehicle registration.
Extensive state resource on buying insurance, types of coverage, and filing claims.
Arkansas's yearly safety profile from the Advocates for Highway & Auto Safety, an alliance of consumer, public health and insurance groups.
Graduated license info from the DFA.