With its lush forests and historic towns, Mississippi can be a beautiful place to drive, but it's also dangerous. According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, Mississippi has the country's highest fatality rate per mile driven. Unfortunately, not everyone heeds the threat: over 23 percent of Mississippi's drivers lack insurance, nearly twice the national average. Read on to learn more about the coverage you need to protect yourself on the road in the Magnolia State.
Mississippi Vehicle Insurance Requirements
With a median annual income of around $42,000, Mississippi is the poorest state in the country. Mississippi drivers spend less on their car insurance than the national average, but car insurance is still a big expense.
That said, smart shoppers can often find deals if they know where to look. And because the state is cracking down on people who flout insurance laws, getting the cheap but robust coverage has never made more sense.
Who Needs Vehicle Insurance in Mississippi?
Everyone who drives in Mississippi needs to have liability insurance or show another form of financial responsibility.
If you can't get an insurer to cover you because of your driving history or risk profile, you can apply for insurance from the Mississippi Automobile Insurance Assigned Risk Plan. The plan provides bodily injury and property damage liability insurance to high-risk drivers who can't get an insurance policy on their own.
To be eligible for the plan, you must apply and certify that you have attempted to obtain insurance during the past two months but were unable to get a policy. Assigned risk insurance costs more, so try to get your own policy before resorting to the assigned risk pool.
Proof of Insurance
You are required to carry proof of insurance in your car at all times. This can be a paper copy or an electronic version of your insurance card on your mobile device.
You risk a citation and fine if you have insurance but can't prove it. A police officer cannot pull you over only to check your insurance card, but he or she can ask for it if you are pulled over for any other reason.
Minimum Liability Insurance Requirements
The minimum amount of liability coverage required to legally drive in Mississippi is:
- $25,000 for injury for one person
- $50,000 for injury for two or more people in one accident
- $25,000 in property damage liability
Alternatives to Insurance
Most people choose to purchase a car insurance policy, but there are alternatives. You could buy a bond or make a $15,000 cash deposit with the state. If you're at fault in an accident that costs more than your bond or cash deposit, though, you may still be liable for the difference.
What Happens If You Drive Without Car Insurance in Mississippi?
If you are caught driving without insurance, the penalty is up to $1,000 and a suspension of driving privileges for a year, or until you can show proof of insurance. If you are able to show proof of insurance at court, you may get the fine reduced to $100.
The state may also require you to file an SR22 certificate from your insurer, which verifies that you have purchased liability insurance and will maintain it for a certain period of time (often three years).
How Much Vehicle Insurance Do You Need?
The law sets the minimum amount of liability insurance you must have, but experts recommend getting liability coverage of $100,000 per injury and $300,000 per accident. Often this may only cost a few more dollars a month.
Mississippi Lack Vehicle Insurance? 23.7% National Average: 13 % (Source: Insurance Research Council - latest data, 2015)
Other common types of car insurance include:
Uninsured Motorist Coverage: This coverage could come in handy in a state like Mississippi, where such a high percentage of drivers are uninsured. It covers your medical expenses if you are in an accident and the person at fault is uninsured.
Collision/Comprehensive Coverage: If you have a new car with a loan, your lender will probably require you to have collision and comprehensive insurance.
Medical Coverage: If you don't already have good health insurance, this could save you a lot of money if you're injured in an accident.
If you decide you want a certain type of coverage but the price tag seems too high, consider increasing your deductible. Talk with your insurance agent about what is right for you.
Teen Drivers in Mississippi
Mississippi has a graduated driver's license program for teens, which safety experts recommend to help teens gain driving experience under the safest conditions. But the state still earns a "dangerous" rating for teen driver safety laws from Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety because it hasn't passed a number of recommended safety laws for teens, including:
- Requiring supervised driving hours during the permit period
- Limiting the number of teen passengers that teenage drivers can carry
- Requiring teens to be at least 18 to get an unrestricted license
Teens are notoriously expensive to insure because they are considered high-risk drivers, mostly due to their lack of experience behind the wheel and their impulsive behavior.
"Parents are going to pay more when they add a young driver to their auto insurance policy," said Michael Barry, vice president of media relations at the Insurance Information Institute. "Yet high school and college students who maintain at least a 3.0 grade point average (GPA) can usually qualify for a good student discount."
Mississippi Car Insurance: The Impact of a Teen Driver
Median annual price change for families with a teen driver on their policy:$1,732 increase This is a difference of 106%.
Average annual premium increase if a teen gets a speeding ticket for driving 11-15 mph over the speed limit:
What Are the Savings for Mississippi Teens?
Impact on annual premium with Good Student and Defensive Driving discounts:$274 saved
How Mississippi Insurer Premiums Compare
Policy costs vary more than you may think, so shop around. The annual average premiums for a married couple with a 16-year-old teen driver in Mississippi differ by thousands of dollars:
|Mississippi Farm Bureau||$1,552||$3,110||$5,168|
Car Choices for Teens: Impact on Mississippi Premiums
Insurers consider sports cars a more risky choice for teens than sedans and minivans, and 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 Mississippi
When your child starts college, it's a good idea to call your insurance company to inform them of any change in living conditions or driving habits.
If she continues living at home, there may be no change to your premiums. But if she is moving away, you could save money. "If you've got a college student on your policy, and the student is living at least 100 miles from home during the school year without having access to a car, let your insurance professional know," says Barry. "That should reduce your premiums."
Mississippi College Students vs. Teen Drivers
Median annual premium change with a college student vs. high school driver$610 decrease This is a decrease of 17%.
Annual Premiums: How Mississippi Insurers Compare
Each year, take a look at your policy before it renews to see whether you could get a better deal. Check out the average premiums for a married couple with a 19-year-old college student in Mississippi.
|Mississippi Farm Bureau||$1,252||$2,544||$4,216|
Distance Discount: Savings for Mississippi College Students
You may see a modest break in your family's premium if your student lives 150+ miles away from home with no access to a car.
Average premium for a 19-year-old male
- $3,284 at home
- $2,916 at school
- $368 in savings
Average premium for a 19-year-old female
- $2,836 at home
- $2,596 at school
- $240 in savings
Mississippi College Drivers: Mustangs vs. Minivans
You'll save on your premium if your college student drives a minivan rather than a sports car — a reflection of the lower risk to insurers.
2014 Mustang GTs (2)$3,707
2008 Town and Country Limited minivans (2)$2,381
Annual benefit of minivans
Military Drivers in Mississippi
More than 11,000 active-duty military personnel live in Mississippi. If you are deployed for a long period and your vehicle will be left unused at home, be sure to notify your insurer and ask about discounts or whether you can suspend all or part of your coverage.
If money is tight, you may want to cancel your coverage while you are away. Mississippi law does not allow an insurance company to increase your rate if you cancelled or didn't renew your policy because you were called to active duty — as long as your car was not used during the cancellation period. However, you will be responsible for the costs if your car is damaged or stolen in your absence, so be sure it is in a secure place.
If you are a Mississippi resident temporarily deployed out of state, you can renew your license by mail. Otherwise, you will have 90 days after discharge to renew your license upon your return to Mississippi. If you are a resident of another state temporarily stationed in Mississippi, you and your family can continue to drive with your license and registration from home.
Mississippi Service Members:
How Vehicle Choice Affects Your Premium
Insurers associate sports cars with reckless driving, according to the Insurance Information Institute, and 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-Based Perks for Mississippi
Median auto insurance
for service members:
Compare Average Premiums Available to Mississippi Military Personnel
Before your policy renews, it pays to do some comparison shopping. Check out the average annual rates you can get in Mississippi.
Seniors in Mississippi
Mississippi state law does mandate senior discounts on car insurance for drivers over 55 who complete a safe driving course. Note that once you turn 70, some discount programs may be discontinued because your risk of an accident increases.
You may also be able to get a discount on your car insurance if you don't drive much, or if you limit your driving to daylight hours. "Ask your insurance professional about whether you qualify for low-mileage discounts or consider raising your deductible to keep premiums down," Barry said.
Undocumented Workers in Mississippi
If you are not a U.S. citizen, you must provide proof of legal immigration status when you apply for a driver's license in Mississippi. Otherwise, the National Conference of State Legislatures, notes that Mississippi does not allow driving privileges to unauthorized immigrants.
This reality may contribute to Mississippi's high rate of uninsured drivers, since a driver's license is a prerequisite for car insurance. In addition, studies show that uninsured drivers are three to five times more likely to get in a car crash.
Ridesharing Insurance in Mississippi: Are You Covered?
As far as state-mandated insurance is concerned, Mississippi's rideshare requirements are par for the course: liability limits of 50/100/25 with $1 million in coverage while the driver is engaged with a passenger.
If you are a driver:
Your TNC probably provides some liability coverage while you are carrying passengers, but it may not cover your medical costs or physical damage to your vehicle. Once you understand what the TNC covers, call your insurance agent. Usually, personal insurance policies won't cover drivers if they are using their vehicle to transport people for money. You may need to purchase commercial insurance.
Car Accidents: How to File a Claim in Mississippi
If you are in an accident, call the police if anyone is injured or killed, or if property damage appears to exceed $500.
Exchange information with the other driver, including your name, address, registration number, license number, and insurance company name. Take notes about the accident and what happened, and take photos or maybe sketch a picture of the scene. The Mississippi Insurance Department advises you not to admit fault. Even if it is your fault, you can leave that determination to the police and the insurance companies.
When the police arrive on the scene, you must show them proof of insurance. Call your insurance company as soon as possible to inform them of the accident. Your claim should be paid or denied promptly. If the insurer denies your claim, they must explain why in writing. If you are unable to resolve a dispute with your insurance company, contact the Insurance Department to file a complaint.
Driver Safety: How Does Mississippi Rank?
Mississippi 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||208||5.38||47th|
|Passenger Vehicle Unrestrained Fatalities||284||7.33||50th|
|Unhelmeted Motorcycle Fatalities||3||0.08||9th|
|Multiple Vehicle Fatalities||220||5.68||39th|
|Total Vehicle Fatalities||613||15.82||49th|
Sources: National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, Insurance Institute for Highway Safety
Mississippi: Protecting You from Injury on the Road
Mississippi falls "dangerously behind" in adopting some key traffic safety laws, according to Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety. The state still allows people to talk on the cell phone while driving and to carry open containers of alcohol in the car. On the bright side, the state requires all motorcyclists and passengers to wear helmets and passed a ban on texting while driving. It has also recently updated its seatbelt laws to require that even backseat passengers have to buckle up.
Safe Driving Laws - Mississippi
|Mandatory seatbelts||Partial||For driver and all passengers, by primary law|
|Child passenger safety||Child seat required until age 4, booster seat required until age 6 (and under 57" or under 65 lbs)|
|Driving under the influence (DUI)||$500 to $1,000 fine, license suspension for conviction, possible jail time, and possible requirement for SR22 prior to reinstatement|
|Ignition interlock after DUI||Mandatory for all convictions|
|Talking on cell or texting while driving||Texting while driving is banned, but using a device is legal for adults and minors alike|
|Protections for young drivers||During first six months with license, no driving 10 p.m. to 6 a.m. Sun-Thurs, and 11:30 p.m. - 6 a.m., Fri-Sat|
|Motorcycle helmet law||Universal helmet law|
|Bicycle helmet law||No statewide law|
Source: Governors Highway Safety Association, 2016
Car Insurance Resources for Mississippi Residents
You can renew your driver's license, pay reinstatement fees and check your driving record online here.
Here you can find information about insurance requirements and penalties.
Maintains the roadways and provides information on traffic safety and road conditions.
The Department of Transportation provides a guide with evacuation routes and safety tips for drivers, just in case. Remember: if a hurricane's approaching, head north.
The state provides a searchable database of all companies licensed to sell you insurance in Mississippi.