Featured Expert
Cathy Chase, JD
Cathy Chase, JD Advocates for Highway & Auto Safety View bio

This guide was written by

MoneyGeek Staff

Hawaii’s roads wind past stunning coastlines, volcanoes, and rainforests, but they can be risky – not because of the scenic distractions, but because of the millions of tourists that clog the roadways of the state’s six islands each year. Of the 8.6 million tourists that visited Hawaii in 2015, many are unfamiliar with the roads and traffic laws, increasing the risks for all involved. Read on to find out what you need to know about road safety and car insurance in Hawaii.

Thanks to the tropical climate, motorcyclists are on the road all year long, so drivers should be on the lookout. Motorcyclists don’t have to carry personal injury protection, and they don’t have to wear a helmet if they are over age 17. This worries safety advocates. “We all know motorcycles are the most hazardous form of transportation,” says Cathy Chase, vice president of governmental affairs for Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety. “Couple that with no helmet law, and it’s a recipe for disaster.”

Hawaii Vehicle Insurance Requirements

Summary

Hawaii repealed its No-Fault insurance law in 1997 and replaced it with a pared-down model of No-Fault insurance in 1998. The state still requires you to carry personal injury protection (PIP) to cover your own medical expenses in an accident, regardless of who is to blame. But other parts of PIP coverage that used to be mandated by law – including benefits for wage losses – are now optional.

In addition to PIP insurance, you will need to carry property damage and bodily injury liability protection to cover other people if you cause an accident. But they cannot sue you for bodily injury damage unless:

  • Their medical bills equal or exceed $5,000;
  • The injury causes serious disfigurement or permanent loss of a body function; or
  • The injury results in death

By law, insurers can’t reject you based on your age, length of driving experience, credit rating or residence, but they can deny coverage because of your driving record. If a company turns you down, they are required by law to offer to place you in the Hawaii Joint Underwriting Plan. All insurers are required to participate in this high-risk pool that covers people who can’t get insurance elsewhere. Shop around first, though, as your premiums are likely to be significantly higher through HJUP.

Who Needs Vehicle Insurance in Hawaii?

All motor vehicles registered in Hawaii must be insured, and Hawaii does a better job than most states of enforcing this rule. An estimated 8.9 percent of Hawaiian drivers are uninsured, according to the National Insurance Research Council.

Motorcycle and motor scooter drivers are exempt from the PIP requirement, but they must purchase the same minimum bodily injury and property damage liability insurance as other drivers.

Proof of Insurance

You must carry a valid Hawaii motor vehicle insurance identification card in your vehicle at all times. If you don’t, you can get a ticket and be fined.

Minimum Liability Insurance Requirements

Hawaii requires all drivers of motor vehicles to carry the following minimum coverage:

  • $10,000 per person personal injury protection (PIP) to cover your medical and rehabilitative costs, and those of your passengers, regardless of who is at fault.
  • $20,000 per person/$40,000 per accident bodily injury liability to cover medical expenses for others if you are at fault.
  • $10,000 per occurrence property damage liability to cover property damage to others if you are at fault.

By law, your insurance agent must advise you of uninsured and underinsured motorist insurance options. If you choose to decline this insurance, you must do so in writing.

What Happens If You Drive Without Car Insurance in Hawaii?

If you are caught driving without car insurance in Hawaii, you can be fined $500 and have your license suspended for three months. That’s just the first offense. Subsequent offenses within a five-year period can result in up to $5,000 in fines, a one-year license and suspension, revocation of your vehicle registration, impoundment and sale of your vehicle, and a month in jail.

How Much Vehicle Insurance Do You Need?

Most insurance experts and consumer advocates recommend purchasing much more than the minimum insurance required by law. Why? To protect your assets in the event of a serious accident.

What Percentage of Drivers in
Hawaii Lack Vehicle Insurance?
8.9% National Average: 12.6 %

But of course this will increase your premiums, so you should discuss your budget and assets with your insurance agent to come up with a plan that is realistic. If you can afford it, experts recommend liability coverage of 100/300 — that is, $100,000 per injured person and $300,000 per accident, according to the Insurance Information Institute.

There are also ways to reduce your premiums without reducing your coverage, such as combining your car and homeowners insurance. You can keep your premiums down by keeping a clean driving record (don’t cause accidents and don’t get tickets).

Also, driving less can keep premiums down. For example, if you don’t drive to work every day, you can reduce your premiums 15 to 25 percent.

Car Insurance and Special Groups

Teen Drivers in Hawaii

There is no question that adding your teen to your insurance policy will significantly increase your premium. Here are a few things your teen can do to help keep those rates down:

  • Maintain a clean driving record with no crashes or moving violations. Many insurers offer discounts for three years or more with a clean record.
  • Keep up the grades. Some insurance companies offer Good Student Discounts.
  • Only drive the family’s oldest, least expensive car. Avoid driving convertibles, sports cars and SUVs – they are usually more expensive to insure.

You may also want to ask your insurance company about an “accident forgiveness” clause that guarantees premiums will not increase after one minor accident.

Hawaii Car Insurance Premiums: The Impact of a Teen Driver

Median annual price change for families with a teen driver on their policy:

$179 increase This is a difference of 13%.
Comparison of Premium Ranges
25th - 75th Percentile Median
Watch Your Speedometer

Average annual premium increase if a teen gets a speeding ticket while driving 11-15 mph over the speed limit:

Male teen

$375

Speedometer
Female teen

$375

Discounts for Hawaii's Teen Drivers

Impact on annual premium with Good Student and Defensive Driving discounts:

$0 saved

Compare Auto Insurance Premiums from Hawaii Insurers

Policy costs vary tremendously, so do some comparison shopping. Here are the annual average premiums for a married couple with a 16-year-old teen driver in Hawaii:

Insurance Provider Min MEDIAN MAX
GEICO $825 $1,350 $2,535
State Farm $901 $1,437 $1,864
USAA $932 $1,630 $3,140
Allstate $1,521 $2,965 $6,005
Liberty Mutual $2,320 $4,740 $10,674

Hawaii Premiums: The Difference a Car Makes

Do insurers consider sports cars a more risky choice for teens than sedans and minivans? Yes, and your premium rates will reflect it, according to industry representatives.

Average premium for two 2014
Mustang GTs

$3,339

Average premium for two 2008
Town and Country Limiteds

$1,950

Annual benefit of minivans:

$1,389 saved This is 42% less expensive.
Premium Comparison for Two Adults + 16 Year Old
25th - 75th Percentile Median

College Students in Hawaii

If your child goes to a nearby college and still lives at home, he or she will still be insured. But if your child is away at school for nine months a year, you will need to inform your insurer of the move and find out if your child is still covered. If your child has no plans to drive at school, you may be able to remove her from your policy.

Alternatively, some insurers will offer a discount if your student is living over 100 miles from where the insured vehicle is kept and doesn’t have access to a car while at school.

High School Drivers vs. College Students in Hawaii

Median annual premium change with a college student vs. high school driver

$0 decrease This is a decrease of 0%.
Comparison of Premium Ranges
25th - 75th Percentile Median

Annual Premiums: How Hawaii Insurers Compare

Each year, take a look at your policy before it renews to see whether you could get a better deal. Case in point: Here are the average premiums for a married couple and a 19-year-old college student in Hawaii.

Provider Min MEDIAN MAX
GEICO $825 $1,350 $2,535
State Farm $901 $1,418 $1,691
USAA $932 $1,627 $3,063
Allstate $1,521 $2,847 $4,804
Liberty Mutual $2,320 $4,648 $8,760

Hawaii College Students: Distance Discount

You may see a slight savings in your family’s auto insurance premium if your student lives 150+ miles away from home.

Average premium for a 19-year-old male
  • $2,413 at home
  • $2,413 at school
  • $0 in savings
Average premium for a 19-year-old female
  • $2,410 at home
  • $2,410 at school
  • $0 in savings

Which Cars Drive Up Your Premium in Hawaii?

If your college student drives a family car like a sedan or minivan, your premium will cost less than if he or she drives a sports car -- a reflection of insurance data that links sports cars to speeding.

2014 Mustang GTs (2)

$3,236

2008 Town and Country Limited minivans (2)

$1,889

Annual benefit of minivans

$1,347 saved This is 42% less expensive.
Premium Comparison for Two Adults + College Driver
25th - 75th Percentile Median

Military Drivers in Hawaii

Hawaii has more than 50,000 active duty military personnel and more than 100,000 veterans. If your Hawaii driver’s license expires during an overseas deployment, you will have 90 days upon your return to the United States to renew it, but you must bring proof of your deployment along with your other papers when you apply for renewal.

Before you leave for your deployment, talk with your insurance agent about whether you can suspend parts of your auto insurance. If your car won’t be used in your absence, this could be a safe way to save money on your premium.

Hawaii Service Members:
The Vehicle You Drive May Cost You

Rollover crashes are more common among SUVs and pickups, according to the Insurance Information Institute, but an older model SUV still has less impact on your premium than a recent model sports car.

Comparison of Premium Ranges by Driver Age and Vehicle for a Military Driver
25-Year-Old Driver
50-Year-Old Driver
25th - 75th Percentile Median

Age Savings for Hawaii
Service Members

Median auto insurance
for service members:

$904
Male (25 yrs)$1,319
Male (50 yrs)$1,319
$0 savings
Female (25 yrs)$1,319
Female (50 yrs)$1,319
$0 savings

Compare Average Premiums Available to Hawaii Military Personnel

Whether you're in the military or not, it pays to do some comparison shopping. Check out the average annual rates you can get in Hawaii.

Premium Comparison for a Military Driver
25th - 75th Percentile Median

Seniors in Hawaii

Hawaii isn’t one of the 33 states that mandate car insurance discounts for people over 55 if they take a safety course, but check with your insurance agent because some companies will offer a discount anyway. If so, it’s probably worth taking the brief course (which can often be taken online).

When you retire, inform your insurance provider of your change in situation. You may be able to save money on your premiums because you are no longer driving long miles to and from work.

Undocumented Workers in Hawaii

In 2015 Hawaii approved a law authorizing undocumented immigrants to obtain driver’s licenses if they can provide satisfactory proof of identity (like a passport or foreign birth certificate) and proof of Hawaii residency. The law went into effect Jan. 1, 2016.

Ridesharing Insurance: Are You Covered?

Hawaii is one of about a dozen states that have no legislation regulating ridesharing businesses. A bill was introduced in the state Senate in 2015 but failed to pass.

If you’re a ridesharing driver:

If you drive for a ridesharing company like Uber or Lyft, be sure that that their insurance plan will cover both you and your passengers in the event of an accident. Most personal insurance plans will not cover you when driving for business. Both Uber and Lyft offer some liability protection for drivers and passengers, but they may not cover you if you’re working but not carrying a passenger. Check with your insurer to see what you need to be fully covered.

If you’re a ridesharing passenger, be sure to check with your insurer to see whether you’re fully covered.

Car Accidents: How to File a Claim

If you get in a car accident, you are required by law to stop. If there are damages that appear to be over $3,000 or if anyone is injured, you must report the accident to the police. If you are in a minor fender-bender, the damage to either vehicle is under $3,000, and there are no injuries, you do not need to report the accident to the police. Just pull over, get the other driver’s name, address and phone number, and exchange insurance information. Then report the accident to your insurance company.

Because of the No-Fault insurance laws in Hawaii, your insurer will cover your injuries (up to the limit of coverage). If there is property damage, a claim will be filed against the liability insurance of the driver at fault.

Driver Safety: How Does Hawaii Rank?

Hawaii has one of the highest motorcycle fatality rates in the country – a thirty percent death rate for every 100 million miles traveled, according to the data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). In its overall car accident fatalities, more than 60 percent of the victims were not wearing seat belts, and alcohol is involved in a third of the deaths, according to NHTSA data.

Hawaii Driver Safety Ranking

34th in the U.S.
About Our Data

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.

Ranking
(National)

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 34 3.33 27th
Speeding-Related Fatalities 44 4.36 40th
Passenger Vehicle Unrestrained Fatalities 23 2.28 12th
Unhelmeted Motorcycle Fatalities 19 1.88 50th
Multiple Vehicle Fatalities 32 3.17 7th
Pedestrian Fatalities 23 1.64 36th
Bicyclist Fatalities 2 0.14 23rd
Total Vehicle Fatalities 102 10.10 22nd

Sources: National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, Insurance Institute for Highway Safety

Hawaii: Protecting You from Injury on the Road

Hawaii’s traffic safety laws are a mixed bag. They do not require motorcyclists over age 17 to wear helmets, earning the state poor marks from Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety. But they do have strict seatbelt, child safety, and distracted driving provisions.

Safe Driving Laws – Hawaii

  Requirement State Law Details
Mandatory seat belts For driver and all passengers.
Child passenger safety Child seat required under age 4; booster seat required age 4 to 7.
Driving under the influence (DUI) 1st DUI conviction requires 3-month suspension, limited driving privileges allowed after 30 days.
Ignition interlock after DUI Mandatory for all DUI convictions.
Talking on cell or texting while driving Talking with handheld device and texting prohibited for all drivers. Drivers under 18 may not use cell phone at all.
Protections for young drivers No more than one passenger under age 18 (except for family), no driving 11 p.m. to 5 a.m. before age 17 unless with parent or guardian (or with written permission from work or school). No mobile devices (including hands-free) until age 18.
Motorcycle helmet law Partial Only required for drivers under age 18 (universal law was repealed in 1977).
Bicycle helmet law Partial Required for those under age 16.

Sources: Governors Highway Safety Association and National Highway Traffic Safety Administration

Car Insurance Resources for Hawaii Residents

Motor Vehicle Registration Departments

Hawaii doesn’t have a central Department of Motor Vehicles; each county has its own department. Here you can find links to all of them.

Hawaii Department of Transportation

Statewide agency provides information on all aspects of transportation.

Department of Commerce and Consumer Affairs, Insurance Division

Information on Hawaii’s insurance requirements, also the place to go to file a complaint.

Hawaii State Legislature

Searchable database of all state statutes related to traffic safety and insurance.

Premium Comparison Chart

A breakdown of the average premiums charged by the major insurers in the state.

Updated: July 28, 2017