From the Rockies in the north to the farmland of the south, Idaho is a great state for sight-seeing, recreation and, yes, driving. Almost all residents of Idaho follow the rules when it comes to car insurance. If you're an Idahoan, you'll want to join the crowd. Read on to learn more about insurance and other rules of the road in the Gem State.
Insurance Requirements for Idaho Vehicles
Idaho is a comparative fault state, which means the blame for a car crash can be spread among all the drivers in the accident. If a crash causes $10,000 in damage and one driver is ruled to be 80 percent at fault, the other driver would only be responsible for $2,000 in damages. In other words, safe driving has its rewards.
Who Needs Vehicle Insurance in Idaho?
Idaho law requires all car and truck owners to carry liability coverage as well as uninsured and underinsured motorist insurance. The only alternative is to post a good-sized bond with the DMV (See Alternatives to Insurance, below).
Proof of Insurance
Idaho drivers must provide proof of insurance before registering a car or truck with the DMV. In addition, drivers must show proof of insurance:
- When stopped by a police officer
- After any accident involving injury, death or property damage of $1,500 or more
In Idaho, you can store a copy of your insurance card on a cell phone and display it as proof of insurance when asked.
Minimum Auto Insurance Requirements in Idaho
Idaho law requires the following minimum liability coverage:
- $25,000 for injury to one person in an accident
- $50,000 for injury to two or more in an accident
- $15,000 for property damage
Idaho law also requires all auto insurance policies to include uninsured and underinsured motorist coverage, which help you cover costs in you're in an accident with some who has no insurance.
The state requires uninsured/underinsured motorist insurance at these levels:
- $25,000 for injury to one person in an accident
- $50,000 for injury to two or more in an accident
- $15,000 for property damage
Alternatives to insurance
As an alternative to buying auto insurance, you can leave a $50,000 deposit or bond per auto or truck with the state. However, if the accident costs more than that and you're at fault, you'll be liable for the difference.
What Happens If You Drive Without Car Insurance in Idaho?
Idaho drivers who operate a motor vehicle without at least the minimum required insurance or a secured bond can face heavy penalties. Besides license suspension, here's the potential damage:
- First offense $75
Second and subsequent offenses:
- Fines of up to $1,000
- Up to six months in jail
When your driver's license is suspended, you'll have to give proof of insurance to the DMV before getting your driving privileges restored. Fees for reinstatement range from $15 to $285, depending on the reason for the suspension and number of times the license has been revoked. You'll have to pay at a local office of the Idaho Transportation Department; fines cannot be paid online.
Idaho's automatic verification system is helping the state lower the number of uninsured motorists, says Steve Grant, a spokesperson for the state's Transportation Department. "The DMV agent can run an instant check on insurance before registering a vehicle," Grant says. "Law enforcement is also going to know on the spot at a traffic stop, and if a driver doesn't have liability coverage that's going to be a problem for them."
How Much Vehicle Insurance Do You Really Need?
The Idaho Department of Insurance cautions that the minimum state requirements for auto insurance coverage may not adequately cover all drivers.
Idaho Lack Vehicle Insurance? 6.7% National Average: 12.6 %
Industry experts say a good rule of thumb is to buy 10 times the state-required minimum liability insurance coverage - or at least $100,000 per injury and $300,000 per accident.
If your car is new or valuable, you may want to get collision and comprehensive insurance. Collision will help pay to repair or replace your car if you're in a crash. Comprehensive coverage, on the other hand, helps protect against damage from storms, fire, theft, and natural disasters such as tornadoes. If you buy a new car on financing, the lender will probably require you carry both types of insurance.
For other common types of insurance and what types are right for you, see our MoneyGeek guide to car insurance.
Teen Drivers in Idaho
In Idaho, drivers under 21 must have the minimum mandatory insurance required by law. By agreeing to a higher deductible with the insurance company, younger drivers (or their parents) may be able to hold down their auto insurance premiums.
The Impact of a Teen Driver on Idaho Car Insurance Premiums
Median annual price change for families with a teen driver on their policy:$1,419 increase This is a difference of 144%.
Average annual premium increase if a teen gets a speeding ticket while driving 11-15 mph over the speed limit:
Driver Discounts for Idaho Teens
Impact on annual premium with Good Student and Defensive Driving discounts:$223 saved
How Idaho Insurer Premiums Compare
Policy costs vary enormously, so shop around. Check out the annual average premiums for a married couple with a 16-year-old teen driver in Idaho:
|Farm Bureau of ID Group||$518||$1,022||$1,590|
How Car Choice Affects Idaho Premiums
Why do insurers consider sports cars a more risky choice for teens than sedans and minivans? They're associated with speeding, according to industry insiders -- and premium rates reflect it.
Average premium for two 2014
Average premium for two 2008
Town and Country Limiteds
Annual benefit of minivans:
College Drivers in Idaho
Out-of-state college students are not required to get an Idaho driver's license, but they must still meet the state's minimum car insurance requirements. Many insurance companies offer discounts to students who maintain good college grades. Students can also stay on their parents' policies if they still live at home. In addition, the Idaho Department of Insurance advises college drivers to:
- Tell the insurance company in writing if a car will be driven in another state for more than 30 days a year.
- Think twice about letting friends borrow the car, because the owner remains liable for any accidents.
Do College Students Have Lower Premiums in ID?
Median annual premium change with a college student vs. high school driver$597 decrease This is a decrease of 22%.
Annual Premiums for Idaho Insurance Providers
Each year, pore over your policy before it renews to see whether you could get a better rate. Compare the average premiums for a married couple with a 19-year-old college student in Idaho.
|Farm Bureau of ID Group||$534||$996||$1,482|
A Surprising Discount for Idaho College Drivers
You may see a slight savings in your family's premium if your student lives 150+ miles away from home.
Average premium for a 19-year-old male
- $2,224 at home
- $1,805 at school
- $419 in savings
Average premium for a 19-year-old female
- $1,933 at home
- $1,645 at school
- $288 in savings
Will Your Car Choice Affect Your Premium in Idaho?
If your college student drives a minivan instead of a sports car, you'll pay much less for your insurance premium.
2014 Mustang GTs (2)$2,457
2008 Town and Country Limited minivans (2)$1,439
Annual benefit of minivans
Military Drivers in Idaho
When shopping for auto insurance in Idaho, veterans and enlisted on active duty should look for discounts available specifically to them. Many insurance companies offer reduced rates and some work exclusively with military families and vets.
Idaho, which has more than 3,600 active-duty military personnel living in the state, does not grant any extensions on vehicle registration while military personnel are deployed, so be sure to renew by sending the registration fees to the assessor's office in your home county.
Idaho Service Members:
How Vehicle Choice Affects Your Premium
Rollover crashes are more common among SUVs and pickups, according to researchers, but an older model SUV still has less effect on your premium than a recent model sports car.
Military Drivers: How Premium Ranges Differ by Driver Age and Vehicle
Age-Based Savings for Idaho
Median auto insurance
for service members:
Compare Annual Rates Available to Idaho Military Personnel
Whether you're in the military or not, it pays to do some shopping. Here are the average annual rates you can get in Idaho.
Seniors in Idaho
Drivers 55 and older qualify for auto insurance discounts by passing an Idaho-approved safe driving class. State law requires insurance companies to offer the discount. Better yet, the course can be completed online.
Undocumented Workers in Idaho
Idaho law allows only immigrants who arrived in the country legally to get a driver's license, a prerequisite for car insurance. But young immigrants may qualify under the federal Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, or DACA. If you have arrived in the United States before age 16 and have lived here continuously since 2007, contact the Division of Motor Vehicles to see if you are eligible.
Ridesharing Insurance: Are You Covered?
Ridesharing services such as Lyft and Uber are legal across Idaho. A 2015 law allows ridesharing companies to self-regulate without dealing with city and county laws.
In a news statement, Uber said it maintains a $1 million commercial liability policy "from the moment a driver-partner accepts a trip request until the completion of the ride - which goes well above requirements of traditional transportation options in Idaho." Uber also said it insures up to $50,000 per person for injury or $100,000 for all injuries and $25,000 per accident for property damage if an Uber driver-partner's personal auto insurance does not cover an accident.
If you're a ridesharing driver, check with your insurance agent to make sure you're fully covered. Ridesharing companies may not pay for collision and comprehensive insurance, which protects your vehicle, and personal auto policies generally don't cover "driving for hire."
Car Accidents: How to File a Claim in Idaho
After an accident, the Idaho Department of Insurance says you should take these steps in filing an insurance claim:
- Immediately report the accident to the police if there is an injury, death or property damage of more than $1,500.
- Exchange insurance information with the other driver(s). Other experts recommend getting contact information from witnesses and taking photos at the scene, if possible.
- Report the accident to the other driver's insurance company as well as your own.
- Let the insurance company inspect any damaged vehicles before repairs are made.
Driver Safety: How Does Idaho Rank?
Idaho's driver fatality rate is more than 20 percent higher than the U.S. average, according to figures from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.
Deaths from drunk driving are also higher than the national average in the Gem State. Idaho has begun a campaign against impaired driving called "Courageous Voices," which appears on radio, television, print and online. YouTube ads, including Blackfoot Bar, Lewiston House Party, and others, encourage Idaho residents to intervene to protect people from drinking and driving.
"Everyone can choose to speak up when they encounter someone who should not be driving," the Idaho Department of Transportation states. "The choices are simple: individuals who have been drinking either need to stay where they are or get a ride.
Idaho 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||58||3.62||36th|
|Passenger Vehicle Unrestrained Fatalities||98||6.13||47th|
|Unhelmeted Motorcycle Fatalities||12||0.75||29th|
|Multiple Vehicle Fatalities||78||4.88||31st|
|Total Vehicle Fatalities||214||13.39||38th|
Sources: National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, Insurance Institute for Highway Safety
Idaho: Protecting You from Injury on the Road
Idaho has many laws on the books to protect drivers, but Grant says the state could be doing more. The biggest improvement to driving safety in Idaho would be a law that lets police pull drivers over for seat belt violations. For now, officers can only ticket seat belt violators who are pulled over for another reason, and it's only a $15 fine.
"We'd like to see this change," Grant says. "Our law enforcement and other safety partners also hope we'll get there. People who are buckled up tend to survive crashes and have reduced injuries."
Safe Driving Laws - Idaho
|Mandatory seat belts||All drivers and passengers must wear seat belts, but there's no primary seat belt enforcement law, meaning that law enforcement can't pull someone over for not buckling up alone.|
|Child passenger safety||Approved safety or booster seat required for children 6 and younger.|
|Driving under the influence (DUI)||A blood alcohol content of 0.08 is the legal limit for an adult DUI conviction; however, the limit drops to 0.02 for drivers under 21. Penalties for the first conviction may include six months in jail, fines, and license suspension; penalties increase with multiple convictions.|
|Ignition interlock after DUI||Must be in place at least one year for repeat offenders.|
|Talking on cell or texting while driving||Texting is illegal. No law against talking on a cell while driving.|
|Protections for young drivers||Three-stage licensing (GDL) with a prohibition on unsupervised driving from sundown to sunrise during intermediate stage; limits on the number of teen passengers during first six months after getting a license.|
|Motorcycle helmet law||Partial||Helmet required for all riders under 18 unless on private property.|
|Bicycle helmet law||No statewide law.|
Car Insurance Resources for Idaho Residents
Consumer resource on auto insurance requirements, including how to find an agent and file a complaint against an insurance company.
Online services and forms for registering vehicles.
Resource for driving manuals published in different languages.
DMV website with consumer information and downloadable forms to save time before visiting an office.
A yearly report on Idaho road safety law status from Advocates for Highway and Road Safety, an alliance of consumer, public health, medical and insurer groups.