Maine is famous for its hiking trails, including the Appalachian Trail which starts (or finishes) on Mt. Katahdin. Some people trade their hiking boots for snowshoes or skis in the winter, and in that season you'll be especially glad you have car insurance: Maine's snowy roads can pose a hazard for cars and drivers alike. Read on to find out Maine's insurance requirements and road safety rules.
Maine Vehicle Insurance Requirements
Maine requires more coverage for its drivers than any other state, and almost everyone follows the rules. According to data compiled by the Insurance Information Institute, over 95 percent of drivers had insurance in 2012, the second-lowest rate of uninsured drivers in the nation.
Most drivers in Maine realize they can afford to abide by the law, according to Doug Dunbar of the Maine Department of Professional and Financial Regulation. "Maine has a healthy and competitive personal auto insurance market with some of the lowest average premiums in the nation," he says.
Who Needs Vehicle Insurance in Maine?
As long as a car is registered in Maine, it needs insurance. Drivers can take their inoperable cars off insurance if they also turn in the registration and license plate. If the car holds some value, talk to an insurance agent about how to keep the vehicle protected from things that might happen to it while it's parked in the garage.
Proof of Insurance
Drivers in Maine receive an insurance card that they need to carry with them. Alternatively, they can use electronic proof of insurance. The card must show that a valid policy is in effect on the car being driven. There are three times you'll need to show it:
- When registering a vehicle
- When pulled over for a moving violation
- If you're in an accident that must be reported to the police
Minimum Liability Insurance Requirements
Maine has the highest minimum liability limits in the U.S. It also mandates several different types of coverage:
- To cover an accident at which you are at fault, you must carry $50,000/$100,000 per person/accident to cover the costs of bodily injury to another party.
- To cover an accident at which you are at fault, you must carry $25,000 to cover damages to another person's property, such as a vehicle.
- To cover another driver who is at fault but does not have adequate insurance coverage, you must carry $50,000/$100,000 per person/accident to pay for bodily injuries to you or your passengers.
- Whether an accident is caused by you or another driver, you must carry $2,000 in medical payments coverage to pay for medical or funeral expenses for people in your car.
Even with this generous coverage, industry experts generally encourage consumers to purchase higher limits and additional policies. (See: "How Much Vehicle Insurance Do You Need?" below.)
Alternatives to Insurance in Maine
Drivers who want to skip dealing with an insurance company have an alternative. They can get a certificate from a surety company. They can also deposit $127,000 in cash or securities with the treasurer of state, then show the receipt to the secretary of state. If everything is fine, they'll receive authorization from the secretary of state, which they must keep with them as proof of insurance in case of a collision or a traffic infraction.
What Happens If You Don't Have Car Insurance?
Here's what happens if you're caught without insurance:
- You are hit with a $100 to $500 fine.
- If you don't show proof of financial responsibility within 30 days of adjudication, your license and registration will be suspended until you show proof of financial responsibility.
- You'll have to pay reinstatement fees, fines and court fees to get your license back.
It's important to note that you can be dropped by insurers if your payment is even one day late. You will then be out of compliance with the law and will have to pay a reinstatement fee to your insurer.
How Much Vehicle Insurance Do You Need?
The minimum coverage levels required by law may seem impressive, but they might not cover all of your costs in an accident. The right level for you depends on your assets and the value of your vehicle, but keep in mind that experts generally recommend liability policies of $100,000 per accident/$300,000 per injury for adequate protection, according to the Insurance Information Institute.
Maine Lack Vehicle Insurance? 4.7% National Average: 12.6 %
Experts also recommend collision and comprehensive coverage for any vehicle you're not planning on driving into the junkyard within a few years. Unlike other policies, these types of coverage look after your vehicle in case of accidents — both on the roadway and off.
Required state discount
Auto insurers in Maine have to give a discounted rate for three years to senior drivers (55 and older) who complete an accident prevention course, so long as they or a person living in their house has not been at fault in an accident or received a ticket within the last three years. The amount of the discount is up to the insurers, so, as always, it's smart to shop around. Seniors can take the course again after three years to renew the discount.
For more on the topic, see our MoneyGeek guide to car insurance.
Teen Drivers in Maine
The Maine Bureau of Motor Vehicles warns that teenage drivers are three times as likely to be involved in a fatal crash compared to all other drivers. That's why the state has embraced graduated licensing, which gives young drivers more protections as they work toward a full license. Once teens graduate from a learner's permit to a full license, they will need insurance coverage just like everyone else.
Having a teenage driver on a policy will drive the price of premiums up. Parents can reduce the impact to their wallet by investing in cars with strong crash ratings and proven safety features. Among other things, they should also ask about discounts for good students and teens who take a defensive driving course.
Maine Teen Drivers: The Impact on Your Car Insurance
Median annual price change for families with a teen driver on their policy:$1,274 increase This is a difference of 108%.
Average annual premium increase if a teen gets a speeding ticket for driving 11 to 15 mph over the speed limit:
Do Maine Teens Get a Discount?
Impact on annual premium with Good Student and Defensive Driving discounts:$360 saved
Auto Insurance Premiums: Compare Maine Insurance Providers
You may save thousands with a cheaper policy, so shop around. Check out the annual average premiums for a married couple with a 16-year-old teen driver in Maine:
Which Cars Drive Up Your Premium in Maine?
The car you insure for your teen has a huge impact on your premiums.
Average premium for two 2014
Average premium for two 2008
Town and Country Limiteds
Annual benefit of minivans:
College Students in Maine
Out-of-state students coming to Maine for higher education can either leave their residency status as it is or become Maine residents. Registering to vote is one way of establishing residency in Maine, and students who do so will have 30 days to then register their car, establish insurance and get a Maine driver's license.
Conversely, Maine residents who go out of the state for school can keep their residency unless they take steps to establish residency elsewhere.
If you're in college in state or out, talk to your insurance agent about your plans. The insurer may decide to raise or lower rates based upon where you will be going to school and whether you will have a car there. Keep in mind that hiding this information could result in coverage being voided in the event of an accident. And speaking of accidents, be wary of loaning your car to friends — you may find yourself on the receiving end of a big bill if your friend isn't carrying the right coverage and gets in a collision.
Do College Students Have Lower Premiums in ME?
Median annual premium change with a college student vs. high school driver$170 decrease This is a decrease of 6%.
Compare Annual Premiums for Maine Insurers
Each year, take a look at your policy before it renews to see whether you could get a better rate. Here are the average premiums, for example, for a married couple with a 19-year-old college student in Maine.
Distance Discount for Maine College Students
You may get a small break in your family's premium if your student lives 150+ miles away from home.
Average premium for a 19-year-old male
- $2,858 at home
- $2,671 at school
- $187 in savings
Average premium for a 19-year-old female
- $2,403 at home
- $2,292 at school
- $111 in savings
Maine College Drivers: Mustangs vs. Minivans
Your college student driving a minivan will reduce your premium far more than if he or she drives a sports car — a reflection of the lower risk to insurers.
2014 Mustang GTs (2)$3,578
2008 Town and Country Limited minivans (2)$1,949
Annual benefit of minivans
Military Drivers in Maine
If you're one of the 740 active-duty military personnel living in Maine, you'll probably be able to get a discount on your auto insurance. The same holds true for the 127,000-plus veterans living in The Pine Tree State. The major carriers, including USAA, Geico and AFI, all offer discounts to military members and veterans. This discount, coupled with a good driving record, can help military families cut costs during their Maine stay.
With proof of insurance in hand, you can then take advantage of Maine's "Rapid Renewal" online service to register a vehicle, even if deployed out of state. The state government publishes a guide to auto insurance each year, with minimum requirements and the latest tips on finding the best rate in Maine.
Maine Service Members:
How Vehicle Choice Affects Your Premium
An older model SUV, sedan or minivan has less impact on your premium than a recent model sports car, since insurance industry research links sports cars with reckless driving.
Comparison of Premium Ranges by Driver Age and Vehicle for a Military Driver
Age-Based Perks for Maine
Median auto insurance
for service members:
Compare Average Premiums Available to Maine Military Personnel
When you're in the market for a car insurance policy, it pays to do some comparison shopping. Check out the average annual rates you can get in Maine.
Seniors in Maine
Maine is one of 34 states to offer a three-year discount to senior drivers aged 55 and older. Here are the details:
- You must pass a state-approved accident prevention course. You and anyone living in your household must not have received a ticket or been at fault in an accident within the last three years.
- You can take the course again after three years to re-establish the discount.
Undocumented Workers in Maine
Undocumented immigrants in Maine cannot get insurance because they cannot get driver's licenses. However, there is an alternative for younger drivers through the federal Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program. Here are the rough criteria:
- You've resided in the country continuously since 2007
- You arrived in the U.S. before turning 16
- You don't have felonies or serious misdemeanors
- You were living in the U.S. on June 15, 2012
- You're a student, a vet or have a high school diploma
Ridesharing Insurance: Are You Covered?
Maine began regulating transportation network companies (TNCs), also known as ridesharing companies, in 2015. Here's what that means in terms of insurance for Uber and Lyft drivers:
- As long as a driver has the app on, she or he must be covered by the same liability limits any other driver would have.
- As soon as the driver accepts a ride, those limits kick up to $1 million total.
To meet these requirements, the TNC, the driver or both can pay for coverage. So if you're a ridesharing driver, talk with your insurance agent and the company about what they are responsible for and what you and your car need to be fully covered.
Car Accidents: How to File a Claim in Maine
If you're in a collision, here's how to handle it:
- Exchange names, contact details and car specifics (including license plate numbers) with the other driver(s) and any witnesses.
- Record damage to the other vehicle and jot down any factors contributing to the collision (including driving conditions). Take pictures with your cell phone, if possible.
- If there are any injuries or more than $1,000 in damage to the vehicles, call the police.
- Call your insurer right away and schedule an inspection.
- Depending on who is found to be at fault and the type of coverage you have, you can file a claim with either your own insurance company or another driver's insurance company.
Best and Worst States for Drivers: How Does Maine Rank?
The overwhelming majority of Maine's 100+ annual traffic fatalities occur on rural roads. In 2013, for instance, only four of the state's 144 traffic fatalities were on urban streets.
Catherine Chase, vice president of governmental affairs for Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety, suggests the state focus on applying basic laws to improve rural driving safety: "There are different challenges based on different road conditions, but if you're driving on a rural road, you're driving at a higher speed. We definitely want to make sure that you're buckled up."
Maine 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||42||2.98||16th|
|Passenger Vehicle Unrestrained Fatalities||56||3.96||32nd|
|Unhelmeted Motorcycle Fatalities||13||0.92||34th|
|Multiple Vehicle Fatalities||55||3.89||17th|
|Total Vehicle Fatalities||145||10.26||24th|
Sources: National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, Insurance Institute for Highway Safety
Maine: Protecting You from Injury on the Road
Maine has had success in recent years in preventing crash fatalities. Take, for instance, the regulations that took effect in late 2012 that extended the intermediate license phase for teenagers — limiting passengers, restricting nighttime driving and prohibiting talking on the phone — from six months to nine months.
Chase, whose organization supports strong graduated driver licensing laws, supports those changes. Generally speaking, she says, the older that teens are when they start, the better: "They'll have more experience and more maturity under their belt."
To see more of the regulations Maine has in place, check out the table below:
Safe Driving Laws - Maine
|Mandatory seat belts||All adults must wear seat belts in all seats|
|Child passenger safety||Children under 40 lbs must ride in child safety seats; children weighing 40-80 lbs who are under 8 years old use booster seats; when children turn 8, they can wear adult seat belts|
|Driving under the influence (DUI)||DUIs are called OUIs in Maine, for "operating under the influence." The legal limit is .08 BAC; drivers under 21 cannot have any alcohol in their system and will lose their license for a year if they drive while intoxicated. Other penalties include license suspension, possible jail time and fines and other costs up to $7,000|
|Ignition interlock after DUI||People with OUIs have a financial/legal incentive to install one|
|Talking on cell or texting while driving||Texting while driving is illegal; novice drivers may not talk on the phone while driving|
|Protections for young drivers||New drivers cannot have passengers for the first nine months, nor can they drive unsupervised from midnight-5 a.m. for the first six months|
|Motorcycle helmet law||Partial||Minor passengers and motorcyclists who have held a license for less than a year must wear helmets|
|Bicycle helmet law||Partial||Children under 16 are required to wear helmets|
Car Insurance Resources for Maine Residents
This Maine Bureau of Insurance publication explains in layperson's terms the insurance terminology used, the state's requirements for coverage and what contributes to premium costs.
Even "uninsurable" drivers need insurance. The Maine Auto Insurance Plan provides a service to motorists who have been rejected by insurers on the open market.
If you feel you've been unfairly treated by your insurance company, you can file a complaint directly with the Maine Bureau of Insurance.
The process of filing a claim after an accident can be complicated. The Maine Bureau of Insurance provides answers to some of the most common questions here.
The Maine BMV is in charge of issuing and renewing licenses. New registrants or those with a suspended license will need to show proof of insurance to become legal drivers.
Although you should first contact the Maine Bureau of Insurance with complaints, you can also deal with the attorney general, where your case may be referred for mediation.
This page gives information about protections available to car buyers purchasing a used car or a new car that turns out to be a lemon. It also outlines consumers' rights in repair shops.