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Matt Kennicott
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Insurance Requirements for Vehicles in New Mexico

Summary

New Mexico offers drivers more than 2,900 miles of scenic roadways, from the Abo Pass to the Jemez Mountain Trail. Unfortunately, a lot of people who are enjoying the view lack auto insurance. New Mexico ranks fourth in the nation for the most uninsured drivers, with an estimated 21.6 percent of the drivers driving “going bare” in insurance-speak. Here’s what residents need to know to protect themselves and find the right insurance.

Who Needs Vehicle Insurance in New Mexico?

Everyone who drives in New Mexico must have car insurance (or leave a large deposit with the state). If you are not driving your vehicle — say, it’s a classic Chevy that doesn’t run, or it’s in storage — you can file an Affidavit of Non-Use with the Motor Vehicles Division (MVD) every year. Your vehicle won’t be insured, but you won’t be penalized as long as you don’t drive it.

Proof of Insurance

When you register your vehicle at the MVD you will have to show proof of insurance with one of the following:

  • A current auto insurance card
  • A copy of your current auto insurance policy, or
  • A letter from your auto insurance company (on company letterhead) that verifies your auto insurance coverage.

New Mexico is one of a dwindling number of states that doesn’t accept electronic proof of insurance on your smartphone, so carry your insurance card or policy in your glove compartment.

Minimum Liability Insurance Requirements in New Mexico

New Mexico’s minimum requirement for auto insurance coverage is:

  • $25,000 for bodily injury to or death of one person
  • $50,000 for bodily injury to or death of two or more persons
  • $10,000 for property damage in any one accident

If you cancel or fail to renew your insurance policy, by law your insurer must notify the MVD.

You can choose to purchase a surety bond or make a cash deposit of $60,000 with the state Treasurer instead of purchasing car insurance. This money will be used to cover expenses if you cause a car accident.

What Happens If You Drive Without Car Insurance in New Mexico?

If you are caught driving without insurance in New Mexico, you will receive a citation and your registration will be suspended. According to the Mandatory Financial Responsibility Act, you must return your registration and license plate to the MVD within 10 days of the suspension or you may face criminal penalties.

The Motor Vehicle Department (and the police) use an insurance identification database to verify all vehicle insurance policies online and compare them to the DMV’s registrations. If the system flags your car as registered but not insured, the DMV will send you a Notice of Noncompliance. If you are insured, immediately call your insurance company and have them send in proof of insurance.

If you or your insurance company doesn’t provide proof within 30 days, your registration will be suspended. To get your registration reinstated you will have to show proof of insurance and pay $30 in fees.

How Much Vehicle Insurance Do You Need in New Mexico?

If you can afford it, get enough liability insurance to protect your assets in case you are in a catastrophic accident. Most insurance professionals and consumer groups recommend carrying liability insurance of $100,000 per person injured and $300,000 per accident. If you have a new car, you will likely want collision and/or comprehensive insurance. (If you have a loan on the car, your lender will probably require it.) Because New Mexico has so many uninsured motorists, you may also want to consider purchasing uninsured motorist insurance, which will cover you in case you are hit by an uninsured driver.

What Percentage of Drivers in
New Mexico Lack Vehicle Insurance?
21.6% National Average: 12.6 %

New Mexico’s High-Risk Insurance

The New Mexico Motor Vehicle Insurance Plan was established to provide auto insurance to drivers who cannot get coverage through the private insurance market because they are deemed a high risk. New Mexico is a member of the Western Association of Automobile Insurance Plans (WAAIP), which puts high-risk drivers in touch with an insurance company that can insure them.

Car Insurance and Special Groups

Teen Drivers in New Mexico

Approximately 5,000 teenage drivers in the state are killed or injured in traffic accidents each year, reports the New Mexico Department of Transportation. To that end, the state’s Graduated Driver License program slowly introduces teenage drivers to safe driving.

When your teen begins to drive, notify your insurance company. Typically, insurance companies do not charge for teenagers driving with a learners permit. When your teen earns her license, you’ll have to add her to the family policy. In most cases, adding a teenager to a family policy is much cheaper than purchasing a separate policy. You can also save if your student hits the books. In New Mexico, many insurance companies offer a “good student” discount of up to 25 percent on auto insurance policies, according to the Independent Insurance Agents of New Mexico.

New Mexico Car Insurance: The Impact of a Teen Driver

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

$1,993 increase This is a difference of 147%.
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

$625

Speedometer
Female teen

$561

Check Out Discounts for Teens in New Mexico

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

$268 saved

Compare Premiums from New Mexico Insurance Providers

Shop around for the best and most affordable policy. Check out the annual average premiums, for example, for a married couple with a 16-year-old teen driver in New Mexico:

Insurance Provider Min MEDIAN MAX
Farmers $982 $1,514 $5,227
State Farm $1,582 $3,185 $6,204
Progressive $1,756 $3,468 $6,980
GEICO $1,981 $3,544 $7,541
Allstate $2,894 $5,218 $10,257

How Car Choice Affects New Mexico Premiums

Insurers consider sports cars a more risky choice for teens than sedans and minivans, so their premium rates are higher.

Average premium for two 2014
Mustang GTs

$4,420

Average premium for two 2008
Town and Country Limiteds

$2,839

Annual benefit of minivans:

$1,581 saved This is 36% less expensive.
Premium Comparison for Two Adults + 16 Year Old
25th - 75th Percentile Median

College Students in New Mexico

When your child goes off to college, notify your insurer right away. If she is moving away from home and won’t be taking a car, you should be able to save some money on your premiums.

If you’re a student heading to school in another state, you must also submit an Affidavit of Non-Use/Out of State insurance form to the IIDB. You will be asked to provide proof that you reside out of state, as well as proof of insurance from an out-of-state provider.

If you’re moving to the state for college, the New Mexico Motor Vehicle Division will let you keep your out-of-state insurance, as long as it meets the state’s minimum liability requirements.

New Mexico Teen Drivers vs. College Age Students

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

$840 decrease This is a decrease of 24%.
Comparison of Premium Ranges
25th - 75th Percentile Median

How Annual Premiums Compare for New Mexico Insurers

Each year, review your policy before it renews to see whether you could get a better rate. Here are the average premiums for a married couple with a 19-year-old college student in New Mexico.

Provider Min MEDIAN MAX
Farmers $982 $1,433 $2,354
State Farm $1,001 $2,038 $4,195
Progressive $1,368 $2,488 $4,984
GEICO $1,097 $2,398 $6,165
Allstate $2,431 $4,335 $8,010

Distance Discount: Savings for New Mexico College Drivers

You may see a break in your family’s premium (but only a small one) if your student lives 150+ miles away from home.

Average premium for a 19-year-old male
  • $3,087 at home
  • $2,490 at school
  • $597 in savings
Average premium for a 19-year-old female
  • $2,670 at home
  • $2,264 at school
  • $406 in savings

How Car Choice Affects Premiums in New Mexico

If your college student drives a minivan or sedan, your premium will be much lower than if he or she drives a sports car.

2014 Mustang GTs (2)

$3,343

2008 Town and Country Limited minivans (2)

$2,101

Annual benefit of minivans

$1,242 saved This is 37% less expensive.
Premium Comparison for Two Adults + College Driver
25th - 75th Percentile Median

Military Drivers in New Mexico

New Mexico has about 13,000 active-duty military personnel living in the state and more than 171,000 veterans. If you’re stationed in New Mexico or call it home while away on military duty, insurance companies in the Land of Enchantment, as the state is known, offer discounts for military members and veterans.. For the best price comparison, get at least three quotes from companies licensed to sell insurance in New Mexico.

If you’re from out of state serving in New Mexico, you can choose either to drive a vehicle legally registered in your home state, or change over registration to New Mexico. You can save 5 percent just by registering online. Disabled veterans get a 50 percent reduction in the cost of their vehicle plates upon showing proof of insurance and disability status

New Mexico also has a Heroes to Highways program that helps veterans transition from active duty to civilian jobs requiring a commercial driver’s license by allowing them to substitute two years of driving heavy military vehicles for the commercial driver’s license skills test. You will still need to take the knowledge portion of the test.

New Mexico 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 impact on your premium than a recent model sports car.

Military Drivers: How Premium Ranges Differ by Driver Age and Vehicle
25-Year-Old Driver
50-Year-Old Driver
25th - 75th Percentile Median

Age-Based Savings for New Mexico
Service Members

Median auto insurance
for service members:

$998
Male (25 yrs)$1,273
Male (50 yrs)$1,018
$255 savings
Female (25 yrs)$1,228
Female (50 yrs)$1,014
$214 savings

Compare Average Premiums Available to New Mexico Military Personnel

When you're looking for the best auto insurance, it pays to do some comparison shopping. Check out the average annual rates you can get in New Mexico.

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

Seniors in New Mexico

If you are 55 or older and successfully complete a driver safety course, New Mexico law requires that your insurance company give you a three-year discount on your premium. The course must be approved by the state, and you can find out which ones are by calling the Traffic Safety Bureau at 1-800-541-7952.

Once you hit age 75 you will need to renew your driver’s license every year, but you won’t have to pay the renewal fee.

Undocumented Workers in New Mexico

Since 2003, New Mexico has allowed residents to get a driver’s license using a tax identification number instead of a social security number, regardless of immigration status.

This has made it possible for thousands more drivers to get a license and car insurance. The state’s lawmakers are now debating changing to a two-tier driver’s license system: an official federally-sanctioned driver’s license for legal residents and a driver’s permit (that could not be used as official identification outside the state) for everyone else.

Ridesharing Insurance in New Mexico: Are You Covered?

In February 2016, the New Mexico legislature passed a law governing the operation of transportation network companies (TNCs, like Uber and Lyft).

The law sets minimum insurance requirements that can be met by the driver, the company or a combination of the two. If you are logged into the app but don’t have a passenger, you must have $50,000 per person and $100,000 per accident in bodily injury liability and $25,000 for physical damage liability. If you have a passenger, you must have $1 million liability insurance for death, bodily injury and property damage.

If you’re a ridesharing driver:

Be sure to verify that the TNC offers sufficient coverage for your vehicle, since most personal insurance policies will not cover you if you are driving for a business. If you have to get the insurance yourself, you will probably need a commercial policy.

In May 2015 Lyft stopped providing service in New Mexico, complaining of the state’s “onerous” regulations. The new law may pave the way for the company’s return.

Car Accidents: How to File a Claim in New Mexico

If you are involved in an accident that caused an injury, death or property damage worth more than $500, you must notify the New Mexico Motor Vehicle Department. Here are the steps to take:

  • Immediately report the accident to the local police, sheriff or state police. Exchange insurance information with the other driver(s), get witnesses’ phone numbers and email and jot down what happened and/or take photos at the scene.
  • File a written report with the New Mexico Department of Transportation within five days of the accident.
  • Notify your insurance company as soon as possible and your agent can help you file a claim.

Best and Worst States for Driver Safety: How Does New Mexico Rank?

New Mexico ranks 35th in terms of road fatalities, according to federal traffic data. Its rate of drunk-driving fatalities is far higher than the national average, but it is improving.

“The biggest threat to driver safety in New Mexico is distracted driving, followed by driving while intoxicated,” says Matt Kennicott, spokesman for the state’s Department of Transportation. “We’ve seen a drop in DWI fatalities over the course of the last year, where we saw the lowest number of alcohol-related fatalities in the last 15 years. A big part of that has to do with our awareness campaign.” State police in New Mexico, he says, “have DWI super blitzes – periods of time centered typically around holidays where there are large saturation patrols and DWI checkpoints. The state is also at a 36-year-low for overall traffic fatalities.”

New Mexico Driver Safety Ranking

40th 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 93 3.71 40th
Speeding-Related Fatalities 122 4.86 45th
Passenger Vehicle Unrestrained Fatalities 96 3.83 31st
Unhelmeted Motorcycle Fatalities 20 0.80 33rd
Multiple Vehicle Fatalities 117 4.66 28th
Pedestrian Fatalities 49 2.35 48th
Bicyclist Fatalities 4 0.19 31st
Total Vehicle Fatalities 310 12.36 35th

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

New Mexico: Protecting You from Injury on the Road

Advocates for Highway and Road Safety gives New Mexico a yellow “caution” ranking for its traffic laws, urging it to adopt stronger protections for teen drivers. Among things, the state has launched a campaign to reduce distracted driving. “The campaign is called ‘Don’t Text,’ but it’s not just about texting and driving,” says Kennicott. “It takes in all forms of distracted driving, whether that’s talking on a cell phone or fiddling with the radio. It’s vital that drivers pay attention to the road and what they’re doing with the vehicle.”

Driving Safety Laws – New Mexico

  Requirement New Mexico Law Details
Mandatory seatbelts For the driver and all passengers.
Child passenger safety Child seat up through age 4 (or 40 pounds); booster seat through age 6 (or 60 pounds).
Driving under the influence (DUI) First offense – $500 fine, up to 90 days in jail, mandatory drug and alcohol rehab and driving suspension. Penalties increase upon subsequent convictions.
Ignition interlock after DUI Mandatory for all DUI convictions.
Talking on cell or texting while driving (texting only) Texting prohibited for all drivers. No cell phone use for learners or those with a provisional license.
Protections for young drivers During intermediate stage, no more than one passenger under age 21 (except family) and no driving midnight to 5 a.m.
Motorcycle helmet law Partial Required only for those under age 18 (universal law repealed in 1977).
Bicycle helmet law Partial Required only for those under age 18.

Source: Governors Highway Safety Association, 2016

Car Insurance Resources for New Mexico Residents

Motor Vehicles Division

Resource for licensing, registration and insurance requirements.

Department of Transportation

The Traffic Safety Division has tips on staying safe on New Mexico roads.

Office of Superintendent of Insurance

You can find information and file a complaint with the Consumer Assistance Bureau.

Premium Comparison Guide

The Office of the Superintendent of Insurance offers a rate comparison tool for consumers.

Department of Public Safety

Seeks to improve safety on the state’s roadways, reducing traffic accidents and injuries.

Updated: July 29, 2017