From Highway 1 on the Pacific coast to the wide-open Eastern plains, Oregon boasts some of the most scenic drives in the country. The state's motto - "She flies with her own wings" - celebrates individuality and responsibility. Fittingly, the state has a one-of-a-kind car insurance system that requires not only liability insurance but also personal injury protection and uninsured motorist coverage to protect everyone on the road.
What Oregon Requires for Vehicle Insurance
Oregon requires all drivers to carry car insurance. Your insurance premium will likely be calculated based on your driving record, the make and model of your car, and your insurance history.
Oregon law also allows insurers to consider your credit rating (among other things) when writing a new policy, but they cannot use credit information to raise premiums or cancel existing policies.
If you can't get access to market-rate insurance because of your age or driving record, you can apply for coverage through the Automobile Insurance Plan of Oregon, which is part of the Western Association of Automobile Insurance Plans (WAAIP). However, Oregon has such a competitive auto insurance market that the risk pool is virtually unused, according to Ron Fredrickson at the Oregon Department of Consumer & Business Services. "We have 130 active insurers in the personal insurance market," he says, "so there are lots of options."
If you don't drive a lot, you may be able to save money by purchasing a "pay as you go" plan. Oregon provides tax credits to insurance companies that offer these plans in an effort to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, traffic congestion, and traffic accidents. Since most of these plans calculate your rate based on how many miles you drive and/or the time of day you drive, you will probably need to plug a data-logging device (DLD) into your car to monitor your driving habits.
Cece Newell, policy analyst with the Oregon Department of Consumer and Business Services, recommends you do your homework when choosing an insurance company. "You can visit our website and compare every company that's licensed to do business in Oregon, including how many complaints have been filed against them," she says.
Despite stiff penalties for driving without insurance in Oregon, the Department of Transportation estimates about 6.5 percent of cars involved in accidents in 2013 were uninsured. Since this figure only reflects accidents, the actual rate of uninsured drivers could be higher.
Proof of Insurance
You need to be able to show proof of insurance anytime you are in the car. This can be on paper or on your smart phone. If you can't show proof of insurance when asked by a police officer, you may receive a citation. If you're lucky, the police officer may verify your insurance through the Law Enforcement Data System and let you off with a warning.
Minimum Insurance Requirements in Oregon
At a minimum, every vehicle on the road must be covered by:
- Liability insurance (to protect injury or damage you may cause to others in an accident): $25,000 per person/$50,000 per crash for bodily injury to others; and $20,000 per crash for damage to others property
- Personal injury protection (to cover your medical expenses up to one year after a crash): $15,000 per person
- Uninsured motorist (to protect you in the event the other person isn't insured): $25,000 per person/$50,000 per crash for bodily injury
This is just the minimum required by law. If you have significant assets, insurance experts recommend getting much higher liability coverage. (See below "How Much Insurance Do I Need?" for details).
What Happens If You Drive Without Car Insurance in Oregon?
Oregon takes insurance seriously, but its laws are not as punitive as those in some states. If you are caught driving without it, authorities may fine you $427, tow your vehicle, and suspend your license.
If you are convicted of driving without insurance, you have to keep a "proof of future responsibility" certificate (SR-22) on file with the DMV for three years. An insurance company must issue the SR-22 to certify that you have the legally required insurance and file it with the DMV, so it is linked to your driving record. If you don't file the SR-22, your license will be suspended.
If you get in an accident while driving an uninsured car, you will lose your license for a year. After that, you'll have to file the "proof of future responsibility" with the DMV for three years if you want to keep your license.
The Oregon DMV conducts spot checks on vehicle owners each month to verify insurance coverage. If you receive one of these notices, you must provide your insurance company's name and policy number to the DMV, and the DMV will verify it with the company. If you don't respond, your license will be suspended.
How Much Vehicle Insurance Do You Need in Oregon?
According to the Insurance Information Institute, insurance experts and consumer advocates generally recommend carrying liability coverage of $100,000 per person and $300,000 per accident.
Oregon Lack Vehicle Insurance? 9.0% National Average: 12.6 %
Depending on the value of your car and your assets, you may want to consider additional types of insurance. If you have a relatively new car, you may want to purchase collision insurance (which covers damage to your car in the event of a collision) and comprehensive insurance (which covers damage to your car as a result of other events, like fire, theft, or a natural disaster).
On the other hand, if your car is worth less than your deductible and a couple years' worth of premiums, collision and comprehensive insurance may not be worth it.
Teen Drivers in Oregon
Adding your teenage child to your car insurance policy in Oregon (or anywhere) can be expensive. Federal statistics show teens are almost three times more likely to have a fatal crash, so insurers charge more to cover them.
Teens are also more likely to get DUIs for drinking and driving and to drive while distracted. To protect your child and help keep your insurance rates down, have a frank talk about distracted or drunk driving. Look into apps to prevent them from using a cell phone while driving. Your teen can also get a discount on his premium if he enrolls in a state-certified driver's ed course. According to a study by the state of Oregon, teens in the state who took an approved driver education course had:
- A crash rate that was 11 to 21 percent lower
- Traffic conviction rates that were 39 to 57 percent lower
- Driver license suspension rates that were 51 to 53 percent lower
The Oregon Department of Transportation offers The Oregon Parent Guide to Teen Driving. You may also want to ask your insurance company about an "accident forgiveness" clause that guarantees premiums will not increase after one minor accident.
Finally, even if your teen owns her own car, you may want to consider insuring her on your policy to save money on premiums.
And if you're a teen driver, you can keep rates down if you:
- 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 your grades. Some insurance companies offer Good Student Discounts.
- "Take a driver's training course," says Fredrickson. "This can help reduce the premium. (The course should be state-certified.)
- Only drive the family's oldest, least expensive car. Avoid driving convertibles, sports cars and SUVs - they are usually much more expensive to insure. According to the Oregon DMV, "Mid- to full-size sedans and station wagons with smaller engines and airbags are safest for teen drivers" - and you'll get a break on your premium as well.
- Don't drive if you've had any alcohol or text while driving.
How a Teen Driver Affects Your Oregon Car Insurance
Median annual price change for families with a teen driver on their policy:$2,164 increase This is a difference of 136%.
Average annual premium increase if a teen gets a speeding ticket while driving 11-15 mph over the speed limit:
Do Teens Save on Premiums in Oregon?
Impact on annual premium with Good Student and Defensive Driving discounts:$361 saved
Compare Premiums of Oregon Providers
Policy costs vary a lot, so shop around. Compare the annual average premiums, for example, for a married couple with a 16-year-old teen driver in Oregon:
Check Out How Car Choice Affects Oregon Auto Insurance Premiums
The make and model of the car you choose for your teen can have an enormous impact on your annual premium.
Average premium for two 2014
Average premium for two 2008
Town and Country Limiteds
Annual benefit of minivans:
College Students in Oregon
If your children go to a nearby college and still live at home, they will automatically be insured because all residents of your household are. But if they are 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 more than 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 Oregon
Median annual premium change with a college student vs. high school driver$1,062 decrease This is a decrease of 26%.
How a College Student Affects Your Oregon Premiums
Each year, take a look at your policy before it renews to see whether you could get a better deal. Here are the average premiums for a married couple with a 19-year-old college student in Oregon.
Distance Discount for Oregon College Students
You may see a slight break in your family's premium if your student lives 150+ miles away from home.
Average premium for a 19-year-old male
- $3,562 at home
- $3,198 at school
- $364 in savings
Average premium for a 19-year-old female
- $3,237 at home
- $2,962 at school
- $275 in savings
Will Your Car Choice Affect Your Premium in Oregon?
Your college student driving a minivan will result in a lower premium than if he or she drives a sports car.
2014 Mustang GTs (2)$3,887
2008 Town and Country Limited minivans (2)$2,770
Annual benefit of minivans
Military Drivers in Oregon
More than 331,000 veterans and 1,462 active duty military personnel live in Oregon. If you are stationed out of Oregon temporarily on active military duty and need a replacement license or a renewal, you can apply for a Valid-With-Previous-Photo (VWPP) license, as long as your photo on file with the DMV isn't over 9 years and 2 months old. This allows you to apply for a replacement/renewal license through the mail without having to appear at the DMV. You can get a motorcycle endorsement the same way.
When purchasing auto insurance, be sure to mention your military service and ask if there are any discounts available. If you are stationed out of state or out of the country and won't need auto insurance, ask your insurance agent about suspending it for the duration of your deployment. Be clear about the reason for the suspension. Some insurers charge people more for insurance if they have a lapse in coverage, but Oregon law does not allow them to do this if you have a legitimate reason for the lapse.
Oregon Service Members:
How Vehicle Choice Affects Your Premium
Rollover crashes are more common among SUVs and pickups, but our research shows an older model SUV still has less impact on your premium than a recent model sports car.
Military Drivers: How Premium Ranges Change by Driver Age and Vehicle
Age Savings for Oregon
Median auto insurance
for service members:
Compare Average Premiums Available to Oregon Military Personnel
When you're looking for the best value for your dollar, it pays to do some comparison shopping. Check out the average annual rates you can get in Oregon.
Seniors in Oregon
Oregon encourages seniors to keep on top of their driving skills by taking a safety or defensive driving courses. "We require companies to offer a discount to drivers over age 55 who complete a safety course," says Fredrickson. You can even take the course online at home and save up to 15 percent on your premium.
Undocumented Workers in Oregon
Undocumented immigrants are not allowed to get driver's licenses in Oregon. And since most companies only sell coverage to licensed drivers, that means they can't buy insurance either.
In 2013 the Oregon legislature passed a law that would have allowed undocumented immigrants to get driver's licenses, but a ballot initiative the following year repealed the law before it took effect.
The state does issue "limited term" driver's licenses to foreigners who have temporary authorization to live in the country (for example, foreign exchange students). Also, if you are authorized to be in the country under the federal Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, you can receive a temporary license. It is valid for up to eight years, as long as you are legally authorized to be in the country.
Ridesharing Insurance: Are You Covered?If you're a ridesharing passenger
If you are a passenger who uses ridesharing companies in Oregon, your individual car insurance will not cover you in an accident. The state of Oregon recommends that before you call a ridesharing service, find out whether the company has a policy that will cover your expenses in the event of an injury. The state also recommends talking with your insurance agent before using the service.
If you drive for Uber, Lyft, Sidecar or another rideshare company, the state of Oregon recommends that you contact your insurance agent to make sure you're covered in the event of an accident. Don't rely on your personal car insurance to cover you in an accident: it probably won't. These transportation networking companies (TNCs) may or may not have an insurance program that covers you and your passengers if you get in an accident. Some cities like Portland have enacted laws requiring TNCs to carry liability insurance for passengers and drivers, but there are no such state-wide laws. Also, even in Portland the TNC doesn't have to cover collision insurance for the driver.
Car Accidents in Oregon: How to File a Claim
If you are in an accident in Oregon, you must file a Traffic Accident and Insurance Report with the DMV within 72 hours if:
- There is more than $1,500 in damage to your vehicle (even if yours is the only car in the accident)
- There is more than $1,500 in damage to any vehicle and a vehicle has to be towed
- Someone is injured or dies
- There is non-vehicle property damage over $1,500
In any of these situations, it is against the law to make arrangements with the other driver to settle the damage without filing a report. Even if the police file a report, you still need to report the accident to the DMV, including information about your insurance carrier and policy number.
Oregon 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||103||3.06||20th|
|Passenger Vehicle Unrestrained Fatalities||54||1.60||6th|
|Unhelmeted Motorcycle Fatalities||2||0.06||8th|
|Multiple Vehicle Fatalities||127||3.77||16th|
|Total Vehicle Fatalities||313||9.29||15th|
Sources: National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, Insurance Institute for Highway Safety
Oregon: Protecting You from Injury on the Road
Oregon has a good traffic safety record, ranking 36th out of 50 states in terms of fatalities per 100 million vehicle miles traveled. It also had the highest rate of seat belt use (98.2 percent) among all states in 2013.
Driving Safety Laws in Oregon
|Mandatory seat belts||For driver and all passengers.|
|Child passenger safety||Rear-facing infant seat until age 1 and 20 lbs; child seat until 40 lbs; booster seat until age 8 or 4'9" in height.|
|Driving under the influence (DUI)||1st DUI conviction - one year suspension. Diversion programs available for 1st conviction.|
|Ignition interlock after DUI||Required for one year after DUI license suspension.|
|Talking on cell or texting while driving||Banned for all handheld devices. $500 fine.|
|Protections for young drivers||Graduated license requirements. No passengers under 20 (except immediate family) for the first six months; limits on number of teenage passengers for next six months; restricted driving times (no driving midnight to 5 a.m.) for first year, or until age 18, whichever comes first. No use of mobile devices (including hands-free) while driving until age 18.|
|Motorcycle helmet law||Universal requirement.|
|Bicycle helmet law||Partial||Required for those under 18.|
Car Insurance Resources for Oregon Residents
Access information on insurance, registration and licensing requirements.
Oregon's largest consumer protection agency provides insurance information and resources.
Provides information about state traffic laws and crash statistics.
If you are unable to get market-rate insurance because of your driving record or claims history, AIPSO can put you in a high-risk pool.
If you've had an accident and need auto repairs, get tips here on avoiding scams and ensuring good service.
Find statistics on automobile-related crimes in Oregon.