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Arizona Car Insurance Laws & State Minimum Coverage Limits

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Eric Stauffer is a former insurance agent and banker turned consumer advocate. His priority is to help educate individuals and families about the different types of insurance they need, and assist them in finding the best...

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UPDATED: Feb 14, 2018

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Arizona State FlagIn Arizona all drivers must comply with financial responsibility laws that require a minimum amount of liability insurance. These legal minimums are designed to protect everyone on the road from both the financial risks of being held responsible for an accident and the risk of being struck by a negligent driver who can’t pay for the damages.

Mandatory Coverage

In Arizona, a basic amount of liability coverage is required, usually in the form of an auto insurance policy. This coverage pays for injuries and damages for which you may be held responsible after an accident in which you are at fault. Without enough liability insurance, negligent drivers can be sued for damages. Arizona requires that auto insurance policies meet at least these minimums:

  • Bodily Injury Liability in the amount of at least $15,000 for injuries or death of any one person in an accident, and $30,000 for injuries or death of more than one person in any single accident.
  • Property Damage Liability in the amount of $10,000 to pay for any damage done to another person’s vehicle or any other property as the result of an accident.

Arizona drivers also have the option of using a certificate of deposit in the amount of $40,000 to replace the requirement for auto insurance. This certificate must be assigned to the Arizona State Treasurer.

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Optional Coverage

Arizona’s minimum liability coverage is relatively low and unlikely to provide enough coverage in the event of a serious accident. As a result, the most common option chosen by Arizona drivers is an increase in liability limits. Higher limits provide greater financial protection from lawsuits after an accident.

There are several other options available for auto insurance policies in Arizona. These coverage options are designed to protect you from a variety of other risks and costs associated with collisions and other losses.

  • Collision Coverage – This coverage will pay for damage to your vehicle in the event that you are involved in an at-fault accident. When you are at fault in an accident, your liability coverage pays only for the damage to the other person’s vehicle. Without collision coverage, you will be responsible for repairing damage to your own vehicle out of your pocket. This coverage also applies to single-vehicle collisions. Collision coverage generally has a deductible that must be paid prior to receiving benefits.
  • Comprehensive Coverage – This coverage is designed to protect you from the many risks to your vehicle that do not involve a collision. Among the covered losses are theft, vandalism, storm damage, and fire damage. This coverage also has a deductible in most cases.
  • Uninsured/Underinsured Motorist – Drivers can select this optional coverage to protect from the risk of an accident with another driver who is either uninsured or does not have enough coverage to pay for the entire loss. This coverage usually has limits matching the liability limits on the policy and will pay for bodily injury and property damage after an accident where the other driver was at fault but does not have sufficient coverage.
  • Medical Payments – This additional coverage will pay for medical expenses related to an accident that are not otherwise covered. This coverage applies to you and any passenger in your car.
  • Full Glass Coverage – This option will pay for repair or replacement of auto glass as the result of a rock chip, crack, or other glass-only claims.

Proof of Insurance Requirements

Arizona law requires all drivers to present proof of insurance to law enforcement during a traffic stop, when you register your car in AZ, or at the scene of an accident. Failure to do so can result in a citation at the scene, and further penalties include suspension of the vehicle registration, fines, and even driver’s license suspension.

All insurance companies in Arizona report new policy information to the Motor Vehicle Division, and it is kept on file with vehicle registration information. Insurance companies will also notify the MVD of any policy cancellation. If your policy is canceled for any reason, you will receive a request for proof of a new insurance policy. Failure to comply with the request will result in suspension of the vehicle’s registration and plates, as well as further penalties.

There is a $50 fee on top of any fines and other penalties to reinstate the registration after it has been suspended for lack of insurance.

Additionally, drivers who are caught uninsured will be required to file an SR-22, which is a proof of financial responsibility form provided by the insurance company that carries the policy. SR-22 insurance can be more expensive and, in most cases, must remain on file for three years from the date of the suspension. A suspended driver’s license or registration will not be reinstated without the SR-22. If at any point your insurance lapses again, the company will inform MVD and you will face further penalties.

Drivers who are involved in an accident without insurance will not only face all of the uninsured motorist penalties, but may be held legally responsible for all costs associated with the accident, including injuries, property damage, and pain and suffering.

Shopping for Car Insurance in Arizona

According to a 2017 Insure.com study of average insurance rates, Arizona ranks at number 19 based on sample rates, with an annual average premium of $1348.

Arizona drivers have a lot of options for car insurance that can help to keep rates affordable. While the basic level of minimum coverage means a low car insurance rate, it can also result in major financial trouble in the event of a serious accident.

The Arizona Department of Insurance provides advice and assistance with selecting an auto insurance policy on their website, including rate and complaint comparisons for Arizona insurance companies.

Arizona law permits the use of credit information by insurance companies when determining rates. Your credit score can affect how much you pay, along with your driving record, the type of car, commuting information, and where you live. Keeping a clean driving record is the single best thing Arizona drivers can do to keep low rates.

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High Risk Drivers

High-risk drivers pay some of the highest rates for auto insurance due to problematic driving records that make them a risk for insurance companies to cover. Drivers with multiple tickets and accidents, major violations, and other serious driving record issues may find it very difficult to obtain car insurance.

Like most states, Arizona offers a high-risk driver plan that assists those who are unable to get insurance on the open market. The Arizona Automobile Insurance Plan assigns high-risk drivers to an insurance company, which is required to provide them with a policy. This insurance is very expensive, and is a last resort for drivers who have failed to obtain coverage elsewhere.

Teen Drivers in Arizona

Teens under the age of 18 are subject to Arizona’s graduated license system, which is designed to prepare teens for safe driving by easing them into the responsibility. There are three stages to the program.

Instruction Permit

At 15 years and 6 months of age, Arizona teens can apply for an instruction permit, which requires that they pass a written test and vision screening. This permit allows the teen to begin practicing behind the wheel, but only when a supervising driver over the age of 21 is in the passenger seat. During the instruction permit period, the teen must complete:

  • A state-approved driver education course, or;
  • 30 hours of practice driving with 10 of those hours at night

Graduated License (G)

At 16 years old, after at least 6 months with a permit and having met one of the two requirement options, a teen can take the road test to obtain a restricted license. With this license, teens can drive unsupervised, but must follow these rules for the first 6 months:

  • Driving is not permitted between the hours of midnight and 5 a.m., except for specific school, work, or religious activities, or if a parent or guardian with a license is in the passenger seat
  • No more than one passenger under the age of 18 can be in the vehicle, unless they are a sibling or a parent or guardian with a full license is in the passenger seat

Full License (D)

At the age of 18, as long as the driver has maintained a clean record, the teen can apply for the full Class D license.

Teens in Arizona are subject to financial responsibility laws with either a G or D license. Parents or guardians are required to ensure that the teen driver is covered under an appropriate insurance policy. In most cases, a teen driver can be covered on the parent or guardian policy for as long as they are resident of the home, including when away at school.

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Review Information

About Eric Stauffer

Author: Eric StaufferI am a former insurance agent and banker turned consumer advocate. My priority is to help educate individuals and families about the different types of insurance they need, and assist them in finding the best place to get it.

6 Comments

  1. My son was involved in a fender bender on school property, which he was at fault. We decided not to go through insurance and I would pay for the repairs. She is insisting on going through an “old friend” that does body work on the side otherwise she will file a claim with the insurance. So here is my question, if she files a claim with insurance does my insurance have to pay or can I still pay it out of pocket?

    Reply
    • Hi Christian,

      When I see people handle things outside of insurance, the non-fault party typically goes and gets an estimate from a repair shop and the at-fault party simply hands them some cash or writes them a check. An insurance company usually does the same thing. They will often just cut a check for the damage amount, and the non-fault party can do whatever they want with the money.

      I guess I am confused why it matters where they want to get the body work done.

      Best,
      Eric Stauffer

      Reply
  2. Do you have any advice on dealing with an insurance companies adjuster on a fair settlement for property and medical claim? we are not at fault in this accident.

    Reply
    • Hi James,

      It is important to remember that an insurance company adjuster is not necessarily on your side. They are trying to meet their legal obligations, while minimizing the loss for the insurance company. If the damage is severe enough, it may warrant hiring an attorney to help negotiate with the adjuster.

      Best,
      Eric Stauffer

      Reply
  3. If a claim after an accident exceeds the policy coverage, who pays in Arizona?

    Reply
    • Hi David,

      The adjusters will ultimately decide who the at-fault party was (it can be split as a percentage, as well). When an at-fault party’s liability coverage is exhausted, they can become liable for the remainder.

      It can get a little complicated when the not-at-fault party has underinsurance coverage, because their company will pick up the tab for the difference. However, they will generally come after the at-fault party for the remainder if that person has any assets that can be used to pay it back.

      The bottom line is, its much cheaper in the long run to buy more coverage that the state minimums. The state minimums are grossly inadequate in any accident above a minor one.

      Best,
      Eric Stauffer

      Reply

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