In 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.
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.
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 claim.
Proof of Insurance Requirements
Arizona law requires all drivers to present proof of insurance to law enforcement during a traffic stop 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 cancelled 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 must remain on file for three years from the date of the suspension. A suspended driver’s license or registration won’t 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 2015 Insure.com study of average insurance rates, Arizona falls below the national average and ranks at number 37 based on sample rates.
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.
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 can’t 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.
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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