Drivers in Arkansas are required to carry a minimum amount of liability insurance in order to protect all drivers from the high cost of car accidents. This financial responsibility law protects both the injured party in an accident and the driver who is at fault, helping to pay for damage and injuries.
Mandatory Insurance Coverage
By law, all drivers must carry liability insurance that meets the following basic minimum limits:
- Bodily Injury coverage at $25,000 per person and $50,000 per incident for all injured parties in the same accident
- Property Damage coverage in the amount of $25,000 to pay for damage to another person’s vehicle or any other property as a result of a car accident
Liability insurance is designed to help the driver who is at fault to pay for the damages caused to another person as a result of their actions. Making it mandatory helps to prevent lawsuits and to ensure that those injured in an accident are not left paying their own damages as a result of negligence.
Because car accident costs frequently exceed these minimum limits, many drivers choose to purchase higher liability limits. This is optional but provides additional financial security. There are also several other options available to Arkansas drivers.
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Optional Insurance Coverage
Arkansas drivers can expand their protection by adding several available coverage options to the basic liability policy. These options provide financial assistance for a variety of auto-related incidents.
- Uninsured/Underinsured Motorist – While this coverage is not legally required, the law in Arkansas states that car insurance companies must offer it to drivers at limits that match the liability limits on the policy and drivers must refuse it in writing. This coverage helps to pay for damages done by another driver who is either uninsured or whose insurance is not adequate to cover all of the damage done.
- Collision – This coverage pays for the damage done to your vehicle in the event of an accident in which you are at fault, or a hit-and-run accident where the responsible driver cannot be held accountable. This coverage generally has a deductible attached.
- Comprehensive – This coverage is designed to pay for damages or losses that occur as a result of non-collision events. This includes things like theft, vandalism, weather damage, and fire. This coverage often includes glass-only repairs and also has a deductible.
- Personal Injury Protection – While this coverage is not mandatory, like uninsured motorist coverage you must refuse it in writing if you choose not to carry it. This coverage includes things like medical payments, lost wages, and death benefits, regardless of who is at fault in an accident.
Auto insurance companies may also offer a range of other coverage options and add-ons to create a comprehensive policy. These can include things like roadside assistance, rental car reimbursement, and more.
Proof of Insurance and the Law
Arkansas drivers are required to carry and present proof of insurance to law enforcement upon request during a traffic stop or at the scene of an accident. If you do have insurance but are unable to present proof, you will be subject to a $25 fine. If you do not have insurance and are caught driving, you will face stiffer penalties:
- $50 to $250 fine for the first offense
- $250 to $500 fine for the second offense
- Up to $1000 fine for subsequent offenses
- Suspension of driving privileges
- Confiscation of plates until insurance is provided
- Possible jail time for multiple offenses
Arkansas uses an electronic verification system through which insurance companies report policy information to the state. Law enforcement can access this information during a routine traffic stop, but drivers must still carry and produce proof of insurance. Cancellations and lapses in coverage are reported to the state, and drivers will be required to provide proof of a new insurance policy.
Shopping for Car Insurance in Arkansas
Arkansas drivers pay insurance rates that are above the national average, according to a 2017 Insure.com study comparing rates across the country. Arkansas rates ranked at number 14 with an average yearly premium of $1409, compared with the national average of $1318.
The Arkansas Insurance Department offers drivers assistance with choosing car insurance, with information regarding complaint records for insurance companies as well as tips on purchasing the right insurance. There is also an insurance rate comparison tool to assist with finding the best price for your auto policy.
Drivers with problems on their driving record such as major violations or multiple tickets and accidents may be considered to be high-risk drivers. These drivers face the highest insurance rates as a result, and may even be turned down for coverage if they do not meet the insurance company’s standards.
High-risk drivers who have been refused coverage can obtain insurance using the state’s assigned risk insurance program. The Arkansas Automobile Insurance Plan assigns drivers who apply to an insurance company, which must then provide a policy. This allows risk to be spread across multiple insurers. These policies are still very expensive, so drivers are urged to keep a clean driving record in order to reduce rates.
Teen Drivers in Arkansas
Arkansas has a Graduated Licensing Program for teen drivers that allows teens to develop driving skills over time while graduating through the levels of the program. Each stage has particular requirements and restrictions.
At 14 years old, Arkansas teens can apply for a learner’s permit. In order to qualify, the teen must:
- Be enrolled in school
- Have their parents’ permission
- Pass a written knowledge test
With this license, teens can drive only when supervised by an approved driver 21 or older who is in the passenger seat, and must not use a mobile device while driving, unless it is for an emergency.
Arkansas has a provision for teens 14 and over to drive unsupervised when they can prove a hardship that requires it. With this license, unsupervised driving is permitted with these restrictions:
- Driving between 11 p.m. and 4 a.m. is prohibited unless accompanied by a supervising driver 21 or older or for an approved school, work, or religious activity
- Cell phone use is prohibited
- No passengers under the age of 21 are permitted, except for family members or if a driver over the age of 21 is in the passenger seat
At the age of 16, teen drivers may apply for an intermediate license. In order to obtain this license, the teen must hold a learner’s permit for 6 months and pass a road test.
With this license, unsupervised driving is permitted only after the first 6 months. For the first 6 months, a licensed driver over the age of 21 must be in the passenger seat. After the first six months, unsupervised driving is permitted within the following restrictions:
- Driving between 11 p.m. and 4 a.m. is not permitted unless there is a driver over 21 in the passenger seat or on an approved school, work, or religious activity
- No more than one passenger under the age of 21 who is not a family member can be in the vehicle unless there is a supervising driver over 21 in the passenger seat
- Cell phone use is prohibited, including a wireless device, unless it is an emergency
At 18, teen drivers can graduate to a full, unrestricted license. The graduated licensing law does not apply to any teen 16 and over who is married or legally considered to be no longer a minor; teens in this situation may graduate to the full license at 16.
All teen drivers are required to carry the legal minimum for car insurance as soon as they obtain a license. For most teens, this is accomplished by adding the driver to a parent or guardian’s existing policy. Most insurance companies will allow the teen to remain insured even when away at school until they establish their own permanent residence.
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