Idaho’s financial responsibility law requires that all drivers carry a minimum amount of liability insurance to cover the costs of a car accident. This law protects drivers from injuries and damages caused by another person, or from possible lawsuits for negligence.
In Idaho, drivers must carry liability insurance that meets state minimums:
- Bodily Injury coverage in the amount of $25,000 for each person in a single accident and $50,000 for all persons in a single accident
- Property Damage coverage in the amount of $15,000 per accident, to pay for damages to other vehicles as well as other property
State law also requires that drivers carry uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage for bodily injury matching the minimum liability limits. This coverage can be waived if the insured refuses it in writing. There is no requirement for property damage coverage under uninsured/underinsured motorist, though it is often offered.
In order to create a comprehensive insurance policy to cover the many risks of operating a vehicle, Idaho drivers have a list of available coverage options to choose from.
The most common options drivers choose to add to their policy are increased liability limits, collision, and comprehensive.
- Liability limits higher than the state minimum provide better protection for drivers, particularly in the event of the serious accident.
- Collision coverage pays for damage to your car in the event of an at-fault accident. Without this coverage, there is no benefit to pay for that damage when you are found negligent.
- Comprehensive coverage pays for any damage to the vehicle that is caused by anything other than an accident. This includes theft, vandalism, fire, and any weather-related damage.
In addition to these common choices, there are a number of other options that can be added to a car insurance policy for extra protection.
- Medical payments coverage to pay for injuries to you or anyone in your household after an accident
- Uninsured Motorist property damage coverage to pay for damage to your vehicle by a driver who has no insurance or whose insurance is not sufficient
- Rental Reimbursement to pay for a rental car during a covered claim
- Towing and Labor coverage to pay for roadside assistance needs not related to an accident
Proof of Insurance and the Law
Idaho drivers are required to carry proof of insurance and present it upon request during a traffic stop or at the scene of an accident. When registering a car, Idaho requires drivers to sign a statement agreeing to provide the minimum liability insurance requirements.
Drivers who are caught driving uninsured will face a $75 fine for the first offense. Subsequent offenses will result in fines of up to $1,000. In some cases, the driver may face suspension of driving privileges.
Drivers who have been convicted of driving without insurance may be required to provide an SR-22, which is a proof of financial responsibility form filed by the insurance company on the driver’s behalf.
Shopping for Car Insurance in Idaho
Idaho drivers pay some of the lowest car insurance rates in the nation. According to a 2017 Insure.com study, Idaho was the third lowest for average car insurance rates. Idaho’s $942 average rate based on the sample policy falls well below the national average of $1,318.
The Idaho Department of Insurance helps consumers to choose an insurance company by providing a searchable database of complaints against companies on their website. They also provide a guide for shopping for and purchasing auto insurance, which consumers can use to make the right choice for their needs.
As in all states, Idaho drivers with clean records and experience on the road can expect to get the best rates. Idaho insurance companies can use credit scores along with other information about the car and driver to determine rates.
High-Risk Drivers in Idaho
Drivers who have multiple tickets or accidents, major violations, or other issues may have difficulty obtaining car insurance. These drivers are often referred to as high-risk drivers.
High-risk drivers who have been turned down for insurance on the voluntary market can obtain the coverage they need to drive legally through The Idaho Automobile Insurance Plan, which is part of the Western Association of Automobile Plans. This plan assigns high-risk drivers to insurance companies. The insurer is required by law to provide coverage.
Insurance for high-risk drivers is very expensive. Even with the assigned risk plan, rates are high. Staying free of tickets and accidents is the best way to bring those rates down and qualify for a standard insurance policy.
Teen Drivers in Idaho
In order to get a license to drive in Idaho, teens must graduate through a series of licensing stages. These stages each have their own restrictions and requirements and help teens to learn the skills they need to become safe, skilled drivers.
Supervised Instruction Permit (SIP)
Teens can obtain a supervised instruction permit at the age of 14.5 years. This permit must be obtained in order to begin the mandatory driver education course.
With the SIP, teens can drive only when there is a supervising driver over the age of 21 in the passenger seat.
Idaho law requires all teen drivers to take a driver education course as well as to complete a minimum of 50 hours of practice time behind the wheel, with 10 of those hours required to be at night. All of these requirements must be met while the teen holds the SIP, and before taking the test for the next level of licensing.
Driver education through public schools must last for a minimum of 30 days – this does not apply to private driver education schools. There must be at least 6 hours of behind the wheel instruction along with 30 hours of classroom instruction.
After 6 months with a SIP and at the age of at least 15 years, teens in Idaho can apply for a restricted driver license.
This license can be obtained only after completing all of the SIP requirements for driver education and practice time. The teen will need to pass a knowledge test as well as a road test to obtain an underage license.
With this license, teens can drive unsupervised only during daylight hours, up until the age of 17.
After the age of 17, there is a restriction on passengers for the first six months, with no more than one passenger permitted who is under 17 unless the passenger is a family member.
At 18 years old, teens in Idaho will graduate to the full license. At this time all restrictions will be lifted.
Like all drivers, teens in Idaho must provide financial responsibility. Parents and guardians are required to sign a liability statement, assuming financial responsibility for the driver. In most cases, teen drivers are covered by the insurance policy of a parent or guardian until they are independent.
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