In Mississippi, drivers are required by law to carry a minimum amount of liability insurance. This insurance requirement protects drivers from both damage done by someone else and from the financial implications of being found at fault for an accident.
Insurance companies in Mississippi offer both policies to meet the minimum requirements and many coverage options to enhance protection from the high cost of accidents.
As of 2006, the minimum coverage required by law in Mississippi was increased to higher liability limits than previously mandated. Drivers are only required to carry liability insurance, and must carry at least the following limits:
- Bodily Injury Coverage – $25,000 per person and $50,000 per incident. This pays for injuries or death to others in the event of an accident in which you are found at fault.
- Property Damage Coverage – $25,000 in coverage. This pays for damage done to a vehicle or any other property belonging to another person.
While these are the limits required by law, the Mississippi Department of Insurance points out that this is often not sufficient considering the high cost of a major accident, and that many people choose to increase these limits. In addition, there are a number of other coverage options to choose from.
Mississippi drivers also have the option of posting a bond or making a cash or security deposit to satisfy the financial responsibility law.
In Mississippi insurance companies offer a wide range of coverage that drivers can choose to add to their policy to protect themselves from the financial risks of owning and driving a car. Among these options are increased liability limits, as previously mentioned, and a list of other options.
- Collision Coverage – This pays for any damage to your vehicle in the event that you are found at fault in an accident, or in a hit and run driver situation, and usually requires a deductible.
- Comprehensive Coverage – This option will pay for damages to your car caused by multiple events that do not involve a collision. This includes things like theft, vandalism, weather damage, and fire. Comprehensive usually includes coverage for glass-only claims and also has a deductible applied.
- Uninsured/Underinsured Motorist – This coverage will pay for damages caused by drivers who are either uninsured or do not have enough coverage to pay for all of the damage in an accident.
- Medical Payments – This optional coverage will pay for medical expenses for you, your passengers, or household members covered by your policy regardless of who is at fault in the accident. It may also cover injuries to pedestrians who are included in the policy.
- Towing and Labor – This coverage option includes benefits for having a vehicle towed after a non-collision incident as well as other roadside assistance needs.
- Rental Reimbursement – This provides coverage to pay for a rental car while your car is being repaired after a covered loss.
In addition to these common options, Mississippi insurance companies offer many other options and add-ons that allow drivers to create a comprehensive policy to meet individual needs for insurance coverage.
Proof of Insurance in Mississippi
All drivers in Mississippi must not only carry the required insurance, but also provide proof. Drivers must present proof of insurance to police during a traffic stop or at the scene of an accident upon request. That proof can, as of July 2013, be presenting in either a physical (paper) or electronic format.
In 2014, the state introduced the Mississippi Vehicle Insurance Verification System (MVIVS), an electronic system that tracks insurance policies. Police are able to obtain insurance policies electronically during a traffic stop by running the vehicle plates through the system to confirm that a policy is in place.
Drivers who are caught without the required insurance are subject to fines and suspension of driving privileges. Fines for failing to carry insurance under the MVIVS system are $300 for the first violation, $400 for the second, and $500 for the third. Drivers may also find their license suspended for a year or until proof of insurance is provided.
Shopping for Car Insurance in Mississippi
According to Insure.com’s annual study, Mississippi has some of the higher car insurance premiums in the country, falling at number 12 based on average rates for a sample policy. The average rate came in at $1584, about $200 higher than the national average.
The Mississippi Insurance Department provides assistance to drivers in the form of helpful information about car insurance, and sample rate comparisons in order to make shopping for car insurance easier. Mississippi drivers do not have access to a low-cost program, but can shop around and compare rates in order to reduce premiums.
The Mississippi Department of Insurance also offers company information to allow consumers to research and compare companies by reputation in order to make an educated choice.
Drivers who have multiple tickets, accidents, or major violations on their record may be classified by insurance companies as “high-risk”, meaning that they are more of a risk to insure and thus face higher insurance rates. In some cases, drivers may find it impossible to obtain insurance on the voluntary market due to a high-risk status that doesn’t meet underwriting requirements.
The Mississippi Automobile Insurance Plan exists to help high-risk drivers obtain insurance. As an assigned risk plan, it spreads the risk of insuring high-risk drivers among all insurance companies doing business in the state. Any insurance agent who is licensed in Mississippi can write a policy through this plan.
Teen Drivers in Mississippi
Like all states, Mississippi uses a graduated program for licensing teen drivers. Teens must begin with a permit and earn their way through the system by following the regulations and requirements of each level.
Teens in Mississippi can go through the learner’s permit stage in one of two ways:
- At 14 years old, they can obtain a special learner’s permit that is good only for driving in a driver education vehicle while enrolled in an approved driver education course.
- At 15 years old, they can take a written test to obtain a regular learner’s permit, which allows driving while supervised.
Teens must hold a learner’s permit for at least 12 months before taking a road test. Those who choose the 14-year-old permit option will still need to complete 12 months with a regular permit. All teens must be enrolled in school to obtain a permit.
At 16 years old and after holding a permit for 12 months, teens can take the road test to obtain an intermediate license. With this license, driving unsupervised is permitted under these restrictions:
- Sunday through Thursday, driving is only permitted from 6 a.m. to 10 p.m., unless accompanied by a parent, guardian, or other licensed driver over 21.
- Friday and Saturday, driving is only permitted from 6 a.m. to 11:30 p.m., unless accompanied by a parent, guardian, or other driver over 21 with a full license.
Time restrictions can be waived in approved circumstances, such as for employment.
At 17 years old, teens can graduate to a full class R license. At this time all restrictions will be lifted.
Teens must meet the state insurance requirements as soon as they obtain their first license. This can be accomplished by adding the teen driver to the policy of a parent or guardian. Teens can continue to be covered under a parent or guardian policy even when away at school, as long as all insurance company requirements are met.
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