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Is Car Insurance Required By Law?

Is Car Insurance Required By United States Laws?

A lot of responsibility comes with operating a vehicle, including having car insurance in case of an accident. 

Car insurance is crucial if you have a driver’s license and drive an automobile. Just about every state mandates a basic auto insurance policy. Like homeowner’s insurance or healthcare insurance, car insurance offers policyholders financial protection in the event of an accident.

A lot of literal and figurative mess comes with a car accident. Outside of the literal wreckage, a driver in an accident could be held responsible for its many costs, such as medical expenses, lost income due to injury, legal fees, and more. 

Car insurance is required by law in most states, including Utah. So, let’s talk about the basics of car insurance, different types of coverage, legal requirements, associated penalties, and more. It’s easier to follow the law when you know what the law is!

Continue reading below.

The Basics of Car Insurance 

Shopping for car insurance can be overwhelming unless you understand the basics. Car insurance is a contract between you and your chosen insurance company that helps protect you against financial loss in the case of a wreck or theft. You pay your premium in exchange for your insurance company paying for the losses outlined in your policy.

Generally speaking, car insurance coverage includes the following:

  • Liability — Liability coverage includes your legal responsibility to others for property damage or bodily injury.
  • Medical — Medical coverage provides for the cost of tending injuries, rehabilitation (such as physical therapy), and, in some cases, the loss of wages or funeral expenses.
  • Property — Property coverage covers damage to or theft of your vehicle. 

Insurance policies are often priced individually (a la carte), which allows you to customize coverage to suit your exact situation, needs, wants, and budget. Most insurance companies will issue policies in six-month or one-year timeframes, which are renewable. 

Your insurance provider will notify you when you need to renew your policy and pay premiums; however, most can be set up for auto-pay and auto-renew.

Car Insurance: Who is Covered and Under What Circumstances?

Most car insurance policies will cover you and any other family member listed on your policy, whether you are driving a car you own or somebody else’s car (with permission granted). Most policies also provide coverage when someone not listed on your policy is driving your car with permission.

Your personal car insurance policy only offers coverage while driving for personal reasons, such as running errands, commuting to work, taking a trip, etc. 

Most policies do not provide coverage if you use your car for commercial purposes, like making deliveries or providing transportation services like Lyft or Uber. However, some insurance companies offer supplemental policies for an additional cost that extends coverage for car owners offering ride-sharing services. 

We don’t recommend making deliveries or providing transportation without having the proper coverage. It costs more, but the added protection will be worth it in the long run. 

Other Types of Car Insurance 

A legally-mandated, basic car insurance policy will cover the damage your car causes; however, it doesn’t cover the damage to your automobile. To protect your own vehicle, you should look into the additional coverage options:

  • Collision Coverage — Collision coverage will reimburse you for damage your car incurs because of a wreck with another car or other object (guardrail, tree, etc.) when you are at fault. Collision coverage will also cover damage from potholes or rolling your automobile, but it does not cover mechanical failure or regular wear-and-tear.
  • Glass Coverage — Glass coverage will provide coverage from the oh-so-common windshield damage. Some policies even have no-deductible glass coverage, protecting your side and rear windows and sunroof (if you have one).
  • Comprehensive Coverage — Comprehensive coverage protects policyholders against theft and damage caused by non-collision accidents, such as vandalism, fire, hail, falling trees and rocks, and other hazards.
  • Gap Insurance — Comprehensive and collision coverage will only cover your vehicle’s market value, not how much you paid for it — and remember, cars (especially new cars) depreciate fast!

    If you are in an accident and your vehicle is totaled, or someone steals your car, there may be a difference — or a “gap” — in what you owe on the vehicle and what insurance will pay out. To cover this gap, you must purchase gap insurance to pay the difference. Otherwise, you’ll be paying out of pocket to cover that gap, which no one wants. 

Minimum Insurance Requirements in Utah

Most state laws outline the minimum amount of auto insurance a driver must have. Here are Utah’s laws as of 2023 on the matter:

  • $25,000 Bodily Injury Per Person — The coverage pays for any injuries you cause to the driver and passengers in the other car(s) and to anyone outside of a vehicle that is injured.
  • $65,000 Bodily Injury Per Accident — This is the maximum amount your insurance company will pay for injuries to others for each accident.
  • $15,000 Property Damage — This is how much your insurance company will cover for any property damaged in the accident. This could apply to other cars, personal property in the other cars, or property outside of a car, such as a sign or a fence.

Utah is a no-fault state, so drivers are legally required to have Personal Injury Protection (PIP) coverage. While Utah has minimum requirements, the driver can purchase more PIP insurance. 

Options to increase liability limits and add more coverages exist within most insurance providers. If you want to have more financial protection in the event of an accident, most insurance professionals will recommend increasing liability limits. You’ll pay more out of pocket each month, but you’ll have better coverage if you’re in an accident. 

To clarify and restate: minimum coverage will not protect your vehicle. To protect your car, you must add comprehensive and collision coverages. If you’ve financed your car, your lender will likely require you to make these purchases.

Penalties for Driving Without Car Insurance in Utah

As mentioned above, Utah requires its drivers to have the minimum liability coverage, which is $25k for bodily injury per person, $65k per accident, and $15k for property damage per accident. Driving without the minimum insurance is considered a Class B misdemeanor in Utah. Breaking this law can result in severe penalties.

If you are caught driving without car insurance, Utah State can charge fines and suspend your driver’s license and even your registration. Getting driving privileges back can be tedious and costly. You could be caught without insurance during a traffic stop, at the scene of an accident, or at a checkpoint. Utah’s Uninsured Motorist Identification Database Program (UMIDP) can also flag you in its system.

This is why always having proof of insurance, like your ID card or your policy’s declaration letter, is critical when operating a vehicle. Here are the penalty details you may face if you drive uninsured in Utah:

  • You’ve Been Stopped or Flagged in the Database — If you’ve been caught driving without insurance during a traffic stop, checkpoint, or at the scene of an accident, or the UMIDP database has flagged you, the Department of Public Safety will send you a notice. You have 15 days to send in proof of insurance to avoid penalties.

Failing to send proof of insurance will result in the state fining you and charging you an additional court security surcharge for your first offense. Any further violations will result in more fines and a court security surcharge.

You can reduce your fines with a compliance credit. Utah offers some grace if you are caught operating your vehicle without insurance, but you purchase a policy before appearing in court. Your insurance company must file an SR-22 form on your behalf. Doing this could reduce your fine as a compliance credit.

Utah State can further reduce your charges, even entirely dismiss your fine, if you can prove you had insurance coverage at the time of your citation to the court. Simply bring proof of coverage to your hearing.

  • Driving Without Insurance in an Accident — Drivers who are driving uninsured and cause an accident will face harsher penalties. You can expect to pay the same fine and a court security surcharge for your first offense or a fine plus court surcharges on your second and subsequent offenses.

    Where it can become “harsher” is if you are found at fault by the court, penalties can increase. You must surrender your registration and driver’s license for an entire year.

Reinstating Your License and Registration: Fees and Requirements

If you hope to reinstate your driver’s license, you must present the court proof of your auto insurance policy or keep an SR-22 form on file for three years. You must pay violation, citation fines, and the driver’s license reinstatement fee.

To restore your vehicle’s registration, you’ll need to:

  • Provide proof of an SR-22 form or an insurance policy
  • Show proof of vehicle ownership marked on your citation
  • Show valid photo identification
  • Pay all fine balances and a reinstatement fee

If you are at fault for an accident while uninsured, you must fulfill the mandatory one-year suspension before starting the reinstatement process.

Automobile Insurance: Reapplying in Utah

The monetary penalties for driving without insurance are usually more costly than buying a car insurance policy, to begin with. A mishap here can result in your being labeled a “high-risk driver,” which can hinder the ease of obtaining affordable car insurance. 

If you are still looking for coverage, look into applying for a Utah Automobile Insurance Plan (UT AIP) policy via any Utah car insurance company.

Frequently Asked Questions About Car Insurance 

Do you still have questions? Let’s see if we can get them answered:

Q: How much car insurance do I need?

A: At the very least, to avoid punishment by law, you’ll need your state’s minimum liability coverage. If you want more coverage and aren’t sure where to begin figuring out how much you’ll need, consider the following:

  • The year, make, and model of your vehicle.
  • Your assets’ actual value.
  • The time of year and day you drive most.
  • Your driving habits, tendencies, and routines.

Q: How much money is automobile insurance in Utah?

A: How much Utah residents pay for car insurance varies from driver to driver and policy to policy. 

Q: What happens if you give a law enforcement officer false insurance information?

A: Not being able to provide proof of insurance can result in a fine or license suspension. Providing false information can be considered insurance fraud and may be further legally punishable.

Q: How do I find the best car insurance for my family and me?

A: Finding the best car insurance can feel stressful and even overwhelming. The best thing you can do to ease the pain of shopping for insurance coverage is to find a knowledgeable and reputable agent in your area. They can help you find the best coverage for you, your family, and your vehicle. 

A trusted agent will be able to guide you through the entire car insurance shopping process and find a policy that makes the most sense for you.

Call Bear River Mutual for All of Your Car Insurance Needs!

Are you looking to buy car insurance? The professionals at Bear River Mutual can help!

While it is legally required, having car insurance is a great way to protect yourself financially, giving you the peace of mind you deserve. Whether you’re looking for automobile insurance, home insurance, renters’ insurance, or another type of insurance, shopping for car insurance is made easy with the experts at Bear River Mutual Insurance.

Our knowledgeable and trusted team is here to help you find the right policy for you and your loved ones. It should be the perfect balance of protection and value. We proudly serve those in Orem, Provo, and Salt Lake City, as well as many neighboring cities in Northern Utah.

Contact us today to receive a free insurance quote!

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