If you plan to hit the road in Iowa, you'll need to establish financial responsibility first. This is meant to protect you but also anyone sharing the road — such as passengers, other drivers and pedestrians. You'll need to carry proof of your coverage, such as an insurance ID card, any time you're behind the wheel.
If you're caught driving without proof of financial responsibility, you could be on the hook for a $250 fine and a court may even choose to suspend your driving privileges for up to 12 months.
Driving without insurance
Driving without insurance in an accident
|$250 or community service in lieu of the fine||$250 mandatory fine|
|Removal of license plates and registration receipt; or vehicle impoundment||Vehicle impoundment; license and registration suspension for 12 months if damage to the other party exceeds $1,500; registration suspension on all vehicles registered under owner's name|
|Payment of fine or completion of community service; proof of insurance or SR-22, $15 administrative fee; vehicle towing and storage fees||Proof of insurance or SR-22; vehicle towing and storage fees; $15 administrative fee; $200 civil penalty; passing grade at a knowledge test, driving exam and vision screening test; $20 license renewal fee|
Penalties for driving uninsured in Iowa
- $20,000 for bodily injury liability per person
- $40,000 for bodily injury liability per accident
- $15,000 for property damage
Law enforcers in Iowa can ask for your proof of liability coverage at traffic stops, routine checkpoints or at the scene of an accident. If you're cited for driving without insurance, the best move is to pay the fine and provide proof of financial responsibility in the form of an active policy or an SR-22 coverage guarantee from your insurer. If you do this within 30 days, Iowa will dismiss your citation.
But if you miss the deadline, the state will confiscate your license plates, suspend your registration, and impound or immobilize your vehicle — on top of charging the fine. You may be able to complete community service in lieu of paying the ticket.
To get your driving privileges back, you'll need to buy an insurance policy, ask your insurer to file an SR-22 form on your behalf and pay a $15 administrative fee. Your department of motor vehicles will send you new license plates and a new registration receipt so you can drive your car again. If your car has been impounded, you will have to pay the towing and storage fees as well.
Failure to show proof of insurance after an accident
The consequences increase if you cause an accident while uninsured. If the property damage bills and medical expenses from the accident exceed $1,500 and you can't provide proof of insurance, the state will automatically suspend your license and registration for up to 12 months. The suspension may also extend to other vehicles registered under your name, and the car involved in the crash may be impounded.
It gets harder to reinstate driving privileges, too. You'll need to show proof of active insurance or file an SR-22 within 30 days of the accident. That form will need to stay on file for two years — and any lapses will result in another license suspension.
Once you've provided proof of insurance, you'll have to pay the $250 fine, $15 administrative fee, $200 civil penalty and $20 license renewal fee. The state will also require a knowledge test, a driving exam and a vision screening test before restoring your license and registration.
If your car was impounded as part of your sentence, you can reclaim it after you've paid the costs for towing and storage. But the state may treat your car as an abandoned vehicle if you don't recover it within 30 days.
Drivers should also understand Iowa's Modified Comparative Negligence Law, which says both parties involved in an accident can be found mutually at fault. The threshold in Iowa is 50%. If a court says you're at least 51% at fault in the accident, you won't be able to file a claim through the other driver's auto insurance policy. You'll have to pay for any medical and repair costs out of your own pocket.
Re-applying for auto insurance in Iowa
In Iowa, insurance carriers can deny you coverage if you have a less-than-stellar driving record. If you do find an insurance carrier willing to sell you a policy, it can increase your rates if you've been in an accident within the past five years. In such instances, you may contact the Iowa Assigned Automobile Insurance Plans (IAAIP).