If you plan to hit the road in Iowa, you’ll need to have minimum liability car insurance coverage or an accepted alternative proof of financial responsibility, such as a bond insurance card or surety insurance card issued by the Iowa Department of Transportation. You'll need to carry proof of your coverage, such as an insurance ID card, anytime you're behind the wheel.
If you're caught driving without proof of financial responsibility, you could be on the hook for hundreds of dollars, 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
|$325 or community service in lieu of the fine||$645 mandatory fine|
|Removal of license plates and registration receipt or vehicle impoundment, at the discretion of the officer||Vehicle impoundment; license and registration suspension of up to 12 months if damage to the other party exceeds $1,500; registration suspension of vehicle — and possibly all vehicles registered under owner's name; possible vehicle impoundment|
|Payment of fine or completion of community service; proof of insurance or SR-22; $15 administrative fee; vehicle towing and storage fees if car was impounded||Proof of insurance or SR-22; vehicle towing and storage fees if car was impounded; $15 administrative fee; payment of fine; passing grade at a knowledge test, driving exam and vision screening test to reinstate license after one year's suspension; $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 per accident
Law enforcement officers in Iowa can ask for your proof of liability coverage at traffic stops, routine checkpoints and the scene of an accident. If you're cited for driving without insurance and don't have active coverage, the best response is to quickly 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.
If you miss the deadline, the state will confiscate your license plates, suspend your registration and possibly impound or immobilize your vehicle on top of charging the fine.
In any circumstance, you may be able to complete community service in lieu of paying the ticket.
To get your driving privileges back after a suspension, 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. The 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 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 a $645 fine, $15 administrative fee and $20 license renewal fee. The state will also require you to pass a knowledge test, a driving exam and a vision screening before restoring your license and registration if your suspension was in effect for a year or more.
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 for 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 costs and repairs out of your own pocket.
Reapplying for auto insurance in Iowa
In Iowa, insurance carriers can deny you coverage if you have a poor driving record. Convictions for driving without insurance can negatively impact your record. Also, if you do find an insurance carrier willing to sell you a policy, your rates may be higher if you've been in an accident within the past five years. In such instances, you can contact the Iowa Assigned Automobile Insurance Plan.