All drivers in Iowa must have insurance in order to legally operate a vehicle on Iowa roadways.

The Iowa Department of Transportation does not mandate that Iowa drivers must demonstrate proof of insurance coverage in order to apply for a license. However, the state Financial and Safety Responsibility Act requires anyone involved in a motor vehicle accident to be able to provide proof of financial responsibility. If a driver is not able to provide insurance information, he or she runs the risk of having the driver’s license revoked or suspended.
Iowa minimum car insurance requirements are:

  • $20,000 to cover the death or bodily injury of one person involved in a car accident
  • $40,000 to cover the death or bodily injury of more than one person involved in a car accident
  • $15,000 to cover liability for property damage as a result of an accident

If you are involved in an accident involving property damage over $1,000, you are required to demonstrate proof of insurance. According to the Iowa Department of Transportation, proof of insurance can be shown in one of the following ways:

  • Show proof of coverage by an auto insurance policy
  • Post the required amount in the form of cash, cashier’s check, certified check, bank draft or postal money order to the Department of Transportation
  • Get a release from damaged or injured parties, waiving your financial responsibility
  • Get a civil action lawsuit decision that waives your financial liability
  • File an agreement for payment of the amount owed in installments
  • File evidence of a paid settlement for the damaged or injuries

Drivers Without Adequate Insurance

It is required to hold both uninsured and under insured motorists coverage in the state of Iowa. This protects drivers from losing property or health coverage if they get into an accident out of no fault of their own with a driver who does not have the proper insurance coverage.

Residents with no car insurance in Iowa who are involved in an auto accident may contact the Iowa Department of Transportation for information on meeting the financial responsibility requirements. The DOT Office of Driver Services can be contacted toll-free at (800) 532-1121.

Drivers must also show financial responsibility if their license has been suspended or revoked due to a conviction or violation of traffic laws.

According to the Department of Transportation, drivers who have had their licenses suspended or revoked must file proof of financial responsibility in one of the following ways:

  • File an SR-22 form (outlined in consumer rights and tools)
  • File a security, bond or cash deposit amounting to at least $55,000
  • Proof of insurance coverage held by the driver’s employer in the form of an SR-22
  • Proof of insurance coverage from an employer that owns a fleet of vehicles in the form of an SR-23
  • Proof of insurance provided by a self-insured resident; this person must have a self-insurance certificate issued by the Department of Transportation

Alternative Options to Insurance:

Residents of Iowa may opt to file for a certificate of self-insurance rather than purchase insurance through an insurance company. In order to do this, the resident must submit some form of proof or collateral that demonstrates his or her future ability to cover the minimum amount of insurance requirements in the event of an accident.

Obtaining a License

All drivers in Iowa must have a license in order to operate a motor vehicle, including motorcycles and mopeds, on Iowa roads. Non-residents with driver’s licenses in other states or countries do not need an Iowa driver’s license. People are considered residents as far as drivers licenses are concerned if they meet one of the following criteria:

  • They are registered to vote in Iowa
  • They have children enrolled in Iowa public schools
  • They have accepted permanent employment in the state of Iowa
  • They have lived in Iowa for 30 consecutive days

The following drivers are not required to apply for a license in Iowa:

  • Active-duty U.S. Armed Forces military members driving a military motor vehicle
  • Those driving farm equipment to other farmland or operation areas within two miles of the main farm
  • Students or visiting foreigners with driver’s licenses from their home state or country

Any questions about when and how to get an Iowa license can be directed to the Motor Vehicle Information Center at 800-532-1121.

According to Section 1 of the Iowa Driver’s Manual, requirements for getting a license in Iowa are as follows:

  • Be at least 16 years old (there is a graduated licensing system for young people)
  • Submit proof of identity
  • Submit proof of age
  • Have parental/guardian consent if you are under 18
  • Pass a driver education course if you are under 18 years old
  • Pass physical and written driving tests
  • Pass a vision test
  • Turn in past driver’s license
  • Have no history of license suspension
  • Have no history of mental or physical disability that may incapacitate the ability to operate a vehicle
  • Have all traffic fines paid

In Iowa, children as young as 14 years old are able to apply for restricted driver’s licenses. Drivers under the age of 18 will go through three steps, known as the graduated driver’s license (GDL) system. They will first get an instruction permit, then an intermediate license, and finally a full license. Driver education is a component of the graduated license system, and drivers may be required to participate in driver improvement programs if they incur traffic violations or are at-fault in an accident during the GDL period.

In order to apply for an instruction permit, the following requirements must be met:

  • Be 14 years of age or older
  • Have written consent from a parent or guardian
  • Pass vision tests
  • Pass driving knowledge tests

Those with an instruction permit must have it for at least 6 months before applying for a driver’s license.

Holding a Driver’s License

All drivers in Indiana must have met following guidelines during their permit period in order to receive a license:

  • Driven only with supervision by a parent or guardian, a family member over the age of 21, an instructor of a driver education program, or a licensed driver over the age of 25 if the parents give written permission
  • Only drive with a number of passengers equal to or less than the number of seat belts
  • Finish a driver education course
  • Have logged at least 20 hours of supervised driving practice, at least two hours of which must have been between dusk and dawn
  • Have had no accidents or violations for six consecutive months

Driver Education

Drivers education courses are available in Iowa for anyone at least 14 years of age who have received an instruction permit.

Drivers education courses in Iowa are required to include:

  • At least 30 hours of classroom driving education, four hours of which must cover substance abuse
  • At least 20 minutes covering crossing railroad tracks, organ donation and bicycle and motorcycle safety
  • At least six hours of lab work, three of which must be on the road in a real car

Intermediate License

After drivers have met all the requirements of the instruction permit, they may apply for an intermediate license when they are 16 years old. The driver must have written approval from a parent or guardian in order to apply.

The rules of the intermediate license are as follows:

  • The intermediate license must be held for at least 12 months prior to receiving a full license
  • Drivers are allowed to be on the road unsupervised between 5 a.m. and 12:30 a.m.
  • If on the road from 12:30 a.m. to 5:30 a.m., the driver must be with a parent, family member over 21 years of age or approved adult over 25 years of age
  • In order to drive alone from 12:30 a.m. to 5:30 a.m., the driver must have a waiver, and must be on the road due to work or school activities
  • Must not drive with more passengers than seat belts
  • Must not get in an accident or receive a violation for at least 12 months prior to getting a full license

Full License

A full drivers license for the state of Iowa is available to residents of 17 years or older. They must have fulfilled all the requirements of their intermediate license, including holding one for at least 12 months prior to application for the full license. They must also have written approval from a parent or guardian.

Holders of a full drivers license will be able to drive in Iowa with no restrictions.

Learning the Rules of the Road

All drivers in Iowa must follow the state laws and conduct themselves responsibly while driving. Any violation of traffic laws may result in a traffic ticket, fine, license suspension or license termination upon the discretion of Iowa law enforcement and the Iowa Department of Transportation.

In Iowa, all expenses incurred as a result of an accident must be paid by the at-fault driver. This means that any property damage, loss of work income, medical costs or other fees are the responsibility of the driver who is found to have caused the accident. Iowa residents must take this into consideration when determining which type of insurance plan works best for them, as the minimum liability coverage will only cover up to a set amount of damages, despite the allure of cheap liability car insurance in Iowa. Beyond that, the driver will be responsible for the rest of the damages.

Drivers may wish to purchase personal injury protection, collision protection or comprehensive physical damage protection in order to fully protect themselves from large payments in an at-fault accident. Just because a driver in Iowa purchases the minimum amount of coverage, liability coverage will not cover the cost of damage to your own vehicle if you are at fault.

Calculating Rates

Insurance companies use many different factors to calculate insurance rates for drivers of Iowa. Insurance rates represent a probability of the occurrence of an accident or theft and the probable cost of repair or replacement if a claim is filed. So, insurance companies will look at many aspects of a driver’s life and history in order to determine the level of financial risk they may pose to the insurance company. Drivers with a higher amount of financial risk usually pay higher insurance rates, while those who are low risk will enjoy the lowest auto insurance rates in Iowa. Some of the most common things that will affect insurance rates include:

  • Age. According to the Iowa Department of Transportation, in the year 2000, the highest amount of fatal car accidents occurred with drivers in age range of 15 to 24, with the highest amount around 18 years of age. Because of statistics such as these, drivers under 25 typically see higher insurance rates than older drivers.
  • Gender. Males are usually asked to pay higher insurance rates than females. Males under the age of 25 have a statistically higher amount of accidents than females under the age of 25, and this age group is usually more affected than any other age group when it comes to insurance rates.
  • Driving record. Your driving history will also determine the level of liability you may pose to an insurance company. The more incidents of tickets, violations, fines or other law-breaking activities you have, the higher your insurance premium may be. Conversely, if you have a good driving record, you can enjoy affordable auto insurance in Iowa.
  • Claims history. Any insurance claims that have been made on a driver’s policy in the past will be considered and may affect current insurance rates. Those with a high amount of insurance claims are deemed a higher risk, especially if there are a large amount of at-fault incidents in your claim history. Drivers with perfect driving records, who have never filed an insurance claim typically see the best rates.
  • Marital status. Married people are generally charged lower insurance premiums that single people because married couples are statistically involved in fewer accidents.
  • Geographical area. Your geographical area may play a part in your insurance rates because drivers who live in high-crime areas or areas with high numbers of traffic collisions have a higher probability of filing a claim than those living in safer areas.
  • Year, make, and model of the insured vehicle. Vehicles that are new, luxury or high-performance may require higher premiums because the cost to replace or repair them will be higher than less expensive or popular vehicles.

For more statistics regarding accidents and related information, the Iowa Department of Transportation provides documents of studies available to the public.

Getting the Best Rates

Conducting thorough research on all available insurance policies and companies should allow residents to choose the most affordable plan with the highest amount of benefits. Weighing the amount of benefits with the insurance rates is important, rather than simply choosing the plan with the lowest rates. It is possible that you could get a better deal in the long run, or in the event of an accident, with a plan that offers more coverage than the bare minimum. This will ensure that you get the best car insurance in Iowa.

Another way to save money is to purchase multiple policies from the same insurance company. Residents may be able to save money overall by getting things like property insurance and car insurance from the same provider.

Learning the rules of the road and making sure to follow them is also a good method of lowering your potential insurance rates. Drivers with fewer incidents of traffic violations and accidents have a better chance at lower rates, even if an accident was not your fault.

Those who are in one of the “professions,” such as teachers and doctors, should research possible discounts that may be available to professionals in those fields so that they can get low cost car insurance in Iowa.

Help Dealing With Insurance Companies

The Iowa Department of Insurance provides assistance and information to all residents who need help understanding their insurance policy or filing a complaint against their insurance provider. The Department offers full explanations about filing a complaint, a complaint form to download, and a page where residents can submit a complaint online.

The Department also provides Complaint Ratios for various insurance companies representing Iowa residents and makes efforts to inform consumers of insurance companies that have received numerous complaints.

After an Accident:

According to the Iowa DOT, When any driver is involved in a car accident, there are many legal procedures that must be taken. Drivers should first notify the police immediately after the accident. They should also check to see if other drivers or passengers have been injured. If there is a need for medical attention, someone should make every effort to call 911 as quickly as possible and describe the condition of the injured party.

All parties should stay at the scene of the accident until they have given a police report and a police officer has given them clearance to leave the scene. For their own records, and in order to file a report with their insurance company, drivers should take down as much information as possible about the accident. It is beneficial to get the names, phone number, address, driver’s license number, make and model of the vehicle, and insurance information of any other driver involved in an accident

Usually insurance reports include information about the details of the incident from your perspective, such as where you were, how you were maneuvering the vehicle, what happened directly before the accident, and why the accident occurred. Your insurance company will also likely ask you about the extent of damage to all involved vehicles.

An accident report must be filed with the Iowa Department of Transportation Office of Driver services no later than 72 hours after the incident in there has been any resulting injury death or property damage over $1,000. If an officer came to the scene and investigated the accident, he or she may file a report, and, in this case, the drivers do not need to file with the DOT.

Requirements after License Suspension or Revocation

There are times when Iowa drivers have their driver’s license suspended or revoked. This can be due to excessive at-fault accidents, failure to pay tickets or fines or failure to follow other laws and procedures outlined by the Department of Transportation.

Oftentimes, when a license in suspended, a driver is required to file for high risk insurance, or SR-22 insurance.

High Risk Insurance

The SR-22 system is used in Iowa in order to keep track of the insurance coverage of drivers with especially high levels of liability or risk to other drivers on the road. The state wants to make sure that these drivers maintain their insurance coverage and are able to compensate other drivers for damages due to any future at-fault accidents. Those who have received DUI’s, tickets for driving without insurance or other serious legal offenses must file an SR-22 high-risk insurance agreement. The individual may keep their license as long as they maintain insurance coverage according to the requirements of the SR-22 system. In fact, the only way to regain your license once it has been suspended or revokes is though an SR-22 insurance policy.

Iowa residents may contact the Office of Drivers Services in order to get more information on high-risk insurance in the state of Iowa:

Iowa’s Office of Driver’s Services
Park Fair Mall
100 Euclid Avenue
PO Box 9204
Des Moines, IA 50306-9204
Phone: 515 244-9124

Online resources include: