When driving a vehicle that is registered in the State of New Mexico you are required to have minimum liability auto insurance.
New Mexico minimum car insurance requirements are:
- Auto insurance policy with limits of at least 25/50/10 – meaning:
- Liability coverage
- $25,000 of bodily injury or death of one person
- $50,000 of bodily injury or death of two or more persons
- $10,000 of property damage in a single accident
Although uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage is not required in this state, you may want to consider purchasing this optional coverage to protect yourself in the case that you are involved in an accident with someone without adequate auto insurance.
Collision and comprehensive coverage is also not required by law, but the majority of lenders require collision coverage if financing a vehicle. Many drivers also choose to purchase comprehensive coverage to protect their car against damage such as vandalism, fire, hail, or flood.
Those who do not have health insurance may want to consider purchasing medical payments coverage, which will cover a certain amount of expenses either you or your passengers incur due to injuries from a car accident.
Alternative Options to Insurance:
Self-insurance certificates are available in this state through the New Mexico Public Regulation Commission, Insurance Division under the conditions of statute NMAC 13.12.4 allowing that:
- You or your company must have at least 26 registered vehicles
You must qualify by application through the New Mexico Public Regulation Commission:
P.O. Box 1269
Santa Fe, NM 87504-1269
Required Proof of Insurance in New Mexico
You must always carry proof of your insurance when driving a vehicle in New Mexico. Proof of insurance comes in the form of an insurance card that is provided by the insurance company or a certificate of self-insurance. In the case that you are involved in an accident or stopped by an officer, one of these documents must be presented to prove that you are insured.
Insurance card should include all of the following:
- Name of insured driver
- Name of insurance company
- Insurance policy number
- Effective date/expiration date of policy
- Accurate description of year, make/model of registered vehicle
Self-insurance certificates are issued by the state and must include the following:
- Certificate Number issued by the Public Regulation Commission
- Effective date of certificate
- Accurate description of year, make/model of registered vehicle
- Name of driver covered by certificate
Superintendent of the Division of Insurance – John Franchini
P.O. Drawer 1269
Santa Fe, New Mexico 87504-1269
Obtaining a Driver’s License
The law in New Mexico requires new drivers under the age of 18 to go through the New Mexico Graduated Licensing System, which means that minors are given more driving privileges over a certain amount of time. This system has three stages, starting with an instructional permit, then a provisional license, and finally a full license. Those over the age of 18 who are applying for a New Mexico driver’s license for the first time must complete a self-study DWI awareness course to obtain a license.
Here are the requirements to obtain your instructional permit:
- Be at least 15 years old
- Proof of completion or enrollment in a driver education program that is state approved.
- Proof of New Mexico residency, identity, and identification number.
- Complete an instructional permit application that is signed by a parent or guardian
- Pass a vision test
- Pass a written test or provide a certificate of completion from a driver education school that is state approved and includes a three hour DWI component
- Pay a $10 fee (subject to change)
Here are the requirements to obtain your provisional license for residents between the ages of 15 ½ and 18:
- Be at least 15 ½ years old
- Have learner’s permit for at least 6 months
- Have proof in the form of a GDL log that shows completion of 50 hours of supervised driving practice (10 of those which are at night) and is signed by a parent or legal guardian
- No traffic violations within the last 90 days
- Pass a road skills exam or provide proof of having passed a road skills exam from a driver education school in the form of a certificate of completion with test scores.
- Pay a $18 fee (subject to change)
Here are the requirements to obtain your first license for residents between the ages of 16 ½, and older:
- Complete a driver’s license application
- No traffic violations within the last 90 days
- Pay a $18 fee for a four-year license and a $34 fee for a eight-year license
The following documents are required for application:
- One proof of identity
- One proof of identification number
- Two proofs of New Mexico Residency
Completing Driver Education
If you are a new driver under the age of 18 going through graduated licensing you must be enrolled in a driver education program before you can obtain an instructional permit and complete a driver education permit before you can obtain a provisional license. New drivers between the ages of 18 and 24 are only required to complete the None for the Road self-study DWI awareness class through the University of New Mexico Continuing Education Center.
When choosing a driving school in which to complete a driver education program, you must make sure that it is state approved with certified driver education instructors. These types of driving schools provide courses that typically cover driving rules and regulations, defensive driving, DWI education and prevention, and behind-the-wheel instruction.
For example, a course for new drivers offered by the McGinnis School of Driving, a school approved by the New Mexico Department of Transportation in Albuquerque, includes 30 hours of classroom instruction, seven hours of driving time, and issues the permits and administers the state driving exam.
Knowing the Rules of the Road
New Mexico provides their rules of road online in Section 66, Article 7 of New Mexico Motor Vehicle Laws. Carefully obey these rules to qualify for the lowest possible car insurance rates.
- Approach of an oncoming vehicle – NMSA 66-7-332.1
- Authorized emergency vehicles – NMSA 66-7-6
- Drivers to exercise care – NMSA 66-7-337
- Driving on mountain highways – NMSA 66-7-359
- Driving on the right side of roadway – NMSA 66-7-308
- Driving a vehicle on approach of authorized emergency vehicles – NMSA 66-7-332
- Flashing signals – NMSA 66-7-107
- Following too closely – NMSA 66-7-318
- No passing zones – NMSA 66-7-315
- Overtaking a vehicle on the left – NMSA 66-7-310
- Safety belt use – NMSA 66-7-372
- Speed Regulation – NMSA 66-7-301
- Turning movements and required signals – NMSA 66-7-325
An insurance policy is a legal contract, therefore, before buying it, you should carefully consider the type of policy you need, how much you can afford to pay, and how much coverage you need. Even though in the State of New Mexico liability insurance is the only type of coverage required by the law, and there is cheap liability car insurance in New Mexico that you can purchase, many drivers choose to further protect themselves through additional coverage, such as uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage, comprehensive coverage, or collision coverage. Before shopping for insurance, you should take some time to familiarize yourself with insurance terminology and research auto insurance companies so that you’ll buy the right policy from a reputable provider. Read on to learn about a few things that consumers should be aware of when shopping for insurance.
Know Your Rates
Your auto insurance rate is determined after you have decided how much coverage you want, what your deductable will be, and the risk factors associated with covering all drivers on your policy. Common risk factors include age, sex, vehicle type, and driving record. Some of these factors are clearly within your control, while others are not. Insurance companies take the base rate used to evaluate all drivers covered in a policy and then adjust it taking into account several factors, including:
- Age. Statistically speaking, drivers under the age of 25 are involved in more accidents than those between the ages of 25 and 65. This is likely due to the fact that they have less experience driving a vehicle. Insurance companies will consider drivers under the age of 25 to be a higher risk and therefore charge those with younger drivers in their households more for insurance. Also, those over the age of 65 are also considered high risk drivers given that their physical ability tends to slow down.
- Sex. Men under the age of 25 are involved in more accidents than women of their same age. Because of this, male drivers are typically charged higher insurance rates than female drivers in their same age group, who typically enjoy relatively low cost car insurance in New Mexico.
- Marital status. Married couples tend to be involved in fewer accidents than those who are not married, according to statistics. Therefore, married couples may not have to have as high of an insurance rate as unmarried couples.
- Geographical area. Even the area in which you live can affect your rate. Urban drivers tend to pay more for car insurance than those in rural areas as there is a greater concentration of vehicles in a smaller area, increasing the chances of being involved in an accident.
- Driving record. Those with a poor driving record due to a history of car accidents are more likely to be involved in accidents in the future than those who do not. Driver records only show accidents that have occurred within a certain number of years before being wiped off of it completely. Unsurprisingly, those with the best driving records will qualify for the lowest auto insurance rates in New Mexico.
- Type of vehicle. The make, model, and value of the vehicle you drive can affect the cost of your insurance premium. If you have an older vehicle that has depreciated in value, you may be charged less for insurance as repairs may not be as expensive as they would be on a newer vehicle.
- Credit History. A person’s credit history can affect their insurance risk score and how much they pay for premium rates. Those who have a negative credit with a history of things like missed payments, closed accounts, and large balances may be charged higher rates than those who do not.
Lower Your Rates
Before purchasing insurance, you should speak with an insurance agent regarding specifics on how much your insurance will cover for what you are paying so that you are able to get the best coverage for the best price. It’s important to not settle for a plan just because it is cheap, only to find out that it does not offer much coverage when you need it. Also, be sure to compare auto insurance rates in New Mexico by shopping around at different companies that are permitted to do business in the state. If after speaking with a company you become suspicious, contact the Office of the Insurance Superintendent at 505-827-4299 to find out whether or not any actions have been taken against the company.
You should always inquire about discounts that may be offered, but not advertised by a company, such as a discount for drivers who are students with good grades, drivers with an accident free history, drivers who have taken a defensive driving course, and drivers who have cars with safety devices. This can help you acquire the best car insurance in New Mexico. Also, be sure to look carefully at your other insurance plans, as sometimes plans like medical insurance may overlap in coverage areas with auto insurance plans.
Picking an Insurance Agent/Broker
Those who sell auto insurance policies in New Mexico are called producers and may be referred to as insurance agents. These types of agents may be exclusive agents who work directly for a single company and sell policies for commission, or they may be independent agents who represent several different companies and work with consumers to find which company will offer them the best rate. Any of these types of agents or brokers can help you find affordable auto insurance in New Mexico.
No matter which type of agent you choose to work with, make sure that they are licensed with the state of New Mexico. The Division of Insurance provides a Producer Search where you can verify licensure of an insurance agent or producer. In addition, you may request information from the Office of the Insurance Superintendent concerning complaints that have been filed against an agent or producer or disciplinary actions that have been taken with one.
In the case that you have issues with an insurance producer that you are unable to resolve with the company yourself you can contact the Consumer Relations Division at 505-827-4439 or 505-827-4436. If an investigator finds that an insurance company or agent has violated insurance code, the responsible party will undergo disciplinary action.
After an Accident
In the state of New Mexico, you are required to file a police report if you are in an accident that results in the bodily injury or death of an individual or that causes more than $500 in damage. An accident can be reported to the police department, office of the county sheriff, or the closest office of the state police. You will be asked to give your account of how the accident happened and other details.
If you are involved in an accident, or your vehicle is stolen or damaged by flood, fire, or vandalism, you should report it to your insurance company as soon as possible. They will be able to guide you through the steps to properly file your claim and what documents will be required to do so. These types of documents may include: a proof-of-loss form, copy of the police report, medical bills, or vehicle repair bills. To receive the full benefits of your coverage, it is important that you are able to fully cooperate and provide all of the information needed to investigate your claim.
Before leaving the scene of an accident, you should get the following information from all drivers involved: name, address, phone number, insurance information, driver’s license number, and make and model of vehicle, even if the other driver has no car insurance in New Mexico. Also, be sure to keep a record of all expenses that occur as a result of the accident and any paperwork received related to your claim as they be needed later.
Insurance for High-Risk Drivers
Your driving record can prevent you from being approved for auto insurance coverage, particularly if you have a history of accidents, drunk driving, or tickets. Every driver is able to find insurance in through the New Mexico Motor Vehicle Insurance Plan, which is purposed for high-risk drivers in New Mexico who are unable to find coverage in the voluntary market. To qualify drivers must meet the following criteria:
- Possess a valid Alaska driver’s license.
- Be free of debt from any previous auto insurance policy.
According to the Western Association of Automobile Insurance Plans, which includes New Mexico, individuals who are having problems getting insured can ask an agent or broker to help them apply for this plan. After one is approved for this policy, they receive basic bodily injury and property damage coverage, unless it is required by law to have higher coverage. With time, high-risk drivers can mend their driving records and go back to more affordable auto insurance in New Mexico.
New Mexico’s Division of Insurance may be able to help you out when you are looking for insurance as they can answer inquiries related to insurance, provide information on insurance law and procedures, and look into complaints against agencies or agents.
You can contact Consumer Relations at 505-827-6940.
Online resources include:
- New Mexico Insurance Division News
- New Mexico Insurance Code
- Automobile Premium Comparison Guide – Single Driver Policies
- Automobile Premium Comparison Guide – Household Driver Policies