Auto Insurance in Colorado

Overview

Not maintaining the minimum required auto insurance on your vehicle is a serious issue in Colorado. According to stringent Colorado auto insurance laws, motorists must maintain a current auto insurance policy meeting the minimum required liability limits and must provide proof of it upon request. The penalties for driving without car insurance in the Centennial State include fines of up to $1,000, suspension of driving privileges for up to eight months and mandatory community service of up to 40 hours.

Mandatory insurance

Colorado law requires that all registered owners of a motor vehicle have a complying liability insurance policy. Liability insurance covers the damages a driver causes to another individual or their property.

Required minimum liability insurance

The minimum amount of liability insurance required by Colorado law is as follows:

  • $25,000 – bodily injury per person
  • $50,000 – bodily injury per accident
  • $15,000 – property damage per accident

Proof of insurance

Coloradans are required by law to show proof of insurance when registering their vehicle. Policyholders are also required to show proof of insurance when stopped by a law enforcement officer while driving. Motorists must also show auto insurance proof at the time of an accident, even if they are not at fault for causing the accident. If you are re pulled over and cannot prove you have liability insurance, you run the risk of a minimum $500 fine. In addition, points will be placed on your motor vehicle record, which cause your auto insurance premiums to increase.

Uninsured/underinsured motorist

In Colorado, you are not required to carry uninsured/underinsured motorist (UM/UIM) coverage; however, all insurance companies are required to offer UM/UIM insurance in an amount equal to your bodily injury coverage or $100,000 per person and $300,000 per accident, whichever is less. While UM/UIM insurance is not mandatory, Coloradans should think seriously about having this coverage, as the costs of being in an accident with an uninsured/underinsured motorist could leave one exposed to serious financial consequences.

UM/UIM provides coverage if you are injured by a motorist who:

  • Leaves the scene of the accident, or
  • Is uninsured, or
  • Is underinsured, meaning that they do not have a policy limit coverage high enough to cover your injuries

Comprehensive and collision

While Colorado law requires that collision coverage be offered by an insurance company, it is not a requirement. If you financed your vehicle however, your lender may require you to carry this coverage until the loan is paid in full.

Leasing an automobile in Colorado

If you plan to lease an automobile, you should check your lease agreement. Generally, lease agreements require that you carry liability coverage in the amount of $100,000 per person, $300,000 per accident. Also, you may be required to carry property damage coverage in excess of the Colorado Insurance Law.

Rental car

In Colorado if you drive a rental car you are still required to have the mandatory minimum required insurance.  If you are stopped by a law enforcement officer you must provide proof of insurance.

Colorado – a tort state

In 2003, Colorado, which had previously been a no-fault auto insurance state, switched to a tort-based system.

As a tort liability state, in Colorado, this means that the at-fault driver in a car crash must pay a victim’s medical bills and rehabilitation costs. The at-fault driver, in addition to being responsible to pay vehicle damages to you, is also responsible for paying  medical costs, pain and suffering and loss of wages as a result of the accident they caused. If you are in an accident and found not to be at fault, the passengers in your vehicle as well the passengers in the at-fault driver’s auto may also sue for their medical expenses, their pain and their suffering, as well as any loss of wages.

Letting your insurance lapse

Once you have gone without insurance for any period of time you may find it difficult to find insurance you can afford. Many companies do not insure people who have not had insurance or have allowed their insurance to lapse. Other companies will simply charge you more for insurance.

Going without insurance can cost you much more than carrying the liability coverage required by Colorado law.

Average annual cost of insurance

According to Insure.com, the 2011 average annual premium for Colorado auto insurance is $1,508, slightly lower than the national average of $1,561.

 

Resources

Insurance Information Institute www.iii.org
Consumers Guide to Auto Insurance
www.dora.state.co.us/insurance/pb/supporting%20documents/autoins04.pdf
Colorado DORA Division of Insurance
Tel 303-894-7499
Web www.dora.state.co.us/insurance