Auto Insurance in Iowa


The Hawkeye State takes a tough stance against motorists who drink and drive. In Iowa, if you are caught driving while intoxicated or under the influence of other drugs, it is called Operating while Intoxicated (OWI). Iowans face severe penalties if you are caught driving and drinking.

Iowa’s OWI law and the Implied Consent Law

If you are stopped by a law enforcement official and asked to take a breath test or other allowable test as an indicator of your Blood Alcohol Content (BAC) and your BAC reveals .08 percent or more, the state of Iowa considers you legally intoxicated.

In addition to Iowa’s OWI law, Iowa also enforces what is known as an Implied Consent (IC) Law. According to Iowa’s IC law, any law enforcement officer can ask you to take a breath test if he or she perceives that you may be driving OWI. It is also permissible according to Iowa law for the officer to request that you submit to a urine or blood test. The law applies to non-residents of Iowa as well as to Iowans.

If a driver either refuses to take the test or fails after taking it, their license can be taken away immediately.

Here’s what may happen if you fail any of the permitted tests if you have been stopped for drinking and driving in Iowa:

  • You will receive an immediate notice of driver’s license revocation, with a 10-day temporary driving permit.
  • Your driver’s license may be revoked for six months to one year, depending on your prior driving record.
  • You will be mandated to complete a course for drivers who drink while driving.
  • You may be required to attend a substance abuse evaluation, which may or may not include treatment.

If you are asked to take a test and you refuse, at minimum your driver’s license will be revoked immediately (with a 10-day temporary driving permit), you will receive a 48 hour jail sentence if it is your first offense or a jail sentence of seven days for a second offense, a court OWI conviction and a potential one to year driver’s license depending on your prior driving re­cord. Additional penalties will be assessed as well as being required to attend related driving drunk courses and substance abuse evaluations, which may result in being required to seek treatment.


Mandatory insurance


Iowans are required by law to show proof of car insurance when registering their automobile. Iowa auto insurance laws make it mandatory 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 Iowa law is as follows:

  • $20,000 – bodily injury per person
  • $40,000 – bodily injury per accident
  • $15,000 – property damage per accident

If you have financed your vehicle through a commercial lender, the majority of lenders will make it mandatory that you carry adequate auto insurance coverage to protect their investment in your vehicle. If you allow your Iowa auto insurance to lapse, the lender will probably have your automobile insured, which will likely cause your premium to skyrocket. This is legal under Iowa law. Your lender can force you to pay the more expensive premium until you have purchased your own automobile insurance.

Proof of insurance

Iowans are required to have in their possession a valid auto insurance ID card. The auto insurance must meet the state of Iowa’s required minimum liability coverage. Drivers who fail to present their insurance card face potential fines and having their vehicle impounded.

If you are in an accident while driving uninsured or are stopped by a law enforcement official and are driving without auto insurance, you face having your driver’s license and vehicle registration suspended. Once you have the required auto insurance, to reinstate your license and registration you are required to pay a fee and submit a SR-22 to the Iowa DOT for a period of three years.

Letting your insurance lapse

Once you have gone without insurance for any period of time you may find it difficult to find affordable auto insurance. Many auto insurance companies will not insure people who 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 Iowa law.

Iowa legislators signed a new law that goes into effect on the 1st of July, 2011, prohibiting the following:

  • Reading
  • Writing
  • Text Messaging.

The legislation also makes it illegal for novice level teens behind the wheel in Iowa to use a cell phone while driving.

Average annual cost of insurance

According to, the 2011 average annual premium for Iowa auto insurance is among the cheapest in the nation. At $1,179, only seven states register as having lower annual auto insurance rates.



Iowa Insurance Division
Tel 515-281-5705
Tel 877-955-1212, Toll free consumer line