Iowa Car Insurance Driver’s Guide [Coverages + Advice]
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UPDATED: Jun 17, 2021
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|Miles of Roadway||114,442
|Most Popular Vehicle||Silverado 1500|
|Uninsured Motorist Rate||8.7 %
State Rank: 38th
|Total Driving Related Deaths in 2017||1,517|
|Speeding Fatalities in 2017||600|
|DUI Fatalities in 2017||917|
|Average Car Insurance Cost||Liability: $299.18
Iowa is known for its rolling fields, diverse economies, and Des Moines (recently rated the fifth-best place to live in the U.S.).
Whether you’re cruising downtown or along farmland, car insurance is critical for all Iowans.
Protection in case of an accident should be on every drivers mind. But, with so many competing companies all claiming to offer the best coverage (and what even is comprehensive coverage?) you may find yourself lost in the proverbial corn maze.
That’s where we come in. You’ve come to a complete guide to everything you need to ensure you have the best insurance coverage in Iowa.
We’ll go over laws, company reviews, important statistics and much more. Stick with us and you’ll gain all the tools to stay safe and save money.
If you want to get right to comparing quotes, enter your ZIP code in our free tool above to get started.
Iowa Car Insurance Coverage and Rates
Iowan drivers have to be on the lookout for accidents involving other drivers and even nature itself. Iowa is one of the top 10 states for hailfall each year. You might be wondering — is my car protected?
Or trying to figure out which car insurance plan best fits your budget and needs. With so many forms of insurance, it can be confusing to figure out what you actually are (or should be) paying for.
In this section, you’ll learn about all the different kinds of car insurance coverages, Iowa’s car culture, and how premiums get calculated.
Iowa’s Car Culture
Iowans are privileged to have some of the most scenic roadways in America.
What’s more, drivers in Iowa stay pragmatic when it comes to their cars: many are well-maintained older models or are used primarily for travel rather than looks. A lot of Iowans upkeep their engines themselves rather than use mechanics.
But, in certain parts of Iowa, you are likely to see some highly-personalized wheels out on the road from custom rims to flashy paint schemes.
Speaking of trucks, pick-ups are the most popular vehicle type in Iowa.
Iowa Minimum Coverage
According to the Iowa Insurance Division and AAA, in Iowa, the minimum insurance coverage is 20/40/15 . That means drivers are required to have:
- $20,000 for bodily injury or death of one person
- $40,000 for the bodily injuries or deaths of more than one person
- $15,000 for the injury to or destruction of property
These funds come into action if you are found at-fault in an accident, combined they are called liability insurance.
If you are found at-fault, you’re legally financially responsible for all damages.
If there are damages beyond what liability coverage offers, you’ll have to pay out of pocket the difference. That’s why more extensive coverage can save the day if you are in a serious crash.
According to the Motor Vehicle Financial and Safety Act, car insurance in Iowa is not mandated. Nolo, a legal authority, notes that you can comply with the minimum insurance requirements in other ways. A few are:
- Posting a bond with the Driver & Identification Services
- Getting a legal release from other drivers or those involved in the accident
- Being found not liable in a civil suit
- Paying for the damages in an installment plan
Even though minimums aren’t required in Iowa, it’s still a good idea to get coverage to protect you from any possible financial losses down the line.
Forms of Financial Responsibility
By forms of financial responsibility, we mean forms proving a driver has insurance. As the Iowa government writes about insurance certificates,
“Such certificate shall give the effective date of such motor vehicle liability policy, which date shall be the same as the effective date of the certificate, and shall designate by explicit description or by appropriate reference all motor vehicles covered.”
Iowan drivers have three options:
- A valid physical version of your liability card (your insurance card)
- An electronic copy of your insurance card
- Insurance binder (a temporary form of car insurance)
If you’re a high-risk driver, things become a little more complicated as you’ll need an SR-22 (we’ll go into what this means and how to get it later on). Also, you may run into some extra hurdles if you decide to show proof of insurance through a bond.
Premiums as a Percentage of Income
We, here at Compare Car Insurance know that the most important thing on many drivers’ minds when it comes to insurance is cost. It can be a bummer to spend a considerable amount of the money you make each month to insurance companies, but coverage is very important.
To help you get a better idea of what’s normal to pay, we’ve compiled the data on what percentage of Iowan’s incomes go towards auto insurance.
|Insurance as % of income||2012||2013||2014|
Lucky for Iowans, on average you pay a considerably lower percentage of income on premiums compared to the rest of the country.
Compared to three of your neighboring states, Iowa has the lowest rates as well. If you’d like to see how much of your income goes towards premiums, try out this handy calculator.
The main components of core coverage are liability, collision, comprehensive, and full coverage (meaning you have all the listed coverages).
As we mentioned above, Iowans pay less than the average coverage for the rest of the nation.
|CORE COVERAGE INSURANCE COSTS||IOWA||NATIONAL AVERAGE|
Next, we’ll move onto what those extra coverages mean and how much they cost. Most policies let you pick and chose different options to fit your needs or decide what add-ons you may need.
Three of the most popular additional coverages are personal injury protection (PIP), medical payments (MedPay), and uninsured/underinsured motorist (UM/UIM).
- PIP: reimburses you for medical bills and lost wages if you in an accident
- Med Pay: reimburses you for medical bills
- UM/UIM: pays for damages to your car if you are hit by an uninsured/underinsured motorist.
According to the Insurance Information Institute, 8.7 percent of Iowa’s drivers are uninsured, ranking the state 38th in the country. All of these additional coverages are useful in different situations, but how do you know your insurer will pay you for the coverage you have?
By looking at loss ratio, consumers can get a better picture of whether or not companies are paying. Here’s how Iowa stacked up in 2016.
Loss ratio is calculated by looking at what a company is paying out divided by the number of premiums a company has written.
- Anything between 0.6 and 0.8 is a good sign.
- Anything below 0.5 means a company might not be paying out claims.
- If loss ratio is over 1, the company is losing money.
These numbers come from the National Association of Insurance Commissioners, which is a leading authority in the insurance field. If you’re still confused, here’s a video breaking it down.
In general, the loss ratios for MedPay and UM/UIM are quite good in Iowa.
Add-ons, Endorsements, and Riders
Here’s a list of some of the most popular add-ons and extras to ensure you are protected on the road.
- Guaranteed Auto Protection (GAP)
- Personal Umbrella Policy (PUP)
- Rental Reimbursement
- Emergency Roadside Assistance
- Mechanical Breakdown Insurance
- Non-Owner Car Insurance
- Modified Car Insurance Coverage
- Classic Car Insurance
Once you’ve decided on an insurance provider, you can talk to your agent about your unique needs. From there, your agent will apply the necessary extra coverages to your policy and go over any associated costs.
Male vs. Female Rates
So, you get a policy quote, or your monthly insurance bill comes and you may be wondering: what does this number mean?
In this section, we’ll cover all the factors that impact your rates. From gender to location and even credit history, more than you may think goes into determining how much you pay.
Two of the biggest factors in deciding rates are age and gender.
Males, who are considered to be riskier drivers statistically, often face higher rates.
According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, “Men typically drive more miles than women and more often engage in risky driving practices including not using safety belts, driving while impaired by alcohol, and speeding.”
Thus, men usually see higher rates.
The table below compares rates for several age groups across gender lines in Iowa. Unsurprisingly, teenagers who have the least experience on the road have the highest rates.
Some good news though, if you are married, you will most likely see a rate decrease. So say thank you to your spouse for the extra savings.
Insurance companies believe married people are more settled and less likely to take risks on the road, plus they tend to be more financially secure.
The following are provided by Quadrant, an insider in the insurance industry.
|COMPANY||MARRIED 35-YEAR OLD FEMALE||MARRIED 35-YEAR OLD MALE||MARRIED 60-YEAR OLD FEMALE||MARRIED 60-YEAR OLD MALE||SINGLE 17-YEAR OLD FEMALE||SINGLE 17-YEAR OLD MALE||SINGLE 25-YEAR OLD FEMALE||SINGLE 25-YEAR OLD MALE|
|American Family Mutual||$1,947.49||$1,947.49||$1,742.43||$1,742.43||$5,205.52||$7,296.86||$1,947.49||$2,345.27|
17-year-old males with Travelers face the highest rates: over $17,000.
On the opposite end of the spectrum, 60-year-old females with USAA have the lowest premiums: around $1,100.
For those folks who think this could be discriminatory, you’re not alone. More and more people are calling for an end to demographic factors determining car insurance rates.
For instance, California is the sixth US state to ban using gender to determine rates, according to the New York Times. But for now, Iowans still face gender as a major player in how much you pay.
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Best Iowa Car Insurance Companies
You may love your insurance company (or not). The customer service may be wonderful or riddled with rude agents and difficult claims processes. Either way, you may be wondering: is there a better, more affordable option out there?
This section is all about comparing the service of major companies in Iowa, from customer satisfaction to ease of the claims process. We’ve compiled all the stats you’ll need to make an informed decision whether you are just getting a policy or looking for a new alternative.
The Largest Companies Financial Rating
One of the most important factors to consider when finalizing your choice of insurer is the financial strength of the insurer.
Of course, it can seem impossible to gather all the data and understanding to find which companies are stable or not. Luckily, we’ve compiled the financial ratings provided by A.M. Credit Ratings for you.
A.M Credit Ratings in one of the top credit rating agency in the insurance industry.
A sound financial rating ensures your insurer has the financial strength to settle future claim obligations.
Good news for Iowans, each company is rated A or higher. The A rating, according to AM Best’s ranking explanations, means the company has “an excellent ability to meet ongoing insurance obligations.”
Companies with Best Ratings
While knowing the financial strength of your insurer is important; many customers want to know how happy other people are with an insurer. To get the clearest picture of customer satisfaction, we turn to J.D. Power, a trusted source that conducts a study every year to determine customer satisfaction.
The following graph is from the Central Region, which includes Iowa and other Midwestern states.
USAA is the top-rated company, with a 907 score. However, because it serves only members of the military and their families, it is not included in the overall list.
Of the biggest companies in Iowa, Allstate is the top, then Geico and Travelers. At the bottom are Farmers and Nationwide.
Companies with Most Complaints in Iowa
The National Association of Insurance Commissioners also looks at customer complaints. This index compares a company’s total complaints versus the number of total premiums written.
The lower the complaint index the better.
|COMPANY||COMPLAINT INDEX||TOTAL COMPLAINTS|
Travelers has the lowest complaint index with .09, just having two complaints. The highest ratio is Safeco with 1.68, having 124 complaints.
Shockingly, Nationwide, rated near the bottom for customer satisfaction by the J.D. Power study, has the second-lowest complaint index at .28.
State Farm, with 1,482 complaints, is third-lowest at .44. It has the most complaints but also writes the most premiums.
Cheapest Companies in Iowa
No matter what state you’re in, shopping around for quotes can save you thousands of dollars a year. In Iowa, the gap between the most expensive and cheapest companies is quite large.
|COMPANY||AVERAGE PREMIUM||COMPARED TO STATE AVERAGE (+/-)||COMPARED TO STATE AVERAGE (%)|
These numbers are quite similar to the ones shown in our Iowa’s rates by demographic tables.
- The company with the lowest average premium: USAA ($1,852), nearly 60 percent below the average.
- The company with the highest average premium: Travelers ($5,425), about 45 percent above average.
- The median: Allstate with a $2,965 average premium.
So why are the rates so different? Several factors come into play.
- Competition: Each company is trying to find the right price point to attract customers
- The cost of doing business: Depending on size and overall premiums written, some companies might need more money to operate
- The customers themselves: Customers require different limits and coverages
Often the companies with lower-cost premiums do more business, as it is more appealing to pay less for car insurance.
Commute Rates by Companies
Aside from causing headaches and making you late to work, commute time can also affect your insurance rates.
The simple reason is that insurance companies believe the more you drive, the more likely you are to get into accidents, get a ticket, or file a claim.
|Group||Annual Average for 10 mile commute (6000 annual mileage)||Annual Average for 25 mile commute (12000 annual mileage)|
Of these 10 companies, five change their rates according to commute rate or average mileage.
All these inflations are roughly between $70 and $130, the two most expensive changes coming from USAA and Allstate.
If you have a long commute, maybe consider American Family, which offers the lowest rate increase.
Coverage Level Rates by Companies
Depending on your coverage limits and additional coverages, premium prices can vary greatly.
Most drivers assume that more coverage means a higher premium. While this is a good rule of thumb, the price difference can be drastically different depending on the company you choose.
That’s why its so important to compare prices between companies and see where you’ll get the most bang for your buck.
|GROUP||LOW COVERAGE||MEDIUM COVERAGE||HIGH COVERAGE|
The company with the largest difference in cost is Travelers with a $560 difference between the least and most expensive coverage options.
The company with the smallest difference: Geico, with just a $110 difference.
Credit History Rates by Companies
Your credit score affects a lot of the financial options you have in the modern world. From home loans to car payments and even deciding whether or not you can rent an apartment: this number matters.
And, it also affects insurance rates.
According to Consumer Reports, rates can fluctuate wildly depending on your credit score. Drivers with a good score can end up saving thousands of dollars.
Liberty Mutual charges drivers with a poor credit score up to $3,200 more. So depending on where your score sits, this is worth taking into account.
Farmers only varies by $600.
On average, drivers with poor credit scores pay $1,250 more than drivers with good credit.
Driving Record Rates by Companies
Another major factor in how much you pay is your driving record. Safe, law-abiding drivers end up saving a huge chunk of change. Whereas drivers with violations can end up with skyrocketing premiums. our
But, mistakes happen. We understand. That’s why it’s important to look at how your record affects different company’s premiums.
|Company||Clean record||With 1 speeding violation||With 1 accident||With 1 DUI|
Travelers and Liberty Mutual are the most expensive companies across the board for drivers with spotty records. USAA, Geico, State Farm, Nationwide, Farmers all offer similar pricing.
Here are the cheapest companies for each infraction, eliminating USAA (as they only service military, though it’s generally the most inexpensive).
- The cheapest company for one DUI: Progressive at $2,100
- The cheapest company for one accident: State Farm at $2,400
- The cheapest company for one speeding ticket: Geico at $1,865
Keep these figures in mind when looking for a policy if you have any of these violations on your record.
Largest Car Insurance Companies in Iowa
Next, we’ll compare the companies with the largest market shares in Iowa.
|GROUP||DIRECT PREMIUMS WRITTEN||LOSS RATIO||MARKET SHARE|
|State Farm Group||$389,032||63.96||22.14%|
|Nationwide Corp Group||$180,621||51.49||10.28%|
|Iowa Farm Bureau Group||$119,308||67.98||6.79%|
|American Family Insurance Group||$111,227||69.86||6.33%|
|Grinnell Mutual Group||$78,945||71.86||4.49%|
|IMT Mutual Holding Group||$57,498||70.27||3.27%|
|Allstate Insurance Group||$56,702||60.7||3.23%|
|West Bend Mutual Insurance Co||$38,498||58.38||2.19%|
State Farm, Progressive, Nationwide, and American Family all have a high percentage of the market share.
Travelers and Liberty Mutual, who offer the highest-priced plans we’ve seen, don’t even make the list.
Number of Insurers by Iowa
Iowa has 73 domestic insurers and 860 foreign. What does that mean?
When most people think of foreign, they think of other countries. But in the insurance world, it’s a little different.
A domestic insurer was founded and has headquarters located in the state. Think of mom and pop or smaller insurance companies.
A foreign insurer is any company that does business outside the state. Think of big companies like State Farms or Geico.
With so many laws affecting licensing, driving, and even insurance, things can get overwhelming.
In this next section, we’ll make it simple. Here are all the relevant laws to keep in mind when driving in Iowa.
Following these rules and regulations can end up saving you a lot of money in the long run as we’ve seen earlier.
Want to see if you qualify for a safe driver discount? Check out this article to learn how you can save even more on premiums.
Car Insurance Laws
According to the National Association of Insurance Commissioners, states decide the type of tort rule applicable, the minimum liability insurance required, and the system of approval for insurers.
In Iowa, the Iowa Insurance Division is the main regulator of auto insurance.
The National Association of Insurance Commissioners states Iowan insurers can use and file insurance rates with the Iowa Insurance Division.
There are few feelings worse than a rock hitting your windshield and hearing that awful crack.
If you are in this situation you may wonder what laws in Iowa determine repair and replacement?
CarWindshields.info researches windshield replacement laws in each state. There’s nothing particularly special about Iowa, according to them, compared to other states in terms of replacement regulations.
Iowans can be sure they’ll get new parts, as code Iowa 191-15.45 specifically excludes windshields being replaced with after-market products.
“. . . you can insist on OEM parts, but may have to pay the difference. . .”
Some drivers incur more violations than usual, if this is the case they may need to get high-risk insurance. If you’re an Iowan resident who:
- Has too many moving violations
- Gets caught driving without insurance
- Has an OWI
You will need to get an SR-22. This is a certificate of insurance for high-risk drivers. According to the Iowa Department of Transportation, the SR-22 must be filed by your insurance company.
This process goes through Driver & Identification Services. The SR-22 likely costs extra, as it signals you are a high-risk driver.
If your insurance company refuses to provide you insurance and you can’t find a policy option, you can try the Iowa Automobile Insurance Plan.
Currently, Iowa does not offer any state-funded insurance programs for low-income drivers.
While Iowa does provide other options (like not carrying formal insurance) these are riskier than being insured at the minimum level.
The best way to ensure low rates is to shop around and choose a minimum level of coverage.
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Automobile Insurance Fraud in Iowa
According to the Insurance Information Institute, fraud accounts for 10 percent of the property and casualty insurance industry’s losses.
From 2013 – 2017, that amounted to $30 billion per year. Fraud occurs within all sides of the process: customers, insurance providers, and agents.
Iowa takes fraud seriously. The penalties for committing fraud are steep.
For the claimant or salesperson, the penalty for committing fraud is a Class D Felony, according to document 507E of the state legislature.
According to FindLaw, this comes with a penalty of up to five years in prison, along with a fine between $750 – $7,500.
- Some examples of fraud for the claimant: false proofs of loss, medical records, invoices, accounts, and estimations of property damage.
- Some examples for the salesperson: suppression of facts, misrepresentation of facts, and employing deception with intent to defraud.
Statute of Limitations
In Iowa, there are two deadlines to file a civil suit or claim; one for suffering an injury and one for damages. These are called statutes of limitations.
Iowa Specific Laws
Iowa has a few unusual laws, according to 94.1 KRNA, such as prohibiting throwing bricks on highways and the Ice Cream Man, but they are only loosely related to car insurance.
Vehicle Licensing Laws
Knowing when and how you are required to get a license is important to avoid fees and possible violations on your record.
In this section, we cover everything for teen driver laws to license renewal procedures.
Here we go!
Congress enacted the Real ID Act in 2005 to increase national security.
According to the Department of Homeland Security, the Act, “establishes minimum security standards for license issuance.”
This means licenses from states need to meet the security standards to fly domestically or enter a federal building.
REAL ID has caused a great deal of controversy, with some opponents speaking out the problems it will cause for immigrants.
And according to the ACLU, Homeland Security underestimated how much money it would cost for states.
What does this mean for Iowans? Iowa is one of the 47 states that are REAL ID–compliant, meaning you can get a REAL ID at your local driving center.
The Iowa Department of Transportation a page on its website outlining how to apply and receive a Real ID. According to the Iowa Department of Transportation, the process is the same as getting a regular driver’s license.
It writes, “If your license or ID will expire before October 1, 2020, you can just wait until it’s time to renew and do it then.”
It is not currently possible to get a Real ID from a kiosk or online renewal.
REAL ID will have a major impact on domestic flights starting October 1, 2020, as the TSA won’t take your old license as a form of identification.
Penalties for Driving Without Insurance
Iowa is very strict when it comes to driving without insurance. If you are:
- Found driving without insurance in an accident: a fine of $500, possible license suspension
- Found driving without insurance but not in an accident: a fine is $250, possible community service.
For a second infraction, it’s possible the government will remove your plates and registration, which will be reissued when you pay the fine or finish community service.
There is also the possibility of your vehicle being impounded.
Because of Iowa’s law, it is possible to drive without proof of insurance and not receive as harsh of a penalty compared to other states.
However, according to Puryear Law, if you’re in an accident and convicted of driving without insurance, the state may suspend your license and force you to get an SR-22.
Teen Driver Laws
In Iowa, teen drivers face regulations as to when you can get your license, how much practice you need, and added driving restrictions.
|MINIMUM AGE||MANDATORY HOLDING PERIOD||MINIMUM AMOUNT OF SUPERVISED DRIVING||MINIMUM AGE FOR DL|
|14||12 months||20 hours; two at night||16|
The earliest age you can apply for a learner’s permit is 14. From there, you face a mandatory waiting period of 12 months before being allowed to apply for a driver’s license.
The minimum age to get a license is 16.
|UNSUPERVISED DRIVING PROHIBITED||RESTRICTIONS ON PASSENGERS||NIGHTTIME RESTRICTIONS|
|12:30 am - 5 am||Parental discretion||12 months and age 17 or when the driver turns 18|
After receiving a driver’s license, there are some additional restrictions.
Unsupervised nighttime driving is also in the dead of night, one of the most dangerous times to drive for all age groups.
Older Driver License Renewal Procedures
In Iowa, older drivers face some extra challenges when renewing their licenses.
|RENEWAL CYCLE||PROOF OF ADEQUATE VISION REQUIRED||MAIL/ONLINE RENEWAL PERMITTED|
|2 years for people 72 and older||Every renewal for people 70 and older||After 70, no|
For drivers 72 or older, renewal is mandatory every two years. A vision test is required at each renewal, and renewal must be completed in-person.
As NOLO notes, older drivers may be subject to knowledge or road tests if under investigation for unsafe driving or after changes to their health.
Iowan government may also add restrictions or modifications to a senior’s driving, such as:
- Wearing eyeglasses or contacts
- No driving at night
- Having an additional right-side mirror
The Iowa Department of Transportation wrote a piece on older drivers including facts about seniors, mobility, and driving.
Before you hit the roads of your new home state, you’ll need to get a few things in order.
Here’s a page from the Iowa DOT to help you get started towards an Iowa driver’s license. You’ll need a few things:
- Proof of identity and residency
- Proof of social security number
- Pass a vision test
- Pay fees
You have 30 days upon moving to Iowa to get Iowan vehicle registration. To do so, you can take these documents to the Iowa Treasurer’s office:
- Certificate of ownership
- A completed application for registration
Then, you’re set to go.
License renewal procedures
According to the Iowa Department of Transportation, drivers under the age of 66 can get a license valid for eight-years.
|Younger than 17 years and 11 months||Two years|
|Older than 17 years and 11 months through 66 years||Eight years|
|67 years||Seven years|
|68 years||Six years|
|69 years||Five years|
|70 years||Four years|
|71 years||Three years|
|72 years and older||Two years|
Drivers can renew online by visiting the Department of Transportation website. However, if you would like to get a REAL ID-compliant driver’s license, you will have to visit a DOT service center near you in-person.
Rules of the Road
The rules of the road not only keep you and others safe, but they also help you maintain a clean driving road.
And as we’ve seen, a clean driving record can mean serious discounts on your car insurance premium.
In this section, we’ll cover all the relevant rules and regulations for Iowa.
Fault vs. No-Fault
Iowa is an “at-fault state,” also known as a tort state. At-fault means that whoever is deemed responsible for the accident is financially responsible.
Iowa is also a modified comparative fault state, this means a person must show the other driver is more responsible for the accident in order to avoid liability and prove fault.
Once a driver is found at-fault in an accident, they become responsible for all damages due to the accident — both for their vehicle and the other drivers’.
This also means any costs of physical injuries to the other driver or passengers.
In Iowa (like many other states) you may take someone to court over a car accident. This is why having insurance coverage is so important to keep your financial status safe. Even minor accidents can cost up to hundreds of dollars in damages.
Seat belt and car seat laws
Seatbelts and airbags have been proven to be critical for passenger safety in case of an accident.
According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS), driver and front-seat passengers of age 18 years and older should wear seat belts.
If found violating this rule, the police can issue a $25 fine.
In Iowa seabelt usage is falls under Primary enforcement – meaning the police can stop and fine you for not wearing a seat belt without other cause.
To keep little ones safe, here are a few tips on how to properly install infant car seats:
Children below the age of one or who weigh less than 20 pounds should be in a rear-facing child restraint seat. For older children, between one and five, they should be in a child restraint or a booster seat.
Children between the age of 6-17 may use adult seat belts.
It is the driver’s responsibility to fasten children’s safety restraints before driving.
Keep Right and Move Over Laws
In Iowa, rules for slow drivers are simple: keep right when driving slower than the speed of traffic.
Iowa DOT also reports drivers must move over if there’s a police officer or other emergency vehicle with flashing lights on the side of the road. If caught violating these rules, the fine is $100 plus court costs.
Iowa’s general speed limits are below. Following the speed limit saves lives.
|Type of Road||Speed Limit (mph)|
|Other limited access roads||70|
Some roads do not follow this guide, please adhere to the road signs for the specified speed limits to avoid ticketing and stay safe.
Rideshare has become increasingly popular in the last few years. If you are a driver, you may wonder about your insurance, with questions like:
- Does my insurance company cover me in an accident?
- Is liability insurance enough?
- Can I get an extra amount of protection?
In Iowa, rideshare drivers have three options for insurance while working: Farmers, State Farm, and USAA.
Each offers unique packages. When talking to an agent, ask questions about usage, cost, and coverage.
Many coverages only come into effect under certain conditions —if you have a passenger in the car, for instance.
Some companies offer usage-based plans, in which case you’ll pay only for driving done when you’re logged into the app. Extra coverage never hurts in case of an accident.
Automation on the Road
University of Iowa’s National Advanced Driving Simulator tests automated vehicles for deployment. The facility is one of 10 such facilities in the country.
In April 2019, Iowa’s Senate approved a bill to regulate autonomous vehicles on the roads.
According to the legislation, automated vehicles are required to follow all current motor vehicle laws, and vehicle owners are required to have liability insurance.
In this section, we focus on how to stay safe, and what happens in the event of being caught driving dangerously in the Hawkeye State.
According to Responsibility.org, in 2017 Iowa had 88 alcohol-related driving fatalities.
In comparison to the national average, Iowa’s fatality rate is quite low. Perhaps because of the stiff penalties in place.
Here are the penalties associated with DUIs in Iowa:
|FIRST||180 days but may apply for temporary restricted license; if crash occurred or BAC > .10, must install IID||48 hours-up to 1 year; min 48 hours may be served in OWI program with law enforcement security||$625 up to $1250 OR community service||Must complete substance abuse evaluation and treatment program and might be assigend a reality education substance abuse prevention program|
|SECOND||2 years, not eligible for temporary restricted license for 45 days||7 days - 2 years||$1875-$6250||Must complete substance abuse evaluation and treatment program and might be assigend a reality education substance abuse prevention program|
|THIRD||6 years, not eligible for temporary restricted license for 45 dayse||30 days-5 years||$3125-$9375||Must complete substance abuse evaluation and treatment program and might be assigend a reality education substance abuse prevention program|
In Iowa, the lookback period for a DUI offense is 12 years.
According to responsibility.org, a lookback period means the length of time during which repeated offenses are counted as subsequent offense and lead to harsher penalties.
Marijuana-Impaired Driving Laws
As per responsibility.org, Iowa has a zero-tolerance policy for THC impaired driving. If caught driving under the influence of THC, you will attract similar punishments under the DUI law.
However, marijuana can lead to high penalties even if you have not consumed it when caught for a DUI:
Even if you have used marijuana week before, police can still charge you for DUI using a urine test, as marijuana remains in your system long after you used it.
Therefore, even if you were not high at the time, but police can still charge you with a DUI.
Distracted Driving Laws
Distracted driving can be a major hazard on the road.
Statistically, 64 percent of all car accidents in the nation involve cell phone usage.
For Iowans, it is illegal to text while driving for all drivers, though adult drivers are allowed to use handheld devices for calls.
Driving Safely in Iowa
Next up we’ll look at rates of vehicle theft, fatalities, and traffic congestion in your neighborhood to give you a full picture of driving in Iowa.
Vehicle Theft in Iowa
Certain cars are more likely to be stolen than others in Iowa. A Chevy Pickup sits atop the list.
|Make and Model||Most Stolen Model Year||Number of Vehicles Stolen|
|Chevrolet Pickup (Full Size)||265||2005|
|Ford Pickup (Full Size)||223||2005|
|Dodge Pickup (Full Size)||135||2001|
|Jeep Cherokee/Grand Cherokee||79||1999|
|Pontiac Grand Prix||68||2004|
As per the National Insurance Crime Bureau, in 2016, a total of 265 Chevrolet Pickups were stolen in state and the most stolen model year for the car was 2005.
Below, you can look at car theft data by city from the FBI:
|CITY||MOTOR VEHICLE THEFT|
Usually, urban centers have higher rates of vehicle theft than rural places. This is due to the increased numbers of people and vehicles to be stolen.
In Iowa, Des Moines, Cedar Rapids, and Sioux City have some of the highest annual totals.
Road Fatalities in Iowa
Unfortunately, road fatalities happen daily. A number of factors come into play that make certain roads and times of day more dangerous than others, just to name a few: weather conditions, speeding, driving while intoxicated, and EMS response times.
In this section, we’ll give you all the information to hopefully stay safe as can be.
Everything from the most-fatal highway in Iowa to the five-year fatalities trend for the five most-populous counties.
Most fatal highway in Iowa
Highway is I-80 ranks number one in terms of dangerous roadways in the Hawkeye State. Annually, this highway sees:
- 0.6 fatal crash rate
- Over 15 fatal crashes per year
Trooper Bob Conrad told Fox28, I-80 “…never sleeps.” He says, “morning, afternoon, or nighttime, you’ve got to have your guard up.”
I-80 is also one of the transcontinental highways that cross Iowa, with plenty of tired drivers heading to destinations throughout the country.
Fatal Crashes by Weather Condition and Light Condition
Weather can also affect driving conditions. Sleet, snow, rain, and darkness can obstruct visibility and lead to fatal crashes.
|Weather Condition||Daylight||Dark, but Lighted||Dark||Dawn or Dusk||Other / Unknown||Total|
Even though more accidents happen in the daytime, in comparison to the number of drivers on the road at night, darkness seriously affects fatality rates.
Pines Salomon Injury Lawyers notes, “Despite 60 percent less traffic on the roads, more than 40 percent of all fatal car accidents occur at night.”
Fatalities (All Crashes) by County
In this next table, you can search for the average number of fatalities in your county. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, Polk County saw the highest total number of fatalities in 2017.
|Black Hawk County||12||5||10||11||8||46|
|Buena Vista County||2||6||3||2||1||14|
|Cerro Gordo County||3||6||7||6||12||34|
|Des Moines County||4||2||4||5||3||18|
|O Brien County||2||0||4||1||0||7|
|Palo Alto County||0||3||0||0||4||7|
|Van Buren County||0||0||0||2||1||3|
All of the counties with the highest fatalities are the ones with the major cities (Des Moines, Sioux City, others).
Generally, more fatal crashes happen in rural areas than urban ones, due to open roads, natural obstructions, and tired or distracted drivers. How about in Iowa?
Four out of five fatal crashes happen in rural areas in Iowa. Even though just one-third of the population lives in rural areas, the numbers are hugely skewed. Stay aware when driving in the country.
Dolman Law Group posed several reasons for the larger number of fatal crashes that happen in rural areas.
- Speed limits: They are generally higher in rural areas
- Dangerous roads: windy, tricky roads in rural areas
- Alcohol use: no public transport to safely get someone home
- Not wearing a seat belt: fewer people wear them in rural areas
EMS times being longer in rural areas may also affect this, as drivers in critical condition take longer to reach medical attention.
Fatalities by Person Type
Next, we’ll break down fatal crashes by the person type.
|Light Truck - Pickup||38||53||71||53||54||269|
|Light Truck - Utility||43||32||42||54||42||213|
|Light Truck - Van||26||17||12||32||17||104|
|Light Truck - Other||0||1||0||0||0||1|
|Bicyclist and Other Cyclist||3||4||5||8||5||25|
Occupants of cars are at the highest risk of fatalities. Occupants of light trucks are close behind.
Motorcyclist fatalities are high as well; however, Iowa was ranked third nationally in terms of motorcycle ownership one motorcycle for every 18 people.
Fatalities by Crash Type
Here, we’ll look at crash type.
|Total Fatalities (All Crashes)||317||322||320||402||330|
|Involving a Large Truck||61||48||61||70||67|
|Involving a Rollover||109||110||115||110||124|
|Involving a Roadway Departure||185||208||185||231||207|
|Involving an Intersection (or Intersection Related)||78||85||102||113||85|
Of the almost 1,700 fatalities, 1,000 were categorized as roadway departures. This is reflected in the number of rural area deaths.
According to the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA), two-thirds of deaths on rural roads were categorized as roadway departures in 2016.
The FHWA goes further and says 28 percent of roadway departures occur on horizontal curves, when a driver is more likely leave their lane.
Please take extra caution when driving the curving rural roadways in the Hawkeye State.
Five-Year Trend For The Top 10 Counties
Here we’ll compare the top 10 Counties in Iowa fatality trends over five years.
|3||Cerro Gordo County||3||6||7||6||12||34|
|8||Black Hawk County||12||5||10||11||8||46|
|Sub Total 1||Top Ten Counties||113||111||124||151||122||621|
|Sub Total 2||All Other Counties||203||209||196||251||208||1067|
In total, these counties make up 600 of the 1,700 traffic fatalities in the area in 2017.
Cerro Gordo, Marshall, and Dubuque all show a steady rise in fatalities over this five-year period.
Fatalities Involving Speeding by County
Here, we will compare the number of deaths involving speeding by county. Again, you can use the search function to find your locale.
|Black Hawk County||1||1||3||4||1|
|Buena Vista County||0||0||0||0||0|
|Cerro Gordo County||1||0||1||0||9|
|Des Moines County||0||1||0||0||0|
|O Brien County||0||0||0||0||0|
|Palo Alto County||0||0||0||0||0|
|Van Buren County||0||0||0||0||0|
Cerro Gordo County had the highest total in 2017.
Fatalities in Crashes Involving an Alcohol-Impaired Driver by County
Alcohol-impaired drivers also make up a large portion of fatalities.
|Black Hawk County||3||1||2||1||1|
|Buena Vista County||0||1||1||0||0|
|Cerro Gordo County||1||1||0||2||8|
|Des Moines County||1||1||1||3||1|
|O Brien County||1||0||1||0||0|
|Palo Alto County||0||0||0||0||1|
|Van Buren County||0||0||0||0||0|
To learn more about the dangers of drinking and driving, check out this article.
Teen Drinking and Driving
Parents are often worried about the risk of their teen drinking and driving. As per the Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI), law enforcement arrested 71 teens in 2016 for DUI in Iowa.
However, some good news, Iowa has a lower teen DUI fatality rate than the rest of the nation. Responsibility.org reports that Iowa’s teen DUI fatality rate is 0.8 per 100,000. The national average is 1.2.
EMS Response Time
It’s important to know how quickly emergency medical services respond near where you live. How quickly do they respond in Iowa?
|LOCATION OF INCIDENT||TIME OF CRASH TO EMS NOTIFICATION||EMS NOTIFICATION TO EMS ARRIVAL||EMS ARRIVAL AT SCENE TO HOSPITAL ARRIVAL||TIME OF CRASH TO HOSPITAL ARRIVAL|
|Rural||9 minutes||14 minutes||29 minutes||47 minutes|
|Urban||2 minutes||5 minutes||18 minutes||24 minutes|
Overall, the numbers are positive, both rural and urban areas see response times under 50 minutes.
Unfortunately, the average rural response time is almost double the urban average.
Transportation in Iowa
Traffic and commute times can cause lost hours, missed meetings, and a rise in blood pressure.
What are the commute times in Iowa?
Thanks to data from datausa.io, we’ve got all the insights needed.
Your average Iowan drives to work alone and spends less time in commute than the national average.
The following graphs and data have been collected by Data USA, an organization with a team of data scientists putting together public data for state profiles.
Iowans households, just like the rest of the country are most likely to own two cars.
Slightly more Iowan households own three, four, and five cars than the national average.
Now, on to commute time. The average American commute is 25.5 minutes. How about in Iowa?
Iowan commute time averages at 18.4 minutes, a full seven minutes below the national average.
Most commutes take between five and 24 minutes. Only about 12 percent of drivers have commutes more than 35 minutes.
In general, Americans drive to work alone. In Iowa?
Yup! Over 80 percent of Iowans drive to work alone, even higher than the national average.
You’ve made it to the end. Great job. From here, you should be a certified master of the Iowan roads and insurance rates in the Hawkeye state.
If you’re ready to get started comparing rates, click below to get quotes and start saving.