Iowa Car Insurance Guide [Rates + Cheap Coverage Guide]
Iowa Car Insurance Guide [Rates + Cheap Coverage Guide]
UPDATED: Jul 30, 2020
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Iowa Car Insurance Guide [Rates + Cheap Coverage Guide]
|Annual Road Miles||Total in State: 114,442|
Vehicle Miles Driven: 33,161 million
|Vehicles||Registered in State: 3,447,049|
Total Stolen: 4,342
|Most Popular Vehicle||Chevrolet Silverado 1500|
State Rank: 38th
|Total Driving Fatalities||2008-2017|
Drunk Driving: 917
|Average Premiums||Liability: $299.18|
|Cheapest Providers||USAA and State Farm Mutual Auto|
Iowa is an oft-overlooked state. The Hawkeye State has more adventure to it, however, than most drivers may realize. As you roam through the state, you’ll pass thriving towns, active farming communities, and historical sites, many of which reflect the history of chief Black Hawk, the man who gave the state his nickname.
If you’re going to do that much driving, though, you’re going to need car insurance.
Researching car insurance providers if far from easy. First, you have to break down the number of insurers there are in your state. Then, you have to compare their benefits, coverage, and costs. It can take hours just to scratch the surface.
This comprehensive guide to car insurance in Iowa will help you navigate discounts, loss ratios, the rule of the road, and more.
Ready to get started? Read on to learn more!
If you want to get an early start on your exploratory research, why not use our FREE online tool? Just enter your zip code, and you’ll be able to find affordable car insurance rates in your area.
Iowa Car Insurance Coverage and Rates
Car insurance all across the United States can be complicated to parse. That said, Iowa’s car insurance legalities and policies are a little more confusing to navigate. How can you tell what kind of coverage you need? The last thing you want to do is blow your budget on coverage that you’ll never use.
If you’re still figuring out what kind of car insurance is the best for you, never fear. In this section, we’ll touch on Iowa’s car insurance requirements and the different kinds of coverage you can use to protect yourself and your car.
Iowa’s Minimum Coverage
Let’s jump into the thick of it. Iowa doesn’t have a compulsory car insurance law in place. This means that, technically, you’re not required to have car insurance to drive on the road.
Don’t think you’re off the hook, though. Iowa does have the Motor Vehicle and Financial Safety Act in place. This means that, if you happen to get into an accident, you’re required to show law enforcement officials proof of financial responsibility.
Iowa requires you to hold a minimum liability insurance policy per the Motor Vehicle and Financial Safety Act. This insurance breaks down as follows:
- $20,000 for the injuries of a single party
- $40,000 for the injuries of more than one individual
- $15,000 for property damage
Note that these are only the minimum amounts the state of Iowa requires its drivers to operate with. If you drive without this coverage or otherwise don’t have a form of financial responsibility on hand, you could face serious consequences in the case of an accident.
Forms of Financial Responsibility
As mentioned, Iowa law requires you to hold a form of financial responsibility if you get into an accident on the road. But what, exactly, is a viable form within the state? Iowa law enforcement accepts the following in the case of an accident:
- Valid liability insurance ID cards
- A copy of your car’s current insurance policy
- A valid insurance binder
Alternatively, you can provide proof that you’ve paid a fee to the Driver and Identification Services of Iowa to avoid getting in trouble with law enforcement.
That said, there are some circumstances in which law enforcement will not require you to show a form of financial responsibility. These include:
- After an accident, your vehicle is still standing, stopped, or otherwise parked
- Another person was non-consensually operating your vehicle at the time of the accident
- You were the only person involved in the accident who suffered from injuries or property damage
All in all, it’s safe to keep a form of financial responsibility in your car, even if Iowa doesn’t legally require you to have vehicular coverage.
Premiums as a Percentage of Income
The cost of your insurance will come out of your per capita disposable income. That per capita disposable income consists of the amount of money you have available after you’ve paid your taxes for the year.
The average Iowa resident maintains a per capita disposable income of $38,820. On a monthly basis, then, Iowa residents have roughly $3,318 to spend on groceries, rent, utilities, and car insurance.
That’s a fair amount of pocket change until you consider the cost of living in Iowa. What percentage of income should drivers set aside for car insurance?
Iowa residents typically spend $683 on car insurance per year. That’s $56 out of the average monthly budget.
Iowa’s rates are, in fact, significantly lower than those available in other states across the U.S. This means it’s much easier for Iowa drivers to afford additional coverage.
Average Monthly Car Insurance Rates in IA (Liability, Collision, Comprehensive)
Speaking of additional coverage: not all car insurance plans are created equal. If you’re interested in investing in more than just minimum liability coverage, you’ll be able to look through a variety of plans, including those listed below.
|Coverage Type||Annual Costs (2015)|
Note that the above data comes from the NAIC’s 2015 report. Rates as of 2019 and beyond will be more expensive than those listed here.
|Medical Payments (Med Pay)||67%||68%||79%|
A loss ratio over 100 percent suggests a company will pay out on claims, but it may also not be as financially stable as it could be. Comparably, a loss ratio below 60 percent suggests that while a company may be financially stable, it won’t be as willing to pay out on driver claims.
Add-Ons, Endorsements, and Riders
You can explore additional, optional coverage by considering some of the add-ons below. Click on the available links to learn more:
- 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
- Pay-As-You-Drive or Usage-Based Insurance
Average Monthly Car Insurance Rates by Age & Gender in IA
There are several different rumors surrounding gender and car insurance rates. Some suggest women have to pay more for their coverage than men, while others accuse men of being reckless drivers. As you can see in the table below, there are variations in rates, but gender isn’t always the most significant variable:
|Company||Married 35-year old female||Married 35-year old male||Married 60-year old female||Married 60-year old male||Single 25-year old female||Single 25-year old male||Single 17-year old female||Single 17-year old male|
|American Family Mutual||$1,947.49||$1,947.49||$1,742.43||$1,742.43||$1,947.49||$2,345.27||$5,205.52||$7,296.86|
|Farmers Insurance Co||$1,505.56||$1,534.33||$1,348.08||$1,472.79||$2,038.46||$2,181.07||$4,551.35||$4,851.93|
|Nationwide Agribusiness Insurance||$1,773.80||$1,821.30||$1,580.35||$1,687.66||$2,007.84||$2,184.45||$4,078.71||$5,280.35|
|Safeco Insurance Co America||$2,110.02||$2,290.23||$1,856.34||$2,255.89||$2,390.92||$2,636.91||$10,248.60||$11,534.94|
|State Farm Mutual Auto||$1,445.98||$1,445.98||$1,270.07||$1,270.07||$1,625.39||$1,851.50||$3,914.70||$4,964.07|
|Travelers Home & Marine Ins Co||$2,442.49||$2,492.53||$2,373.90||$2,380.26||$2,541.28||$3,002.33||$10,858.60||$17,313.68|
Age contributes more to rate fluctuation than does gender. Young male drivers, for example, will pay far more for their car insurance coverage than older male drivers.
Iowa Car Insurance Companies
With the basics out of the way, we can move on and tackle the challenge that is all of Iowa’s potential providers. There are several vying for your attention, and it can be difficult to parse the best deal for you through the noise. You want great coverage and a great rate — but who’s going to give it to you?
Here, we’ve collected data on all of Iowa’s top car insurance providers. You’ll find their financial ratings, customer reviews, loss ratios, and comparable rates.
Ready to learn more? Then read on to figure out which car insurance provider will give you the best deal.
Let’s take a closer look at how ZIP codes affect car insurance in Iowa.
The Largest Companies’ Financial Ratings
A company’s financial ratings reflect their ability to meet consumer needs and to attend to consumer claims. You should look into your preferred provider’s financial rating if you’re worried about needing significant coverage in the future.
Here, we’ve gathered together data on Iowa’s top providers so you can see how the market shakes out:
|Company Name||AM Ratings||Direct Premiums Written||Loss Ratio||Market Share|
|Allstate Insurance Group||A+||$56,702||60.70%||3.23%|
|American Family Insurance Group||A||$111,227||69.86%||6.33%|
|Grinnell Mutual Group||A||$78,945||71.86%||4.49%|
|IMT Mutual Holding Group||NR||$57,498||70.27%||3.27%|
|Iowa Farm Bureau Group||NR||$119,308||67.98%||6.79%|
|Nationwide Corp Group||A+||$180,621||51.49%||10.28%|
|State Farm Group||A++||$389,032||63.96%||22.14%|
|West Bend Mutual Insurance Co||A||$38,498||58.38%||2.19%|
Remember, loss ratios aren’t perfect when they hit 100 percent. Instead, you’ll want to work with a company that’s somewhere between 60-80 percent, depending on your personal perspectives.
Companies with the Best Ratings
Customer service can make or break a car insurance provider. As you can see, this study presented by J.D. Power breaks down Iowa’s largest providers by their ability to meet consumer needs.
Geico is one of the larger car insurance providers with a strong customer satisfaction rating, but Shelter beats the pack.
Companies with the Most Complaints in Iowa
Who doesn’t want to hear a little gossip while shopping for car insurance? Take a look at the table below to see which of Iowa’s largest car insurance providers have received the most complaints over the years:
|Company||Complaint Ratio 2017||Total Complaints 2017|
|State Farm Group||0.44||1482|
|Allstate Insurance Group||0.98||163|
|Nationwide Corp Group||0.28||25|
|Iowa Farm Bureau Group||2.66||3|
|IMT Mutual Holding Group||2.42||1|
|American Family Insurance Group||0.0||0|
|Grinnell Mutual Group||0.0||0|
|West Bend Mutual Insurance Co||0||0|
Iowa Car Insurances Rates by Company
We know your budget is one of the biggest factors you have to consider when choosing a car insurance provider. That’s why we’ve gathered a list of the most affordable providers in Iowa for you to look through:
|Company||Average Cost||Amount Compared to State Average||Percentage Compared to State Average|
|State Farm Mutual Auto||$2,223.47||-$734.72||-33.04%|
|Farmers Insurance Co||$2,435.45||-$522.75||-21.46%|
|Nationwide Agribusiness Insurance||$2,551.81||-$406.39||-15.93%|
|American Family Mutual||$3,021.87||$63.67||2.11%|
|Safeco Insurance Co America||$4,415.48||$1,457.29||33.00%|
Commute Rates by Company
Some car insurance providers change your rates based on how much you drive during a year. An average mileage of 12,000 miles or more will typically raise your rate, but not always.
|Company||Commute Distance and Annual Mileage||Annual Average Rate|
|Allstate||10 miles commute. 6,000 annual mileage.||$2,894.65|
|Allstate||25 miles commute. 12,000 annual mileage.||$3,035.64|
|American Family||10 miles commute. 6,000 annual mileage.||$2,986.61|
|American Family||25 miles commute. 12,000 annual mileage.||$3,057.13|
|Farmers||10 miles commute. 6,000 annual mileage.||$2,435.45|
|Farmers||25 miles commute. 12,000 annual mileage.||$2,435.45|
|Geico||10 miles commute. 6,000 annual mileage.||$2,251.26|
|Geico||25 miles commute. 12,000 annual mileage.||$2,341.77|
|Liberty Mutual||10 miles commute. 6,000 annual mileage.||$4,415.48|
|Liberty Mutual||25 miles commute. 12,000 annual mileage.||$4,415.48|
|Nationwide||10 miles commute. 6,000 annual mileage.||$2,551.81|
|Nationwide||25 miles commute. 12,000 annual mileage.||$2,551.81|
|Progressive||10 miles commute. 6,000 annual mileage.||$2,394.23|
|Progressive||25 miles commute. 12,000 annual mileage.||$2,394.23|
|State Farm||10 miles commute. 6,000 annual mileage.||$2,169.94|
|State Farm||25 miles commute. 12,000 annual mileage.||$2,277.01|
|Travelers||10 miles commute. 6,000 annual mileage.||$5,425.63|
|Travelers||25 miles commute. 12,000 annual mileage.||$5,425.63|
|USAA||10 miles commute. 6,000 annual mileage.||$1,784.77|
|USAA||25 miles commute. 12,000 annual mileage.||$1,919.94|
Six major factors affect car insurance rates in Iowa. Which auto insurance factors will affect rates the most? Find out below:
Coverage Levels by Company
The amount of coverage you’re interested in is going to change the amount a car insurance company will charge you, as you can see below:
|Company||Coverage Level||Annual Average|
Credit History Rates by Company
Your credit history reflects your ability to pay back the money you owe to other organizations. Naturally, car insurance providers will consider this variable when giving you a rate.
|Company||Credit History||Annual Average|
The better your credit is, the less you have to pay.
Driving Record Rates by Company
Your driving history reflects your ability to drive carefully on the road. Car insurance providers each give a different rate to your history, as you can see below.
|Company||Record||Average Annual Cost|
|Allstate||With 1 accident||$3,051.76|
|Allstate||With 1 DUI||$3,470.40|
|Allstate||With 1 speeding violation||$2,818.27|
|American Family||Clean record||$2,181.69|
|American Family||With 1 accident||$3,194.70|
|American Family||With 1 DUI||$4,146.29|
|American Family||With 1 speeding violation||$2,564.80|
|Farmers||With 1 accident||$2,574.18|
|Farmers||With 1 DUI||$2,612.59|
|Farmers||With 1 speeding violation||$2,479.99|
|Geico||With 1 accident||$2,430.59|
|Geico||With 1 DUI||$3,150.98|
|Geico||With 1 speeding violation||$1,865.34|
|Liberty Mutual||Clean record||$3,813.55|
|Liberty Mutual||With 1 accident||$4,718.68|
|Liberty Mutual||With 1 DUI||$4,811.37|
|Liberty Mutual||With 1 speeding violation||$4,318.32|
|Nationwide||With 1 accident||$2,653.56|
|Nationwide||With 1 DUI||$3,619.74|
|Nationwide||With 1 speeding violation||$2,088.61|
|Progressive||With 1 accident||$3,153.79|
|Progressive||With 1 DUI||$2,088.27|
|Progressive||With 1 speeding violation||$2,409.88|
|State Farm||Clean record||$2,058.27|
|State Farm||With 1 accident||$2,388.67|
|State Farm||With 1 DUI||$2,223.47|
|State Farm||With 1 speeding violation||$2,223.47|
|Travelers||With 1 accident||$5,272.67|
|Travelers||With 1 DUI||$7,060.59|
|Travelers||With 1 speeding violation||$5,414.68|
|USAA||With 1 accident||$1,899.66|
|USAA||With 1 DUI||$2,470.24|
|USAA||With 1 speeding violation||$1,624.60|
As you might guess, high-risk drivers often have to pay more for their car insurance coverage than low-risk drivers.
Number of Insurers in Iowa
Domestic and foreign insurers are titles that don’t use their titular terms in the traditional sense. Domestic providers are providers who are present only in a specific state. Foreign insurers, comparatively, are providers who make their policies available just about everywhere.
Iowa’s domestic and foreign providers break down as follows:
- Domestic: 73
- Foreign: 860
As you can see, there are far more foreign providers operating in Iowa than domestic. That doesn’t mean you should count out your local insurance provider, but it does suggest that foreign providers may have a more significant support system for you to utilize.
Iowa State Laws
No one can memorize an entire state’s laws without significant practice (and a law degree). Even if you try to make note of all of your state’s driving laws, you’re likely to miss one or two as they’re updated.
That said, it’s important to know what kind of legalities apply to the road in your state.
We want to help Iowa drivers stay legal on the road. That’s why this section of our comprehensive guide will touch on the different legalities that maintain road safety in the state.
Car Insurance Laws
Car insurance laws vary by state. It’s best to start at the beginning when trying to understand their intricacies. Iowa, for example, does not require any of its drivers to hold car insurance. That said, the Motor Vehicle and Financial Safety Act ensures that holding insurance benefits drivers throughout the state.
Though there are no insurance laws in Iowa dictating that you have to own car insurance, the state makes the option appealing, even beyond the basic benefits of car insurance ownership.
If you have a spotty driving history, you may have to seek out high-risk insurance. High-risk insurance, or an SR-22, is a type of insurance that high-risk drivers are required to add to their existing coverage after a conviction or similar punishment.
You may be required to get an SR-22 if you’ve received any of the following:
- DUI conviction
- Reprimand for driving without insurance
- Reprimand for driving with a suspended license
- Reprimand for leaving the scene of an accident
Low-Cost Insurance in Iowa
Iowa does not offer car insurance programs for low-income families that would ease the pressure of paying for car insurance. However, drivers can seek out discounts to make the cost of insurance more bearable.
Be sure to ask your provider of choice if you or your family are eligible for any of the following:
- Accident-Free Discount
- Affiliation Discount (this would be any discounts through your employer, school, team, etc.)
- Anti-Theft Discounts (i.e. if you have alarms, tracking systems, etc on your vehicle)
- Auto-Pay Discounts (if you were to set up automatic payments from checking – some providers refer to it as a Paper-Saving Discount)
- Good Student Discount
- Homeowner’s Discount
- Multi-car Discount
- Green/Hybrid Car Discount (if you own/lease a hybrid or electric vehicle)
Be sure you shop around to find the best coverage for you that is equally cost-effective.
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Accidents are called accidents for a reason. No one can readily predict when one is going to occur. Your windshield, for example, may break when you hit another car or when a pebble flies up from the road and hits the glass.
Unfortunately, Iowa state and insurance laws do not require car insurance providers operating within the state to replace the broken or cracked windshield on your car.
That said, some providers will include windshield coverage among their add-ons. Comprehensive coverage, too, is likely to include windshield coverage. That’s all the more reason to take on the cost of insurance in Iowa, even if it isn’t legally required.
Automobile Insurance Fraud in Iowa
The insurance industry sees 10 percent of its operating costs go to enduring fraudulent claims or accounts over a year. There are two different types of automobile fraud.
- Hard fraud sees a driver deliberately falsifying a claim or faking an accident to receive compensation
- Soft fraud sees a driver padding a claim or misrepresenting accident information to an insurance provider
Soft fraud is the more common of these two types of fraud.
Tthough you may think you’re telling a white lie, soft fraud is considered a misdemeanor, and lying on your claim is considered a Class 5 Felony.
Statute of Limitations
After you get into an accident, you have a limited amount of time to file an applicable claim with your car insurance provider. This time is referred to as a statute of limitations. In Iowa, the statutes of limitations break down as follows:
- Personal Injury Claims: Two Years
- Property Damage Claims: Five Years
Clean Claims in Iowa
Iowa does have a few state-specific laws, namely, the one outlining the legalities of the claims drivers can submit to their providers. Insurers are required by law to respond to any claims a driver may submit while protected by that applicable provider’s coverage.
Vehicle Licensing Laws
Each state has different requirements regarding the financial forms of proof you’re required to carry as a representation of your coverage through a provider. Likewise, each state will require different things of drivers looking to renew their licenses and registrations.
This section will touch on those variations, not to mention the different kinds of licenses you might receive as an Iowa resident.
As a reminder, the following documents serve as proof of insurance in Iowa:
- Proof of payment to Driver and Identification Services
- A printed or electronic representation of your car insurance coverage
Teen Driver Laws
Most teenagers are eager to get behind the wheel of a car. Teens need to be at least 14 in Iowa to start learning to drive. At this age, they can apply for a learner’s license or permit, so long as they meet the following requirements:
- Maintain a mandatory holding period of 12 months
- Drive 20 hours with adult supervision, with a minimum of 2 at night
- Wait until age 16 to receive a full license
Restricted teen licenses require teen drivers to abide by the following rules:
- No passengers beyond family members, with exceptions made at parents’ discretion
- Nighttime driving restrictions between 12:30 a.m. and 5 a.m., lifted after age 17 with 12 months of driving experience or at 18 — whichever comes first
License Renewal Procedures
Drivers under the age of 70 and who don’t have an intermediate license need to renew their licenses on an eight-year cycle. Drivers only have to renew their licenses in person every other cycle, meaning that you can go up to 16 years without visiting the DMV. In between that time, you can renew your license via mail or the Internet.
Every time you renew your license in person, however, you’ll need to provide a representative with proof of adequate vision, under Iowan law.
Older Driver License Renewal Procedures
Drivers who are 72 years old or older must renew their licenses in person on a two-year cycle. These drivers must also provide proof of adequate vision upon every visit and are unable to submit renewal forms by mail or online.
If you’re moving to Iowa, you need to be sure your car insurance coverage fits with the state’s minimum required liability. As a reminder, Iowa requires the following:
- $20,000 for the injuries of a single party
- $40,000 for the injuries of more than one individual
- $15,000 for property damage
Though car insurance isn’t required by law in Iowa, you’ll receive benefits if you drive with it, including financial assistance in case of an accident.
Reckless driving and negligent driving are both against the law in Iowa, and yes, there is a difference between the two practices. When a person drives recklessly, they risk a misdemeanor for endangering other people or property. Legal consequences of this behavior include:
- 30 days in jail
- Fines between $25-$625
- Five- to 30-day license suspension
The penalties for negligent driving, or the death of another person as a result of reckless driving, can be seen below:
|Homicide Offense||Felony Type||Jail time||License Revocation||Additional Penalties|
|Reckless driving while intoxicated||Class B Felony||Up to 25 years||6 years||Complete drinking and driving program; may have to complete substance abuse program|
|Recklessness and/or fleeing from an officer||Class C Felony||Up to 10 years||Up to 1 year||$1,000 to $10,000 in fines|
|Drag racing||Class D Felony||Up to 5 years||Up to 1 year||$750 to $7,000 in fines|
Unintentional homicides are still homicides, and you could face serious consequences if you don’t drive with care.
Iowa Rules of the Road
From laws and legalities, we move to the rules of the road. These rules are designed to keep individual drivers a little safer while navigating from Point A to Point B. If you want to learn more and avoid an inadvertent ticket, read on.
Fault vs. No-Fault
As previously mentioned, Iowa is an at-fault state. This means that, at the time of an accident, one driver will be determined as the “at-fault” party — the party who was responsible for the accident. That party will then have to take on the financial responsibilities of both the injured party and their own vehicle, as any costs arise concerning the accident.
Keep Right and Move Over
If you are driving more slowly than the posted speed limit, or if you are not looking to pass a car in front of you, then Iowa law dictates that you must remain in the right-hand lane of the applicable interstate.
You must also move over for vehicles that have their lights flashing, regardless of whether or not they’re clearly marked as emergency vehicles. These vehicles include but are not limited to:
- Police cruisers
- Tow trucks
- Recovery vehicles
Speed limits will vary based on the part of Iowa you’re traveling through. Even though you may be tempted to play at racing the other cars around you, don’t. You can face serious consequences if you get caught speeding.
|Rural Interstates||Urban Interstates||Other Limited Access Roads||Other Roads|
|70 mph||55 mph||75 mph||65 mph|
Note, too, that the aforementioned speeds are the maximum speeds for their applicable areas.
Seat Belt and Car Seat Safety
Iowa wants all drivers and passengers to take to its roadways safely. That’s why the state has strict seat belt and car seat laws in place, as you can see in the table below.
|Safety Belt Rules||Details|
|Effective Since||July 1, 1986|
|Age/Seats Applicable||18+ years old in all seats|
|1st Offense Fine||$25 plus fees|
Note that driving without a seat belt can result in primary enforcement. That means law enforcement representatives do not need any other reason to pull you over if they spot you driving without a seat belt.
The rules of the road — or, in this case, of seat belts — are just as strict for children as they are for adults, as you can see below.
|Age||Type of Seat Required|
|Less than one year old and under 20 pounds||Rear-facing car seat|
|Between one and six years old||Safety seat or booster seat|
|Between 6 and 11||Child restraint system or safety belt|
|Up to 18 years old||Safety belt|
All that said, there are no laws in Iowa dictating whether people can ride in the back of cargo trucks. This doesn’t mean you can host a country music video–worthy party, but you can ride around from place to place legally — so long as you do so safely.
Ridesharing has seen a distinct uptick over the past few years. Uber and Lyft now serve as viable career opportunities for drivers willing to share their time and vehicles. Before you start working for one of these employers, though, you need to make sure that your car insurance covers ridesharing.
The following Iowa insurers have ridesharing insurance on their rosters:
- State Farm
Automation on the Road
Iowa is one of 32 states that has issued forth legislation dictating the different ways self-driving vehicles and other automated vehicles can operate on its roadways.
Just what, though, is an automated vehicle? Self-driving vehicles are still being tested around the United States, but they’ve yet to take to the roads. Right now, “automation” refers primarily to platooning technology, or technologies designed to keep groups of vehicles together while traveling on the road. Trucks and buses typically use these sorts of technologies to stay within a reasonable distance of one another.
There are some legalities that drivers have no say in. There are others, however, that arise as a response to drivers’ behavior. This section will explore Iowa’s DUI and distracted driving laws, both of which arose in response to the state’s fatality statistics.
Drinking and driving is never a good idea. In 2017 alone, Iowa saw 88 alcohol-related fatalities, all of which could have been avoided if someone had decided to rely on a designated driver.
In response to these statistics, Iowa has developed strict DUI laws, as you can see below:
|Impaired Driving Law in Iowa||Details|
|Name for Offense||Operating While Intoxicated (OWI)|
|High BAC Categories||0.15|
|Criminal Status||- 1st serious misdemeanor |
- 2nd aggravated misdemeanor
- 3rd+ class D felony
|Look Back Period||12 years|
Every time a driver fails to abide by these laws, their penalties will worsen:
|Number of Offense||License Suspension or Revocation and IID lock||IID Lock||Imprisonment||Fine||Other|
|1st Offense||180 days (may apply for temporary restricted license)||Must install IID if crash occurred or BAC > .10||48 hours up to 1 year; min 48 hours may be served in OWI program with law enforcement security||$625 up to $1,250 OR community service||- Complete substance abuse evaluation and treatment program |
- Might be assigned a reality education substance abuse prevention program
|2nd Offense||2 years (not eligible for temporary restricted license for 45 days)||not specified||7 days to 2 years||$1,875 to $6,250||Same as 1st offense|
|3rd Offense||6 years (not eligible for temporary restricted license for 45 days)||not specified||30 days to 5 years||$3,125 to $9,375||Same as 1st offense|
|4th Offense||Same as 3rd offense||Same as 3rd offense||Same as 3rd offense||Same as 3rd offense||Same as 1st offense|
Fines, jail time, and a suspended license are only accessories to the true consequences of drinking and driving: a lifetime of regret. If you’ve had too many drinks, work with a friend to get home safely, reach out to a rideshare program, or sleep it off. Don’t put your life or another driver’s life at risk.
Iowa is one of a few states that’s instituted a zero-tolerance THC-impaired driving law. This means that if you’re caught driving while high, you could face consequences comparable to those that a drunk driver would face.
Distracted Driving Laws
Texting and driving has just as significant an impact on your ability to stay on the road as driving while intoxicated does. The rise of the smartphone, however, has made it more tempting for drivers to reach out to other people while on the road.
In response, Iowa has instituted handheld and texting laws, as you can see below:
|Laws on Cellphones while Driving||Details|
|All use ban||Learner's permit and intermediate license holders|
|Texting ban||All drivers|
Again, primary enforcement means law enforcement needs no other reason to pull you over if you’re spotted texting and driving. Leave the texting for when your trip is done to stay safe and to avoid unnecessary consequences.
Driving in Iowa
With the law under your belt, you can dive into the dangers of Iowa’s roadways. Iowa is full of wildlife and exciting things to see, but you still need to be careful on the road. Iowa currently ranks as fifth in the nation for deer-related collisions. You’ll need to keep your eyes peeled while on the road, that much is clear.
For more information about fatalities and collisions in Iowa, keep on reading.
Vehicle Theft in Iowa
Sports cars aren’t always the cars stolen most frequently, especially in Iowa. Take a look at the list below to see which vehicles most commonly go missing in Iowa.
|Vehicle Make and Model||Vehicle Year||Total Stolen|
|Chevrolet Pickup (Full Size)||2002||258|
|Ford Pickup (Full Size)||2001||198|
|Dodge Pickup (Full Size)||2004||93|
|Jeep Cherokee/Grand Cherokee||2005||65|
|GMC Pickup (Full Size)||2007||60|
|Pontiac Grand Prix||1999||56|
That said, different cities have higher risks of vehicular theft than others, as detailed here:
|City||Number of Vehicle Thefts|
|West Des Moines||76|
Road Fatalities in Iowa
There are other roadway concerns you’ll need to keep an eye out for beyond theft. As you’re driving through Iowa, make sure you watch out for the other drivers on the road to better avoid becoming a statistic.
Here’s what you need to know to drive safely on Iowa’s interstates.
Most Fatal Highway in Iowa
According to Geotab.com, I-80 Is the most dangerous highway in Iowa. The roadway sees roughly 15 fatal crashes on a yearly basis. It’s so commonly used, though, because over a third of the population lives along the roadway.
Traffic Fatalities by Weather Condition and Light Condition
Different weather and light conditions can impact the way that drivers can operate on the road. Take a look at how both factors cause fatalities:
|Weather Condition||Daylight||Dark, but Lighted||Dark||Dawn or Dusk||Other / Unknown|
Fatalities by County
We can’t control the weather or the nature of the highway we’re driving on. There are some fatalities, however, that we have a little more control over.
Traffic Fatalities by Road Type
Location also impacts the likelihood of a car accident, as you can see in the table below:
|Light Truck - Pickup||38||53||71||53||54|
|Light Truck - Utility||43||32||42||54||42|
|Light Truck - Van||26||17||12||32||17|
|Light Truck - Other||0||1||0||0||0|
|Bicyclist and Other Cyclists||3||4||5||8||5|
Person type is also likely to impact fatality statistics. “Person type” here refers to a person’s relationship to a vehicle as opposed to any other demographic statistics.
Fatalities by Crash Type
There are also specific crash types that most frequently result in fatalities:
|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|
|Total Fatalities (All Crashes)||317||322||320||402||330|
Five-Year Trend for the Top 10 Counties
The table below relays the top 10 counties in Iowa that happen to see the most accidents over a year.
|Black Hawk County||12||5||10||11||8|
|Cerro Gordo County||3||6||7||6||12|
|Top Ten Counties Total||113||111||124||151||122|
|All Other Counties Total||203||209||196||251||208|
Fatalities Involving Speeding
It’s always tempting to start speeding on Iowa’s open roads. That said, Iowa sees its fair share of speedsters — and its speeding-related fatalities, as you can see in the table below:
|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|
Fatalities Involving an Alcohol-Impaired Driver
Drinking and driving is extremely dangerous for both the driver and for any pedestrians standing nearby. The below table relays alcohol-related accidents, including accidents involving teenage drivers who are intoxicated when they get behind the wheel in Iowa:
|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|
EMS Response Time
No one can predict when or where an accident will take place. Even so, when they do take place, you want to know that emergency services will be able to make it to your location with relative haste. In Iowa, EMS response times will vary based on your location, as you can see in the table below:
|Type of Crash||Time of Crash to EMS|
|EMS Notification to|
|EMS Arrival at Scene|
to Hospital Arrival
|Time of Crash to Hospital|
|Rural||6.21 min||12.11 min||32.39 min||50.57 min|
|Urban||3.88 min||6.28 min||19.72 min||28.20 min|
In rural areas, you’ll typically make it to a hospital within an hour of an accident taking place. In urban areas, you’ll get to a hospital within half an hour to your accident.
With additional information about Iowa’s fatalities at hand, you can make more responsible decisions about how you drive on the road. That said, what does driving in Iowa look like on a daily basis?
As is the case throughout most of the nation, Iowa residents typically own two cars per household. A significant portion more owns three vehicles, while residents with a single car list near 17 percent of the population.
Good news for commuters: the average commute in Iowa only takes 18 minutes. The national average comes in at 25.3 minutes, making Iowa an easy state for folks going to and from work in the morning.
Most drivers in Iowa prefer to make their way to and from work on their own. This habit lends itself to some early-morning and late-afternoon traffic, but it does mean that you — if you’re not carpooling, like 9 percent of the population — get to control what you listen to on the radio.
Traffic Congestion in Iowa
Finally, it’s worth noting that none of Iowa’s cities rank on the INRIX’s Global Traffic Scorecard, an international scorecard that tracks congestion all around the world. With an average commute of 18 minutes each way, it makes sense that Iowa has thus far remained off of this list.
And with that, we’ve come to the end of this comprehensive guide to all things related to Iowa’s car insurance. If you want to start comparing rates in your area ASAP, you can use our FREE online tool. Just enter your zip code to get started.