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Iowa Auto Insurance [Rates + Cheap Coverage Guide]

Iowa Statistics SummaryDetails
Annual Road Miles
Vehicle Miles Driven: 31,414 Million
VehiclesRegistered in State: 3,409,279
Total Stolen: 4,151
Most Popular VehicleSilverado 1500
Uninsured Motorists8.70%
State Rank: 38th
Total Driving FatalitiesSpeeding: 330
Drunk Driving: 88
Average Annual PremiumsLiability: $299.18
Collision: $219.75
Comprehensive: $183.53
Cheapest Provider USAA
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A land of rolling hills, plains, and cornfields, Iowa lies in the center of the U.S. Midwest and is considered part of America’s heartland. The Hawkeye State isn’t so “middle of the road” when it comes to auto insurance, though, with plenty of options to help you drive safely through its rugged terrain.

It can take a lot of hard work to find the right auto insurance. And it can be harder to find time to research it. Don’t worry! Our comprehensive guide will save you time, and it has all the information you need to make the right choice.

We’ll explore auto insurance coverage, rates, providers, state laws, and much more. Want to start comparing rates today? Use our FREE online tool above to check rates in your area.

Table of Contents

Iowa Auto Insurance Rates

Getting the information you need on the best insurance coverage and rates available in Iowa can be overwhelming. After all, you don’t want to pay for coverage you don’t need or that is too expensive.

We want you to know what you’re paying for, so this is your guide to major coverage types, rates, and Iowa insurance companies.

Read on to learn all about Iowa auto insurance.

Iowa Minimum Auto Insurance Coverage

Though auto insurance isn’t mandatory in Iowa, if you’re in an accident, according to the Motor Vehicle and Financial Safety Act, you must provide proof of financial responsibility. This proof could be your own liability insurance.

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You can also provide a few other forms of financial responsibility, which we’ll cover in the next section.

Iowa is an “at-fault” state. What does this mean?

The person who caused, or is at-fault, for an accident must pay any personal injury or property claims.
If you’re insured, your provider will cover losses up to the minimum liability amount. Iowa law requires drivers to have minimum liability coverage. Learn more here: minimum coverage for auto insurance in Iowa.

Liability insurance pays everyone — drivers, passengers, pedestrians, bicyclists, etc. — who is owed money for property damage and/or injuries resulting from a car accident that you or anyone under your policy has caused. Drivers in Iowa must have the following minimum liability insurance if their licenses have been suspended or revoked:

  • $20,000 to pay for bodily injury per person
  • $40,000 to pay for total bodily injury per accident
  • $15,000 to pay for property damage per accident

Remember: these are only the minimum requirements. If the damages cost more, you will need to pay for them. We suggest that you buy more than the minimum liability amount of insurance for greater protection in case of an accident.

This video by the Hupy and Abraham, S.C. law firm explains Iowa insurance laws and the types of coverage you should consider buying:

Forms of Financial Responsibility

If you live in Iowa, the state law requires you to have a form of financial responsibility to prove that you have valid insurance on your car or can pay for damages in an accident. Anytime a police officer pulls you over or if you’re in an accident, you must provide proof of financial responsibility.

The following are some acceptable forms of financial responsibility to avoid having your license and registration suspended after an accident:

  • Valid liability insurance ID cards
  • Your car’s current insurance policy as proof that you had liability insurance when the accident happened
  • A valid insurance binder (a temporary form of auto insurance)
  • A release form from everyone involved in the accident
  • A filed statement that shows you promise to cover — on an installment plan if necessary — the costs of the injured or damaged parties
  • A civil damage action decision that releases you from any liability
  • A completed warrant for confession of judgment with agreed upon payment schedule
  • Evidence of a settlement reached between parties
  • Payment of one of the following to “Driver & Identification Services” in Iowa: Cash, Certified check, Cashier’s check, Bank draft, or Postal money order

Iowa insurance laws can be confusing because a few loopholes could save you from having to prove financial responsibility at the time of an accident. According to the DMV, below are a few exceptions:

  • “At the time of the accident, your vehicle was legally standing, stopped, or parked.”
  • “Someone was driving your vehicle without your permission at the time of the accident.”
  • “You were the only person to incur injuries or property damage as a result of the accident.”

Wondering what to do? The best thing to do is to be prepared to have proof of financial responsibility with you or on file with the DMV when you drive. Otherwise, fines and suspension of your license and car’s registration could await you.

So, to avoid penalties and confusing laws, it’s easier to have Iowa’s required auto insurance.

Premiums as a Percentage of Income

In 2014, the annual per capita disposable personal income (DPI) in Iowa, after taxes have been paid, was $39,820.

The average annual cost of auto insurance in Iowa is $684, which is about 1.8 percent of the average DPI.

The average Iowa resident earns $3,318 each month to buy food, pay bills, etc. Auto insurance will take about $56 out of that, which is below other states’ average premiums. The national average annual insurance premium is $981 per month. The money you save could go toward groceries, rent, and other expenses.

Or, if you can and want to, you can pay a little more for coverage beyond the minimum liability amount. Make sure to shop around for the best rates.

Average Monthly Auto Insurance Rates in IA (Liability, Collision, Comprehensive)

Coverage TypeAnnual Costs (2015)
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The above data is from one of the leading sources on the matter, the National Association of Insurance Commissioners. You can expect auto insurance rates in Iowa to be significantly higher for 2019 and on.

Remember: though it is important to have the required insurance, you should have additional coverage.

Ready to learn more? Next, we’ll explore auto insurance coverage options and add-ons.

Additional Liability Coverage

A loss ratio compares how much a company spends on claims to how much money they take in on premiums. A loss ratio of 60 percent indicates the company spent $60 on claims out of every $100 earned in premiums.

Loss Ratio201320142015
Medical Payments (Med Pay) 67%69%79%
Uninsured/Underinsured Motorist50%68%72%
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The above coverages are optional in Iowa, however, they can provide valuable protection in case of an accident.

For example, if you are in an accident with uninsured or underinsured drivers and they are at fault, they likely won’t be able to pay your medical bills and property damage before going bankrupt. Extra coverage can help save you from high accident bills.

In Iowa, 8.7 percent of drivers are uninsured. Iowa ranks 38th in the nation for uninsured drivers.

This number of uninsured drivers isn’t terrible, but you don’t want to risk getting into an accident with an uninsured driver. That could drain both of you of your resources.

The top companies in the U.S. have loss ratios that range from 94-112 percent. In 2015, Iowa’s uninsured and underinsured motorist coverage was well below these optimal ratios but has started to rise over the years to a better percentage.

Good news! MedPay loss ratios in Iowa have also increased.

So, if you’re interested in buying the recommended MedPay and uninsured or underinsured motorist coverages, you can rest assured that the loss ratios will improve.

Add-ons, Endorsements, and Riders

These are a few more options to round out your coverage policy.

Lucky you! There are lots of powerful, but cheap extras you can add.

Here’s a list of other useful coverage options available in Iowa.

  • Guaranteed Auto Protection (GAP)
  • Personal Umbrella Policy (PUP)
  • Rental Reimbursement
  • Mechanical Breakdown Insurance
  • Non-Owner Auto Insurance
  • Modified Auto Insurance Coverage
  • Classic Auto Insurance
  • Pay-as-You-Drive or Usage-Based Insurance

Add any of the above options to your coverage for greater protection tailored to your specific needs. You can add one or several, so make sure to pick the best ones for you.

Average Auto Insurance Rates by Age & Gender in IA

Did you know that gender can sometimes affect auto insurance rates? In Iowa, females pay more than males for insurance even if their driving records and background are similar to that of males.

CompanyMarried 35-year-old Female Annual RateMarried 35-year-old Male Annual RateMarried 60-year-old Female Annual RateMarried 60-year-old Male Annual RateSingle 25-year-old Female Annual RateSingle 25-year-old Male Annual RateSingle 17-year-old Female Annual RateSingle 17-year-old Male Annual Rate
Allstate F&C$1,958.15$1,879.95$1,740.38$1,771.40$2,131.19$2,192.58$5,666.77$6,380.74
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
Geico Cas$1,871.32$1,677.39$1,676.90$1,535.68$1,767.80$1,635.28$4,252.86$3,954.88
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
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
Progressive Northern$1,685.12$1,622.63$1,389.61$1,441.50$2,027.39$2,192.49$4,131.25$4,663.86
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
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Age also plays a part in determining rates. In general, the younger you are, the more you pay. Teenage drivers, who have less driving experience, pay thousands more for auto insurance! This is why most parents place teenagers on their own insurance policies for lower rates.

Auto Insurance Rates by ZIP Code in Iowa

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Where you live is also an important factor in your auto insurance rates. Find the highest and lowest rates for auto insurance by the ZIP code below.

Up first, are where you will find the most affordable ZIP codes in the state.

25 ZIP Codes With the Cheapest Annual Auto Insurance Rates in Iowa
CityZip codeAnnual Average
SOUTH AMANA52243$2,613.15
SIOUX CITY50012$2,643.57
SIOUX CITY50014$2,651.87
SIOUX CITY50010$2,661.70
SIOUX CITY50011$2,663.37
DES MOINES50013$2,676.23
ROSE HILL52246$2,697.81
BLUE GRASS52240$2,719.12
DES MOINES50006$2,764.17
CENTER POINT52404$2,768.58
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If your mailing address is in the following ZIP codes, you can expect to pay higher than average for auto insurance.

25 ZIP Codes With the Most Expensive Annual Auto Insurance Rates in Iowa
CityZip codeAnnual Average
SIOUX RAPIDS51510$3,421.91
OXFORD JUNCTION50314$3,379.73
NEW ALBIN50308$3,327.01
PILOT MOUND51561$3,249.84
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Iowa city ZIP codes are among the cheapest places for auto insurance, but it’s the most expensive in Luther. Below, we’ve listed the least expensive Iowa cities for auto insurance.

25 Iowa Cities With the Cheapest Annual Auto Insurance Rates
CityAnnual Average
IOWA CITY$2,667.19
LE GRAND$2,734.13
STORY CITY$2,759.69
IOWA FALLS$2,769.51
CLEAR LAKE$2,774.04
MASON CITY$2,782.99
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Council Bluffs again emerges as the most expensive place to buy auto insurance.

25 Iowa Cities With the Most Expensive Annual Auto Insurance Rates
CityAnnual Average
CARTER LAKE$3,421.91
SIOUX CITY$3,295.84
SILVER CITY$3,228.19
DES MOINES$3,218.42
HONEY CREEK$3,209.76
RED OAK$3,178.98

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Though it’s not the largest city in Iowa, it’s one of the state’s ten largest cities. As this data shows, the population size of a city doesn’t determine insurance costs.

Iowa Auto Insurance Companies

So many auto insurance carriers compete for your business these days that it’s hard to know which ones actually come through on their promises.

No need to worry — we’ve got you covered! Keep scrolling to find out the 10 best providers across Iowa that can give you the best coverage and the best rates.

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We will also feature companies’ financial ratings, customer reviews, and much more.

Ready? Let’s get this show on the road…

The Largest Companies’ Financial Ratings

A.M. Best offers financial ratings of insurance companies. A good score means these companies are more likely to stay solvent and can pay customer claims.

Company Name AM Ratings Direct Premiums Written Loss Ratio Market Share
State Farm GroupA++$389,03263.96%22.14%
Progressive GroupA+$285,10763.34%16.23%
Nationwide Corp GroupA+$180,62151.49%10.28%
Iowa Farm Bureau GroupNR$119,30867.98%6.79%
American Family Insurance GroupA$111,22769.86%6.33%
Grinnell Mutual GroupA$78,94571.86%4.49%
IMT Mutual Holding GroupNR$57,49870.27%3.27%
Allstate Insurance GroupA+$56,70260.70%3.23%
West Bend Mutual Insurance CoA$38,49858.38%2.19%
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Besides premiums, one of the other components that should factor into your decision when picking an insurance carrier is customer ratings. Want to find out what customers really think about the top Iowa auto insurance carriers?

Here we go!

Companies with the Best Ratings

Customer satisfaction is an important part of a company’s success. J.D. Power studied five customer satisfaction factors — interaction, policy offerings, price, billing process/policy information, and claims — to see which companies scored best.

Up next, we examine customer complaints.

Companies with the Most Complaints in Iowa

The complaint index of each company compares the number of customer complaints to its share of profits across the state. Companies that have a complaint index higher than one are worse than the average insurer in Iowa, and those with an index below one are better than average.

CompanyComplaint Ratio 2017Total Complaints 2017
State Farm Group0.441482
Progressive Group0.75120
Nationwide Corp Group0.2825
Iowa Farm Bureau Group2.663
American Family Insurance Group0.00
Grinnell Mutual Group0.00
IMT Mutual Holding Group2.421
Allstate Insurance Group0.98163
West Bend Mutual Insurance Co00
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Bear in mind, some complaints are based on general customer satisfaction, so consider that in your final decision.

Iowa Auto Insurance Rates by Company

We know that rates are one of the biggest factors in your Iowa auto insurance choices. The below chart shows ten of the top carriers in the state, along with their average rates compared to the overall state average.

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CompanyAverage Annual Cost Amount Compared to State AveragePercentage Compared to State Average
Allstate F&C$2,965.14$6.950.23%
American Family Mutual$3,021.87$63.672.11%
Farmers Insurance Co$2,435.45-$522.75-21.46%
Geico Cas$2,296.51-$661.68-28.81%
Nationwide Agribusiness Insurance$2,551.81-$406.39-15.93%
Progressive Northern$2,394.23-$563.96-23.56%
Safeco Insurance Co America$4,415.48$1,457.2933.00%
State Farm Mutual Auto$2,223.47-$734.72-33.04%
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Cost of Commutes by Carrier

At some companies, how far you commute regularly can affect your insurance rates.

Average Annual Auto Insurance Rates by Commute
Companies10-mile commute.
6,000 annual mileage.
25-mile commute.
12,000 annual mileage.
State Farm$2,169.94$2,277.01
American Family$2,986.61$3,057.13
Liberty Mutual$4,415.48$4,415.48
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At some companies, like Geico, the more you drive, the more you pay. Fortunately, some of the companies listed don’t increase their costs with higher mileages traveled, and commute times, in general, don’t affect your rates much compared to other factors.

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Factor in how much you drive and how often to find companies with the best rates for you.

Coverage Level Rates in Iowa

Generally, the more you pay, the better your insurance coverage. Let’s take a closer look at the price differences at Iowa companies.

Average Annual Auto Insurance Rates by Coverage Level in Iowa
State Farm$2,115.69$2,236.04$2,318.68
American Family$3,035.16$3,189.92$2,840.53
Liberty Mutual$4,237.62$4,407.47$4,601.36
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It pays to shop around. Some companies, like USAA, have only a $184 increase from low to high coverage, which means it would cost only $15 more per month for better coverage!

Credit History Rates

According to a study by Experian, the average Iowan has a credit card VantageScore of 695 (among the highest in the nation), around three credit cards in their name, and a credit card balance of $5,155.

Average Annual Auto Insurance Rates by Credit History in Iowa
State Farm$1,544.99$1,958.88$3,166.55
American Family$2,380.74$2,831.65$3,853.23
Liberty Mutual$3,061.08$3,889.40$6,295.97
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Your credit score can certainly play an important part in determining your auto insurance rates. Next, we’ll cover another important factor that insurers use to determine rates: driving record.

Driving Record Rates

A clean driving record can definitely help you cut insurance costs. Just one accident could make your rates soar. For example, at Travelers, all it takes is one DUI to increase your rates to over $7,000 a year.

Average Annual Auto Insurance Rates by Driving Record in Iowa
Company Clean recordWith one speeding violationWith one accidentWith one DUI
State Farm$2,058.27$2,223.47$2,388.67$2,223.47
American Family$2,181.69$2,564.80$3,194.70$4,146.29
Liberty Mutual$3,813.55$4,318.32$4,718.68$4,811.37
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Number of Insurers in Iowa

DomesticForeignTotal Number of Licensed Insurers
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Domestic insurance is formed under Iowa law, but foreign insurance is formed under the laws of any state in the U.S.

Iowa State Laws

To keep your auto insurance rates low, you should know the laws in your state.

Don’t worry! We’re here to help.

Keep reading to learn about the laws specific to Iowa.

Auto Insurance Laws

As we’ve said before, Iowa doesn’t require all drivers to have auto insurance, but the Motor Vehicle and Financial Safety Act makes having at least the minimum liability coverage appealing to buyers.

Though you could get by with providing proof of financial responsibility, not having auto insurance is risky, so it’s best to buy at least the minimum. Keep reading for information about high-risk insurance.

High-Risk Insurance

Higher premiums are the last thing anyone wants to pay for. But, if you’re in an accident, you may have to fill-out an SR-22 form to buy high-risk insurance. In Iowa, that means you’ll need to have the minimum liability coverage.

Again, in Iowa, drivers aren’t required to have minimum auto insurance, just proof of financial responsibility if they are in an accident.

Fortunately, the cost of minimum auto insurance in Iowa is fairly low compared to other states. We highly recommend you have auto insurance, so make sure you buy the minimum amount for high-risk insurance before you ever get in an accident!

Low-Cost Insurance

The state of Iowa doesn’t currently offer any special low-cost insurance programs. As we discussed above, it’s best to have at least the minimum liability coverage, as penalties for not having proof of financial responsibility can be severe. You can’t afford not to have insurance.

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Windshield Coverage

Iowa law doesn’t require insurers to replace cracked or broken windshields. If you want windshield coverage, you will need comprehensive insurance and you will have to examine carefully how the different insurance providers handle windshield claims. So, if you have comprehensive coverage, your insurer will likely pay for the repairs.

While some states mandate a waived deductible for windshield repairs, and others specify the use of only manufacturer replacement parts, Iowa does allow replacement with aftermarket parts. That is if it’s stated on the estimate and if the parts are “at least equal in kind and quality…in terms of fit, quality, and performance, or that the part complies with federal safety standards” — if mentioned in the policy. The consumer can refuse but will pay the difference in the quote.

Having good insurance almost pays for itself in the end. Otherwise, you may have to pay for a damaged windshield yourself.

Automobile Insurance Fraud in Iowa

It’s no wonder that insurance fraud is a crime. According to the Insurance Information Institute, there are two ways to commit insurance fraud:

  1. Intentionally faking an accident or making a false claim
  2. Adding “extra” onto a legitimate claim

Insurance fraud can lead to fines and jail time. It’s better to be honest in your claims. Simply put, avoid insurance fraud, and you’re good to go.

Statute of Limitations

If you’re in an accident, you’re subject to the statute of limitations, meaning that your time to file a claim in Iowa is limited. This time begins running out the day of your accident.

As shown below, Iowa’s statute of limitations for personal injury and property damage are fairly lenient. Regardless, it makes sense to file a claim as soon as possible, because if you don’t file in time, you won’t receive the money owed to you.

  • Personal Injury: Two years
  • Property Damage: Five years

So, don’t wait! Time passes quickly, and before you know it, you could miss your chance to collect money owed to you.

Iowa’s Clean Claim Law

Iowa law requires insurers to respond to claims their customers submit. Insurers that don’t respond to claims can be held legally responsible. Though the law requires insurers to respond to claims, insurers may fail to pay benefits.

Be aware! In case of an accident, get familiar with your insurance policy to make sure that you receive all the benefits owed to you.

Vehicle Licensing Laws

As we said before, drivers in Iowa aren’t required to have auto insurance. But, if you’re in an accident, you must show proof of financial responsibility. Otherwise, the Iowa Department of Transportation will suspend your license and registration.

Again, the following are acceptable as proof of financial responsibility in Iowa:

  • Valid liability insurance ID cards
  • Your car’s current insurance policy as proof that you had liability insurance when the accident happened
  • A valid insurance binder (a temporary form of auto insurance)
  • A release form from everyone involved in the accident
  • A filed statement that shows you promise to cover — on an installment plan if necessary — the costs of the injured or damaged parties
  • A civil damage action decision that releases you from any liability
  • A completed warrant for confession of judgment with agreed upon payment schedule
  • Evidence of a settlement reached between parties
  • Payment of one of the following to “Driver & Identification Services” in Iowa:
  • Cash
  • Certified check
  • Cashier’s check
  • Bank draft
  • Postal money order

Unless the police already file a form, if you are in an accident, you must also fill out an accident form within 72 hours. If you can’t provide insurance or another form of financial responsibility, you will be fined $500. You could also have your license and registration suspended and your vehicle impounded.

Anytime you are pulled over, you must show proof of financial responsibility or face penalties.

Teen Driver Laws

To receive a license or a restricted license, driver education is required if the applicant is younger than 18. Teens in Iowa can start driving with a learner’s permit at age 14. Teens must meet the requirements below.

Requirements for Getting a License or Restricted License in IowaTime Limits
Mandatory holding period12 months
Minimum supervised driving time20 hours (2 of which must be at night)
Minimum age16-years-old
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In Iowa, driver’s education graduates who have held an instruction permit for at least six months and are at least 14 years and six months old may apply for a school license that allows unsupervised driving between 5 a.m. and 10 p.m. The school license limits drivers to direct routes to and from school for classes or school-sponsored activities, at other schools hosting activities, school bus stops, and gas stations.

Holders of a minor school license may not use electronic or entertainment devices (permanently installed equipment exempted), carry more than one unrelated passenger or drive to another school district without an extra-curricular sharing agreement.

Young drivers in Iowa with restricted licenses must also follow the rules below.

Intermediate License Restrictions in IowaDetails Removal Time Limit
Nighttime restrictions12:30 a.m. to 5 a.m.May be lifted after 12 months and age 17 or until age 18 (whichever occurs first)
Passenger Restrictions (family members excepted) At parental discretion May be changed at parental discretion
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Next are restrictions for older drivers, another group that has special driving requirements.

Older Driver License Renewal Procedures

Iowa law requires drivers over 72 years old to renew their licenses every two years. Below are a few more rules:

  • Proof of adequate vision is required at every renewal
  • Online or mail renewal is not allowed for drivers age 70 and older

So, if you are an older driver, plan to visit your eye doctor and the DMV every two years.

New Residents

If you want to drive in Iowa, you need auto insurance or proof of financial responsibility. You can opt out of uninsured and underinsured motorist coverage, but you should have bodily injury and property damage liability insurance. As a reminder, these are the minimum amounts in Iowa:

  • $20,000 to pay for bodily injury per person
  • $40,000 to pay for total bodily injury per accident
  • $15,000 to pay for property damage per accident

Make sure to contact your current provider to change the rates to match Iowa’s minimum. You will also need updated insurance cards with your new address.

Don’t forget! Though auto insurance isn’t legally required in Iowa, you could face penalties for driving without it. So, when you move to Iowa, make sure that you have adequate coverage.

License Renewal Procedures

Iowans under age 70 must renew their licenses every eight years. And you don’t need to go to the DMV every time!

Iowa drivers under 70 years old can renew their licenses by mail or online at every other renewal. That’s 16 years without a trip to the DMV!

But, when you renew your license in person at the DMV, the law requires proof of adequate vision. So, you will need to take a vision test or provide proof of one when you’re there.

Reckless Driving

According to Iowa state law, reckless or negligent driving that endangers property and people is classified as a misdemeanor.

Potential penalties:

  • 30 days in jail and/or fines that range from $25 to $625
  • five-day to 30-day license suspension

The vehicular laws and penalties are much more severe when a driver causes the death of another person through reckless driving.

Homicide Offense Felony TypeJail time License Revocation Additional Penalties
Reckless driving while intoxicated Class B Felony Up to 25 years6 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
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Reckless driving doesn’t just endanger you but everyone around you! And reckless drivers could end up killing someone.

Iowa’s Rules of the Road

It’s unwise to break driving laws; it’s best to know the rules of the road to keep yourself and other drivers safe and to prevent fines and points from appearing on your record. Read on for rules you should follow.

Fault vs. No-Fault

Iowa is an “at-fault” state, which means the person who caused an accident is liable for paying all personal injury and property damage claims.

If you don’t have insurance or the right coverage, the costs of an accident can quickly drain your resources if you caused it. Be prepared! Though Iowa law doesn’t legally require you to have insurance, the Motor Vehicle Financial and Safety Responsibility Act has strict penalties for drivers in accidents who don’t have insurance. And it makes sense to buy more coverage beyond the minimum requirements.

Keep Right and Move Over Laws

Iowa’s “move over” laws are fairly simple.

If you drive slower than the speed of surrounding traffic, keep to the right lane. You would, of course, pass on the left, but in some cases, you can pass on the right:

  • If a vehicle turns left or is about to turn left
  • If four or more lanes of traffic are moving in the same direction

But, be careful! If you pass on the right when it’s unsafe to do so, you could be convicted of a misdemeanor.

It makes sense, for courtesy and safety, though the law requires it, to slow down or move over if you see a vehicle with flashing lights parked on the road.

You also must move over to the right and stop for vehicles with flashing lights. Some examples are below:

  • Parked emergency vehicles with flashing lights
  • Stationary tow, recovery, maintenance, waste vehicles, etc. with flashing lights
  • Any motor vehicle with flashing hazard lights

The video below describes the “move over” laws regarding vehicles parked along the side of the road:

These laws keep everyone safe. So, don’t forget to slow down or move over at the right time!

Speed Limits

Take note that these are only the maximum speed limits for each road type.

Rural InterstatesUrban InterstatesOther Limited Access RoadsOther Roads
70 mph55 mph75 mph65 mph
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No one likes to get speeding tickets. Get familiar with Iowa’s speed limits and pay attention to signs to avoid a ticket.

Seat Belt and Car Seat Laws

Iowa wants drivers on its roads to stay safe, so they have rules for buckling up. Read the mandatory seat belt laws below to avoid a fine.

Safety Belt Rules Details
Effective SinceJuly 1, 1986
Primary EnforcementYes
Age/Seats Applicable18+ years old in front seat
1st Offense Fine$25 plus fees
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Primary enforcement means that a police officer doesn’t need another reason to pull you over — he or she can give you a ticket just for not wearing a seat belt.

Car seat safety for infants and toddlers is another of Iowa’s priorities. If you have children, follow the rules below to protect them while you drive.

Required Car SeatsAge
Rear-Facing Seat Younger than 1-year-old and less than 20 pounds
Child Restraint or Booster Seat 1 through 5-years-old
Adult Seat Belt Allowed6 through 17-years-old
1st Offense Fine$25
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Iowa doesn’t have any laws against riding in the cargo areas of pick-ups but make sure you take care to keep yourself and your passengers safe.


You might be familiar with ridesharing companies like Uber and Lyft. Working for these companies requires ridesharing insurance and usually a vehicle inspection.

If you want to join a ridesharing service, insurance is available from the following providers in Iowa:

  • Farmers
  • State Farm
  • USAA

In Iowa, ridesharing drivers must have properly registered vehicles with the minimum liability insurance amount and ridesharing insurance. And, remember your driving record. Ridesharing companies will check it, and any accidents or suspensions in the last three years will disqualify you from driving for them.

Automation on the Road

According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS),

Automation is the use of a machine or technology to perform a task or function that was previously carried out by a human. In driving, automation involves using radar, camera and other sensors to gather information about a vehicle’s surroundings, which computer programs then use to do some or all of the driving on a regular basis.

Currently, Iowa has no restrictions on autonomous vehicles.

Iowa’s Safety Laws

But wait, there’s more! Let’s dig deeper into the safety laws in Iowa to protect you on the open road.

DUI Laws

In 2017, there were 88 alcohol-related deaths in Iowa. Drunk driving is a major problem nationwide, and to save lives, laws are in place to protect everyone. Details about Iowa’s drunk driving laws are below.

Impaired Driving Law in IowaDetails
Name for OffenseOperating While Intoxicated (OWI)
BAC Limit0.08
High BAC Categories0.15
Criminal Status1st serious misdemeanor
2nd aggravated misdemeanor
3rd+ class D felony
Look Back Period12 years
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Below are the specific penalties in place for drunk driving.

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
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 $6,250Same 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 $9,375Same 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
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Drunk driving can lead to fines, jail time, and a suspended license. Drunk drivers endanger themselves and everyone else, so don’t drink and drive.

Iowa is trying to curtail drunk driving. This video shows how police there are involved in a pilot program, “Place of Last Drink,” together with the National Liquor Law Enforcement Association, to crack down on drunk driving and overserving of liquor.

Marijuana-Impaired Driving Laws

Iowa is among the few states with zero tolerance for marijuana-impaired driving.

On top of that, marijuana, like other substances, can remain in your urine for up to a month, and be detected in hair samples for several months. If officers suspect marijuana use, they can still charge you for driving under the influence even if you used it weeks before.

Avoid the possibility of being caught. Driving under the influence of marijuana can result in fines, jail time, and other penalties.

Distracted Driving Laws

Distracted driving has become just as dangerous as driving under the influence. Smartphone use is often to blame. These are the following restrictions on cellphone use in Iowa:

Laws on Cellphones while Driving Details
Hand-held banNone
All use banLearner's permit and intermediate license holders
Texting banAll drivers
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Primary enforcement simply means that an officer can pull you over just for texting on your phone.

This Iowa Department of Transportation video details how someone who was texting while driving caused the unfortunate and untimely deaths of two young boys:

Iowa Can’t-Miss Facts

You now have a good understanding of the laws in Iowa, so let’s dive into the risks and statistics of the road.
Keep reading for fascinating facts about Iowa’s vehicle theft, driving fatalities, teen drinking, and EMS response time.

Vehicle Theft in Iowa

Some cars in Iowa are stolen more than others. If your car is stolen, comprehensive insurance may cover the costs of the car. That’s just one of the many reasons why it’s good to have auto insurance.

Vehicle Make and Model Vehicle Year Total Stolen
Chevrolet Pickup (Full Size)2002258
Ford Pickup (Full Size)2001198
Chevrolet Impala2005101
Dodge Pickup (Full Size)200493
Ford Taurus200377
Jeep Cherokee/Grand Cherokee200565
GMC Pickup (Full Size)200760
Toyota Camry199759
Dodge Caravan200556
Pontiac Grand Prix199956
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Where you live is also a crucial risk factor in vehicle thefts. The FBI has collected data on 2013 vehicle theft by city, which we included below.

Top 10 Iowa Cities for Vehicle Theft
City Number of Vehicle Thefts
Des Moines850
Council Bluffs541
Cedar Rapids297
Sioux City240
Fort Dodge84
Iowa City82
West Des Moines76
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Iowa’s Crash Report

Risky and harmful behavior plays a big role in driving fatalities. We will take a closer look at Iowa’s traffic fatalities and some of the main factors in those accidents, such as speeding and underage drinking.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) included one Iowa city on its list of traffic fatalities by city.

City Total Killed 2016 Pedestrians Killed 2016 Fatality Rate per 100,000 Population
Des Moines City2059.28 percent
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More deaths generally occur on rural than urban roads but make sure you drive carefully wherever you are. Below, you’ll find NHTSA data on moving averages of fatalities by road type.

Road Type 2003-20052004-20062005-20072006-20082007-2009
Total 427426445432410
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Person type (vehicle type and pedestrian vs. occupant) also plays a part in fatality rates.

Person Type 20132014201520162017
Passenger Car130117111152109
Light Truck - Pickup3853715354
Light Truck - Utility4332425442
Light Truck - Van2617123217
Light Truck - Other01000
Large Truck101161118
Other/Unknown Occupants6154810
Total Motorcyclists4152416048
Bicyclist and Other Cyclists34585
Other/Unknown Non-occupants01322
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Crash type is also an important factor in fatality rates.

Crash Type20132014201520162017
Single Vehicle169167168203182
Involving a Large Truck6148617067
Involving Speeding5145499470
Involving a Rollover109110115110124
Involving a Roadway Departure185208185231207
Involving an Intersection (or Intersection Related)788510211385
Total Fatalities (All Crashes)317322320402330
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Up next, crash statistics by counties in Iowa.

Below is the five-year trend for the top 10 counties in Iowa, which have some of the highest fatality rates in the state.

County 20132014201520162017
Black Hawk County12510118
Cerro Gordo County367612
Dubuque County494410
Iowa County21589
Johnson County785168
Linn County121452016
Marshall County354412
Polk County2619202827
Pottawattamie County916131312
Scott County111321198
Top Ten Counties Total 113111124151122
All Other Counties Total 203209196251208
Overall Total 316320320402330
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Speeding is a major cause of death in Iowa. Read on for the number of speeding fatalities in each county.

County Name20132014201520162017
Adair County00000
Adams County00000
Allamakee County21010
Appanoose County10230
Audubon County00001
Benton County10040
Black Hawk County11341
Boone County02020
Bremer County00000
Buchanan County00010
Buena Vista County00000
Butler County00100
Calhoun County00001
Carroll County02000
Cass County01061
Cedar County00111
Cerro Gordo County10109
Cherokee County00010
Chickasaw County01000
Clarke County10010
Clay County12000
Clayton County00010
Clinton County00100
Crawford County00120
Dallas County20040
Davis County00110
Decatur County00001
Delaware County00000
Des Moines County01000
Dickinson County20001
Dubuque County01123
Emmet County00000
Fayette County05012
Floyd County10000
Franklin County00000
Fremont County00002
Greene County00000
Grundy County00000
Guthrie County01000
Hamilton County00010
Hancock County00000
Hardin County01000
Harrison County10000
Henry County00110
Howard County10000
Humboldt County00000
Ida County00000
Iowa County00035
Jackson County00001
Jasper County22112
Jefferson County00000
Johnson County10013
Jones County00000
Keokuk County10000
Kossuth County00100
Lee County01121
Linn County22175
Louisa County00100
Lucas County00000
Lyon County00000
Madison County02011
Mahaska County10011
Marion County00111
Marshall County03000
Mills County01001
Mitchell County00000
Monona County01012
Monroe County00000
Montgomery County00000
Muscatine County00001
O Brien County00000
Osceola County00001
Page County10000
Palo Alto County00000
Plymouth County00002
Pocahontas County01000
Polk County847125
Pottawattamie County31140
Poweshiek County01010
Ringgold County00010
Sac County20022
Scott County43953
Shelby County00210
Sioux County00101
Story County00121
Tama County00022
Taylor County10011
Union County00000
Van Buren County00000
Wapello County00000
Warren County22101
Washington County00000
Wayne County00000
Webster County10221
Winnebago County00001
Winneshiek County00001
Woodbury County51660
Worth County00000
Wright County20001
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Another major contributor to crash fatalities from drunk driving. Below, we’ve taken a look at deaths involving an alcohol-impaired driver.

County Name 20132014201520162017
Adair County05020
Adams County00000
Allamakee County21121
Appanoose County11130
Audubon County01002
Benton County33131
Black Hawk County31211
Boone County20110
Bremer County10000
Buchanan County00110
Buena Vista County01100
Butler County11001
Calhoun County01013
Carroll County03012
Cass County11140
Cedar County10101
Cerro Gordo County11028
Cherokee County00110
Chickasaw County01010
Clarke County00000
Clay County00000
Clayton County22110
Clinton County11100
Crawford County00000
Dallas County34341
Davis County00000
Decatur County01002
Delaware County20000
Des Moines County11131
Dickinson County00011
Dubuque County12101
Emmet County10000
Fayette County01010
Floyd County10000
Franklin County20001
Fremont County11012
Greene County00020
Grundy County10000
Guthrie County01100
Hamilton County00020
Hancock County30002
Hardin County01110
Harrison County01100
Henry County10110
Howard County00000
Humboldt County21011
Ida County00100
Iowa County00112
Jackson County01010
Jasper County10011
Jefferson County00000
Johnson County13071
Jones County13100
Keokuk County11000
Kossuth County10100
Lee County21331
Linn County44041
Louisa County02100
Lucas County00011
Lyon County20000
Madison County10320
Mahaska County02100
Marion County11010
Marshall County21015
Mills County11011
Mitchell County10010
Monona County10222
Monroe County00210
Montgomery County00100
Muscatine County00021
O Brien County10100
Osceola County01012
Page County11000
Palo Alto County00001
Plymouth County00011
Pocahontas County01001
Polk County767106
Pottawattamie County43335
Poweshiek County12001
Ringgold County00000
Sac County02000
Scott County651061
Shelby County10000
Sioux County10010
Story County01101
Tama County30003
Taylor County10001
Union County00020
Van Buren County00000
Wapello County00121
Warren County20612
Washington County02002
Wayne County00002
Webster County20022
Winnebago County01000
Winneshiek County10121
Woodbury County61421
Worth County01000
Wright County20101
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A sobering fact of drunk driving is that a percentage of the drivers are teens. In 2016, law enforcement arrested 71 underage Iowa drivers for drunk driving.

Iowa’s fatality rate for underage drunk driving is 0.8 deaths per 100,000 people, which is below the national average of 1.2 fatalities.

Iowa did, however, rank 20th in the U.S. for the number of underage alcohol-impaired arrests. Regardless of age, it’s important to never drive impaired.

Now that we have covered drunk driving fatalities and arrests, let’s look at EMS response times in Iowa.

EMS Response Time in Iowa

Accident victims need help to arrive quickly, so the lower the EMS response time, the better.

Type of CrashTime of Crash
to EMS Notification
EMS Notification
to EMS Arrival
EMS Arrival at
Scene to Hospital Arrival
Time of Crash
to Hospital Arrival
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 .
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Transportation in Iowa

Transportation takes us where we need to go and the residents of Iowa are definitely on the go.

Car Ownership

Iowa has a fair number of cars on the road: the average household owns two cars. The next largest population is three-car owners followed by those that own a single car.

Commute Time

How many long do you spend in the car daily? In Iowa, the average person drives 18 minutes to work, which is below the national average of 25.3 minutes. 1.35 percent of Iowa’s commuters spend 90 minutes or more driving to work.

Commuter Transportation

We’ve looked at how many cars people own and commute times, but now we’re going to see how people commute. Driving alone is the most popular choice. Carpooling is the travel choice for 8.17 percent of workers in the state. Nearly five percent of Iowans work from home.

Congestion in Iowa

Now, let’s cover the average amount of time an Iowan spends in traffic. Good news! None of Iowa’s cities made INRIX’s Global Traffic Scorecard, which lists the worst cities for traffic congestion worldwide.

Because Iowans spend only 18 minutes on average commuting, they don’t sit in traffic for a long time.

Wow! We’re now at the end of this comprehensive guide, and you’re ready to drive through Iowa’s beautiful state. Start comparing auto insurance rates today by entering your ZIP code below in our FREE online tool!


  1. https://iowadot.gov/mvd/driverslicense/dlmanual/section4.pdf
  2. https://content.naic.org/
  3. https://www.statista.com/statistics/675174/combined-loss-ratio-top-car-insurance-companies-usa/
  4. https://www.jdpower.com/business/press-releases/jd-power-2018-us-auto-insurance-study
  5. https://iid.iowa.gov/insurance-consumer-complaint
  6. https://www.experian.com/blogs/ask-experian/consumer-credit-review/
  7. https://www.iii.org/article/background-on-insurance-fraud
  8. https://statelaws.findlaw.com/iowa-law/iowa-insurance-fraud-laws.html
  9. https://www.drivinglaws.org/resources/iowa-reckless-driving-laws-and-penalties.htm
  10. https://www.responsibility.org/alcohol-statistics/state-map/state/iowa/

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