Iowa law requires that every automobile carry a certain amount of liability insurance. However, a surprising number of motorists fail to comply with the Hawkeye State’s requirements. While different people cite different reasons for driving without insurance, their decision—justified or not—poses a serious risk to themselves and everyone around them.
Iowa’s Insurance Laws
Almost every state requires that motorists purchase and maintain liability insurance policies for their registered vehicles.
Since most Americans simply cannot afford to pay the costs of an accident out-of-pocket, insurance policies are a form of liability protection. If someone is involved in a car crash—even if it was their fault—they can fall back on their insurance provider for coverage.
Under Iowa State Law, Insurance Policies Must Meet or Exceed These Limits
- $20,000 for bodily injury or death to any one person in any one accident.
- $40,000 for bodily injury or death to two or more persons in any one accident.
- $15,000 for bodily injury or the destruction of personal property in any one accident.
Iowa, like most states, has a fault-based insurance system. After an accident, the motorist who caused the collision—the at-fault driver—is responsible for paying the victim’s medical expenses and other damages.
However, if the at-fault driver has no liability insurance, they may not be able to compensate the victim.
The Difficulties of Recovering Compensation From an Uninsured Motorist
Iowa state law affords accident victims the right to file a personal injury lawsuit against the person or party who caused their injuries. Even if the at-fault driver does not have an insurance policy, they could still be named as a defendant in a civil claim.
Your Iowa car accident lawyer could help you assess whether the at-fault motorist has the assets needed to pay a claim by:
- Running a cash and asset check to evaluate the presumptive defendant’s wealth.
- Placing a lien on any valuable assets to prevent the defendant from selling them before or during legal proceedings.
- Filing a lawsuit and asking the court to issue a judgment against the defendant, which could result in a one-time payment or a structured payment plan.
Unfortunately, most uninsured drivers are not independently wealthy—oftentimes, they have no insurance simply because they feel they cannot afford to pay a monthly premium. While a personal injury lawsuit could return some damages, a lower-income defendant’s assets or garnished paycheck is unlikely to provide the compensation accident victims need to rebuild their lives.
Filing a Claim Through Your Own Insurance Policy
Since Iowa has a fault-based insurance system, your own automobile insurance company is unlikely to pay the full cost of an accident with an uninsured driver.
However, the Hawkeye State requires that every insurance company offer consumers the following two products:
Uninsured Motorist Coverage
Uninsured motorist coverage is a product offered by your own insurance company. This product provides protection and payable benefits if you are injured by a driver who does not have an insurance policy of their own.
Underinsured Motorist Coverage
Underinsured motorist coverage is usually bundled with uninsured motorist coverage. This product provides benefits if you are injured by a driver who does not have enough coverage to pay for the resulting damages.
Uninsured and underinsured motorist coverage is not mandatory in Iowa but is recommended for most drivers. If you have purchased and maintained either of these products, you could receive benefits through your automobile insurance policy. However, uninsured motorist coverage and underinsured motorist coverage will only pay benefits up to your policy limits.