Alabama Car Insurance
If you want to learn about Alabama auto insurance, we’ve got all the information you’ll need right here on this page. Keep reading for information on required coverage, penalties for driving uninsured, important coverage decisions, protection against storm damage, and more.
Mandatory insurance law
Alabama is a “tort” state where all drivers are required to have insurance. If you live in Alabama, you may have to prove you’re insured when you:
Are stopped by police
Get into an accident
Register your car
Get a request for proof in the mail from the Department of Revenue
Minimum Alabama coverage requirements
Alabama law has certain standards for car insurance policies. Those standards require every policy to include a minimum amount of liability coverage. The following table breaks down the requirements.
|Required coverage types||Minimum amount of coverage|
|Bodily injury liability||$25,000 for each person’s injuries in an accident|
|$50,000 total for all injuries in an accident|
|Property damage liability||$25,000 total per accident|
When someone driving your car causes an accident, it pays for victims’ medical and repair bills. However, it only pays up to a certain amount. Minimum policies include $50,000 worth of coverage for medical bills and $25,000 for property damages. If you get the minimum amount of liability insurance, you may see it referred to as 25/50/25 coverage. You can buy more than the minimums to be better protected.
Remember, liability doesn’t cover the driver’s medical bills or car repairs. It only covers those expenses for accident victims.
Penalties for driving uninsured
If you break the law and don’t buy coverage in Alabama, it could cost you. You could get stuck having to pay other people’s medical and repair bills if someone crashes your car. You could also get your registration suspended. On top of that, you could have to pay hundreds of dollars in fines and fees.
|Number of Offenses||Fine||License & Registration Suspension|
|1st||$500 maximum||Until proof of coverage is provided & $200 reinstatement fee is paid|
|2nd & subsequent||$1,000 maximum||4 months & until you: 1) Prove you’re insured 2) Pay $400 reinstatement fee|
If you try to game the system and provide false proof of insurance in Alabama, you could face the following:
6-month registration suspension (with the $200 reinstatement fee)
3-year SR-22 filing requirement
Alabama authorities can identify whether a car is insured using the Online Insurance Verification System (OIVS). OIVS updates and maintains a database that matches up registration data from the DMV and policy information from insurers. If a car is registered but has no matching policy information, chances are it’s uninsured.
Law enforcement can access the database for real-time verification. County officials will also check the database during the registration process.
Electronic proof of insurance
You may have to prove that you’re insured at traffic stops and after an accident. In Alabama, you can do so with your smartphone or other electronic device. That’s thanks to the electronic proof regulation that went into effect in 2012.
The regulation means a copy of your insurance ID card displayed on a smartphone or tablet works as proof. Many major insurers will provide you with an electronic proof of insurance card, which the industry calls an\ “e-card.”
For the electronic document to serve as valid proof of Alabama auto insurance, it should state all of the following:
Name of the insurer
Insurance policy number
Name and address of the insured driver
Make and model of each covered vehicle
In addition to liability coverage, there are optional coverages you can add. They’ll raise the cost of your insurance, but they’ll also provide greater protection. The following are the most widely available coverage add-ons in the state.
It pays for repairing or replacing the insured car if it’s damaged by something other than a collision. Some examples of this type of damage are vandalism, hail damage, and theft. Just over 7 out of every 10 drivers in Alabama bought this coverage in 2011, according to data from the National Association of Insurance Commissioners (NAIC).
It pays for repairing or replacing the insured vehicle after an accident. Just under 7 out of every 10 drivers in Alabama bought this coverage in 2011, according to data from the NAIC.
It pays your medical and funeral bills from an accident. It also does so for your family members and passengers. It provides coverage no matter who caused the accident.
Uninsured/underinsured motorists (UM/UIM) bodily injury
It pays your medical bills and the medical bills of your family and passengers after an accident. It does so when the driver who caused the accident either:
Doesn’t have insurance or fled the scene of the accident
Has insurance, but not enough to cover all your medical bills
“This coverage in effect takes the place of the insurance that the other driver should have purchased but did not,” according to the Alabama Department of Insurance (ADOI).
Stacking: Alabama law allows drivers to increase their uninsured motorist coverage through stacking. Stacking increases the amount of coverage you have. But it may also increase your premium.
You may be able to stack coverage if you have multiple cars under your policy or are insured through multiple policies. Stacking basically lets you combine the coverage from all those cars or policies when you file a large claim.
Stacking can differ from insurer to insurer. So check with your agent or company to find out your options.
Protection from uninsured drivers
Statewide, about 22% of drivers are uninsured, according to the Insurance Research Council. That’s one of the highest rates of uninsured drivers in the U.S. If someone crashes into you in Alabama, you have more than a 1-in-5 chance that they don’t have insurance. That means they won’t be able to pay for your damages after an accident.
If someone who injures you in an accident doesn’t have insurance, you may need to rely on your own policy. But not all people have the coverage they need.
Medical payments and uninsured motorist bodily injury will pay for medical bills for you, your family, and any passengers if they were injured by an uninsured driver. Collision will pay for repairing your car if it’s damaged by an uninsured driver. If you don’t have any of those coverages, you might not be able to get your medical bills and/or property damages covered in this situation.
Protection from storms
Alabama drivers should also consider extra insurance protection for storm damages.
Hail damage might not seem like a big risk, but the average hail-related claim in Alabama is around $2,400, according to data from the Highway Loss Data Institute. Since 2010, Alabama has also seen some devastating tornadoes rip through the region.
If you want to be able to use your car insurance for repairs after a hailstorm or tornado, you’ll need comprehensive coverage on your policy.
How claims work in Alabama
Alabama uses a “tort” system for car insurance claims. That means if someone injures you or wrecks your car, their liability insurance pays your medical and repair bills.
But in some cases, the other driver won’t be 100% responsible for the accident. Your actions could have contributed to the accident, and you could be partially responsible. This makes things a little more complicated.
Alabama uses “pure contributory negligence” to sort this out. That means if you are even 1% responsible for causing the accident, the other driver’s insurer doesn’t pay any of your bills. You have to completely rely on your own policy.
So which parts of your Alabama auto insurance coverage can help you with those expenses? Medical payments coverage will help pay your medical bills. Collision will help pay your repair bills. But both of those coverages are optional. You’ll be on your own if you didn’t add them to your policy.
Alabama auto insurance rates
Alabama car insurance premiums are much lower than average. The average cost of a policy in the state was nearly 14% lower than the 2011 national average, according to data from the NAIC.
If you drive safely, infrequently, or both, you may want to look into a usage-based discount program. These programs use a device you install in your car to track how far it’s driven and/or if it’s driven safely. Depending on how you drive, you could potentially get a discount of up to 30%.
The following major insurers offer usage-based discounts in the Heart of Dixie:
Alabama state law rewards older drivers who maintain their driving skills. Insurers in the state must give you a discount if you’re at least 55 years old and have recently completed an accident prevention course. The course must be approved by the state, and insurers must give you the discount only if you have kept a clean record. Once you have it, you can take an approved course once every 3 years to maintain the discount.
Eligible courses include those sponsored by the National Safety Council, AAA, AARP, or another course approved by the Department of Public Safety. When you’re considering which course to take, check with your insurer to make sure it’ll get you the discount.
In August 2012, the Alabama Legislature made it easier for drivers to get the discount by adding online driving courses to the list of approved courses. Also, the required instruction time was cut down to 6 hours.
Texting violations could increase rates
Don’t text and drive in Alabama. Staying off the phone not only improves your safety but also will help keep your premiums from rising. In 2012, an Alabama law prohibited texting while driving. If you violate the ban, it could end up increasing your car insurance rates. That’s because each violation brings a 2-point penalty on a driving record, which makes the offense about as serious as driving up to 25 mph over the speed limit or drinking alcohol while driving.
Tracking auto insurance price changes
State regulators allow consumers to see which Alabama car insurance companies are raising or lowering rates. Consumers can use the Rate Bulletin Search on regulators’ website. From the page, you can select to view rate changes by coverage type and the date that the changes went into effect. Or you can search by company.
Alabama car insurance companies
Alabama Automobile Insurance Plan
If you’ve had a hard time finding a car insurer who will cover you (usually because of marks on your driving record), you can still turn to the Alabama Automobile Insurance Plan. The Plan is the car insurer of last resort for the state’s high-risk drivers.
Is there a delay with your claim payout? Or is there another problem you want regulatory officials to know about? Go online, and regulatory officials can review your case if you submit a complaint about an Alabama auto insurer.
Did You Know?
Insurers in Alabama must give you a discount if you’re at least 55 years old and have recently completed an approved accident-prevention course. Approved courses are at least 6 hours long, and some are available online.