Everything you need to know about driving in the Grand Canyon State
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Navigating auto insurance policies can be overwhelming. From required coverage to driving laws, we compiled all you need to know about car insurance in Arizona. Get your questions answered on safe driving regulations and practices so you and your vehicle stay protected on Arizona roads.
There are many types of insurance to suit specific needs, but the most most important are liability, comprehensive, and collision coverage. Liability insurance covers others’ medical and repair expenses when you cause an accident. Collision insurance covers damages to your vehicle in an accident with another vehicle or objects, no matter who is at fault.
Comprehensive insurance covers your property costs in accidents when damage wasn’t due to a collision. Coupling these coverages with Arizona’s required liability insurance provides basic protection whether you are at fault or not in an accident.
Additional coverages to increase your safety net include uninsured motorist (UM) coverage and medical payments coverage. UM coverage protects you in accidents with a driver who lacks insurance or whose insurance falls below state minimums. Medical payment coverage pays your medical expenses regardless of fault, but does not cover lost wages or childcare.
Insurance limits are the maximum amount your policy will pay toward a claim for each type of coverage. You are responsible for any costs that exceed your policy’s limits, so get the highest limits you can afford. State requirements are usually lower than the amount you’ll need in the event of an accident. Instead of basing your coverages on state minimums, consider higher coverage limits.
Your limits should be high enough to protect your assets in the event of an accident. The standard coverage for most drivers is around 100/300/50: $100,000 per person and $300,000 per accident in bodily injury liability, and $50,000 per accident in property damage liability. This standard works on a scale.
The higher your car and assets value, the higher your limits can be, such as 250/500/125. The lower your car and asset value, the lower your limits should be, such as 50/100/25.
It’s important for your plan to cover damages from natural disasters under comprehensive coverage. Arizona is prone to flash flooding during monsoon season, from mid-June through September, which could cause storm damage to your vehicle.
The average rate of car insurance for Arizona was $1,042 in 2020.2 This is less than 1 percent less than the national average of $1,047, and breaks down into these averages depending on coverage type:
The cost of a full coverage plan in Arizona ranges from $916 to $2,423 annually. Expect lower car insurance rates if you have a clean driving record, or higher auto insurance rates for young drivers or people with a poor driving history. To get the cheapest car insurance available, compare the cost of car insurance from multiple companies.
Picking a large provider doesn’t guarantee better coverage. Look at customer service ratings and complaints when deciding between providers.
When driving in Arizona, you’ll need proof of insurance, whether it takes the form of a physical ID card or a digital ID housed in an app. The medium for electronic proof of insurance depends on your provider.
You could face penalties if you’re caught driving without insurance:
|Penalty||First offense||Second offense||Third offense|
|License plate taken||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|License and registration suspension||3 months||6 months||1 year|
You must file proof of financial responsibility (an SR-22) if you commit third or subsequent offenses within 36 months of the first offense.3
Arizona is an at-fault state, meaning the at-fault party pays for both property damage and bodily injury. In terms of negligence laws, Arizona is a pure comparative negligence state. Pure comparative negligence laws rule that accident victims can recover money for injuries no matter how negligent they were, even if their degree of fault was higher than the opposing party’s.
Although UM coverage isn’t a requirement in Arizona, many companies still offer it. While this coverage is not necessary, it provides extra protection while on the road, since 12 percent of drivers in Arizona were uninsured in 2019, which is equal to the national average.4
Stacking is the act of combining coverage for multiple vehicles. Unfortunately, Arizona operates unstacked. If you have more than one car on your policy, you cannot apply uninsured/underinsured bodily injury coverage across your vehicles.
It is unlawful to be under the influence of liquor or drugs while driving, because that can inhibit your capability to control a vehicle. When you receive your license in Arizona, you consent to test for blood alcohol or drug content (BADC). The term for the interlock in Arizona is Certified Ignition Interlock Device (CIID).
If you fail a BADC test and are charged with a DUI, it will stay on your driving record for seven years.5 The type of DUI determines BADC thresholds and penalties:
|License suspension (minimum length)||90 days||90 days||1 year|
|Imprisonment||At least 10 consecutive days||At least 30 consecutive days||No more than 2 years|
|Minimum fine||$1,250||$2,500||Determined by case|
|CIID on vehicle||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|Alcohol screening, education, and treatment||Yes||Yes||Yes|
These are some other instances when you would be required to install a CIID:
Anyone older than 8 is required to wear a seat belt in Arizona, no matter what seat they’re in. Arizona operates under secondary seat belt law,6 which means an officer can only issue a ticket for not wearing a seat belt when there is another citable traffic infraction.
Arizona has a hands-off policy, meaning it is illegal to talk or text on a cellphone while driving unless the device is in a hands-free mode. This hands-off policy combats distracted driving, especially texting and driving.
Here are the fees for using a phone while driving:
If you’re under 18, you can apply for a graduated instruction permit or a graduated driver’s license. For either a graduated permit or license, you must pass written and vision tests and bring a completed application with original supporting documents to the Arizona Motor Vehicle Division (MVD). Find original supporting document requirements here: https://apps.azdot.gov/files/mvd/mvd-forms-lib/40-5144.pdf.
There are specific regulations under each certification:
|Requirement||Graduated instruction permit||Graduated driver’s license|
|Age||Must be at least 15 years and 6 months old||Must have held a graduated instruction permit for at least 6 months and be at least 16 years old|
|Supervision||Must have a licensed driver (at least 21 years old) in the front seat at all times||Must have a licensed driver (at least 21) in the front seat if past curfew or transporting more than 1 passenger|
|Curfew||None||For the first 6 months, cannot drive between midnight and 5 a.m. unless driving to or from a sanctioned school-sponsored activity, religious activity, or place of employment, or because of a family emergency|
|Passengers||Any||Cannot drive with more than 1 passenger under 18 unless the additional passengers are your siblings|
For drivers younger than 18, the application for an instruction permit or driver’s license requires an adult signature. The adult will be responsible for any negligence or willful misconduct when the teen is driving.
Many providers offer discounts for being a good student. If your child is driving on your plan, ask your provider about discounts for good grades. This type of discount usually applies to students ages 16 to early 20s who have B averages or above.
In Arizona, you have two years from the date of the accident to file a claim for both personal injury and property damage. If you don’t file within the first two years, you probably won’t be able to recover any compensation.
Auto insurance companies cannot cancel policies that have been in force for over 60 days except under the following circumstances:
A non-renewal happens when either you or your company decides not to renew the policy once it expires. Insurance companies must give you notice or explanation before dropping a policy. A provider may drop a policy if it no longer offers that type of insurance, if it doesn’t want to write as many policies in your area, or if you were driving under the influence.7
In Arizona, companies must notify you 30 days prior to the expiration date for cancellation or nonrenewal, regardless of the reason.
Arizona allows self-insurance if you own more than 10 vehicles. The minimum required collateral is $90,000. However, most people will go the standard personal car insurance route.
Vehicle inspections match a vehicle identification number (VIN) to ownership documents to determine the identity of the vehicle, and in some cases, to verify the vehicle is properly equipped for highway use. At an inspection, you’ll need the following documents:
Fee and location requirements depend on the level of your inspection request:
|Level I||Level II||Level III|
|Purpose||For title requests, bonded titles, or out-of-state/country vehicles without proof of title and/or registration||When circumstances indicate secondary VIN(s) should be verified for proper vehicle identification||When a vehicle is restored from salvage, recovered from being stolen, or has been involved in a collision|
|Location||MVD offices or by designated law enforcement officers
Location finder: https://azdot.gov/motor-vehicles/mvd-hours-and-locations
|By appointment at ADOT ECD inspection locations
Location finder: https://azdot.gov/node/4916
|By appointment at ADOT ECD inspection locations|
Additional $5 if an Arizona assigned number is issued
|$50, or $30 if Level II inspection has already been conducted|
An SR-22, or a Financial Responsibility Insurance Certificate, verifies that you have motor vehicle liability insurance. You may be required to carry an SR-22 if you’re caught driving under any of these circumstances:
You are required to maintain proof for three years from the date you became eligible for reinstatement. Your license and registration will be suspended if you fail to maintain your SR-22.
Defensive driving uses safe strategies to let motorists avoid hazards. You may take a course voluntarily to dismiss certain violations and their associated points, or the state may require you to take a defensive driving course. In either case, you can only get one violation dismissed for attendance, even if you received multiple traffic violations at once. You cannot take a defensive driving course if you attended one within the last 12 months.
You can find Arizona’s eligible violations that would require a defensive driving course at https://bit.ly/3723qOO. If you were involved in a serious injury accident or fatal accident, you are not eligible.
You may take classes in person or online. If a judge orders you to attend the course in person, you must register for a classroom course. You must complete your course no later than seven days prior to your court date. After successful completion of an Arizona-certified defensive driving program, the court is required to forward the record of judgment to the Arizona Motor Vehicle Division.
In Arizona, there is no monetary or serious injury threshold for civil suits. No thresholds mean that regardless of the losses or injuries, you have the right to file a civil lawsuit after the accident.
Arizona requires immediate reporting for all accidents. You must share verbal or written communication, whichever is quickest, with the nearest local police department, office of the county sheriff, or office of highway patrol immediately after an accident. You must remain at the scene to provide your information and aid to any injured person.
If you fail to report an accident, the nature of the accident determines the maximum penalty for your first offense:
|Type of accident||Charge||License suspension (in years)||Imprisonment||Probation (in years)||Fine|
|Damage to a non-vehicle||Class 3 misdemeanor||1||30 days||1||$500 plus surcharges|
|Damage to a parked vehicle||Class 3 misdemeanor||1||30 days||1||$500 plus surcharges|
|Damage to your vehicle, no resulting injury||Class 2 misdemeanor||1||4 months||2||$750 plus surcharges|
|Non-serious injury||Class 5 felony||3||2.5 years, or more if you have a prior felony conviction||3||$150,000 maximum, at judge’s discretion|
|Serious injury or death (not your fault)||Class 3 felony||5||8.75 years, or more if you have a prior felony conviction||5||$150,000 maximum, at judge’s discretion|
|Serious injury or death (your fault)||Class 2 felony||10||12.5 years, or more if you have a prior felony conviction||7||$150,000 maximum, at judge’s discretion|
Common factors that determine your premiums include your driving record, how much you use your car, your location, your age, and the car you drive. In Arizona, credit scores are one of many factors an insurance company can consider when determining how much to charge. Drivers with poor credit (300-579) in Arizona pay over double the amount those with exceptional credit (800-850) pay.
Gender is another factor that has a major impact on auto insurance costs in Arizona. Typically, men pay more for insurance due to higher fatality rates, DUI rates, and increased likelihood of being stopped by police.
Total loss threshold equals a vehicle’s repair cost divided by its actual cash value (AVC). Insurance companies use this percentage to determine if a vehicle is a total loss or worth repairing. In Arizona, the total loss threshold is 65 percent, so if the repair cost is 65 percent or more compared to the ACV, the insurer will mark the car’s status as totaled.
In Arizona, whenever you buy a vehicle, you must apply for a title within 15 days of purchase or you may face penalties. Here’s how to avoid penalties and register your car:
Arizona’s average repair costs totaled $385.56 in 2020.8 This cost was 1 percent higher than the national average of $383.37. On average, that breaks down into $242.12 for parts and $144.44 for labor.
Arizona had 242 car thefts per 100,000 inhabitants in 2020, making car theft 2 percent less common than in the rest of the nation.9 The rate in Arizona’s most populous cities hovers around the national average of 246, but that drops off significantly as the population density decreases.
|Arizona metropolitan statistical area||Rate of motor vehicle theft per 100,000 inhabitants in 2020|
|Lake Havasu City-Kingman||250|
Unfortunately, Arizona had 981 deaths per 100 million vehicle miles traveled in 2019, a rate that sits 28 percent above the national average. Arizona ranks eleventh in the nation for traffic fatality rates.
Several issues coalesced to cause the spike in traffic-related crashes. Despite lower travel rates due to many people working remotely during the COVID-19 pandemic, Arizona’s fatal car crashes increased because of distracted, impaired, and reckless driving. More specifically, fatalities reached a 12-year high in 2020 because of speed-related crashes, lane-departure incidents, and a lack of seat belts.
Exploring Arizona’s auto insurance regulations can help you pick the best coverage for your needs. Keep safe driving practices in mind and carry proof of insurance as you embark on those desert roads.
Even if you’re not the one driving, your insurance will cover the applicable damages. In Arizona, insurance coverage follows the car, not the driver. Most policies will cover resulting damage so long as the driver at the time of the accident holds a valid license.
All residents of the greater Phoenix and Tucson areas and those who commute into these areas for work or school regularly are required to have their 1967 or newer vehicles pass emissions tests. Most vehicles newer than six years old are exempt from testing, and other vehicle exemptions apply. However, if you don’t meet these requirements, you won’t need an emissions test in Arizona.
If you drive occasionally but don’t own a car, consider non-owner insurance. Non-owner insurance is a form of minimum liability coverage, so it covers injuries and property damage of others in an accident you cause. It’s used only as secondary coverage to supplement the borrowed car’s insurance policy.
Non-owner insurance is a good option if you don’t own a car and want to avoid lapses in coverage, are court-ordered to maintain insurance, or rent or borrow cars regularly.
You must be of the age of majority to sign for your insurance coverage. Age of majority is when you become an adult in the eyes of the state; in Arizona, this is age 18. However, there is an exception for emancipated minors, as they have the full legal rights of an adult and thereby can enter into contracts.
Vehicle Insurance Information. ADOT. https://azdot.gov/motor-vehicles/vehicle-services/vehicle-insurance-information
2019/2020 Auto Insurance Database Report. NAIC. (2023, Jan).
Penalties for Driving without Auto Insurance by State. Consumer Federation of America. https://consumerfed.org/pdfs/140310_penaltiesfordrivingwithoutautoinsurance_cfa.pdf
One in Eight Drivers Uninsured. Insurance Research Council. (2021, Mar). https://www.insurance-research.org/sites/default/files/downloads/UM%20NR%20032221.pdf
State Ignition Interlock Laws. NCSL. (2021, Sept). https://www.ncsl.org/research/transportation/state-ignition-interlock-laws.aspx
Seat Belts. GHSA. (2021). https://www.ghsa.org/state-laws/issues/seat%20belts
What’s the difference between auto policy cancellation and nonrenewal? Insurance Information Institute. (2022). https://www.iii.org/article/whats-the-difference-between-auto-policy-cancellation-and-nonrenewal
2020 State Repair Cost Rankings. CarMD. (2020, Jul). https://www.carmd.com/wp/vehicle-health-index-introduction/2020-carmd-state-index/
Crime in the United States. FBI. https://ucr.fbi.gov/crime-in-the-u.s/2019/crime-in-the-u.s.-2019/topic-pages/tables/table-4
NICB ‘Hot Spots’: Auto Thefts Up Significantly Across the Country. NICB. (2021, Aug). https://www.nicb.org/news/news-releases/nicb-hot-spots-auto-thefts-significantly-across-country