From Trinidad to Fort Collins, from Boulder to Grand Junction, there are thousands of miles of roadways through the state of Colorado. On any given day, these roadways are used by four million (or more) licensed drivers.

Regardless of where you live in the Centennial State, having sufficient auto insurance is not only a commonsense practice, it's also a legal requirement. Keep reading to learn everything you should know about the Colorado auto insurance protection you need.

Auto Insurance Requirements in Colorado

Until 2003, Colorado was considered a no-fault state. This meant any driver involved in an accident could collect disability, medical, and any other type of compensation from their own insurance company, regardless of whether they were at fault for the accident or not.

In an effort to help reduce the cost of insurance premiums, prevent the abuse of claims, and shed restrictions for non-economic losses, including pain and suffering, the state made the switch to the tort system. Under this system, drivers seeking compensation have to establish fault before the claim is paid.

Additionally, any driver in the state of Colorado has to have auto insurance with the following minimums:

  • Bodily Injury Coverage: The state requires drivers to have $25,000 per person, as well as $50,000 per accident. The coverage applies to any accident that involves the injury or death of another person. Many experts recommend that you have at least a 100/300 policy, which means $100,000 per person and $300,000 per accident. Make sure to consider what you can afford when it comes to selecting the right coverage amount for car insurance.
  • Property Damage: The state requires you to carry coverage of $15,000 per accident. This liability policy provides coverage if damage occurs to someone else's property. In most cases, this refers to their vehicle, but it can also cover damage to utility poles, buildings, and other physical property.

Optional Auto Insurance in Colorado

In addition to the mandatory minimum amounts, Colorado drivers also have access to optional coverage. These are highly recommended and include:

  • Medical Payments: This is designed to cover part of your injuries caused by an accident, especially for the treatment of head trauma. As of January 1, 2009, insurers in Colorado are required to offer drivers $5,000 in coverage unless they opt out.
  • Uninsured or Underinsured Motorist Coverage: This is designed to cover damages and expenses when you are hit by a driver with no insurance, or who has insufficient coverage. Colorado insurers have to offer this coverage in the same amount as the bodily injury limits you choose, and you can only waive it if you reject it in writing.
  • Collision: This covers any damage to your vehicle caused by hitting another object, such as a wall, fire hydrant or another vehicle.
  • Comprehensive: As the name implies, this coverage provides insurance for all non-accident-related incidents, such as wildlife, extreme weather, and theft.

Special Factors Affecting Car Insurance in Colorado

With lower prices for gasoline in Colorado, more people are driving than ever before. This has resulted in more traffic and more accidents, which has caused an increase in claims, and as a result, premiums - even for those who have not been involved in an accident.

Another factor that may have an effect on auto insurance rates in Colorado is legalized marijuana. In fact, according to experts, every state where marijuana has been legalized, insurance premiums have gone up.

Colorado Auto Insurance vs. Other States

The state of Colorado ranks right in the middle when it comes to high and low insurance premiums among all the states. In fact, on one list, it ranked at number 26, with drivers paying on average $1,508 for their auto insurance each year.

What Determines the Cost of Your Colorado Auto Insurance Premium?

It is the Colorado Division of Insurance that regulates vehicle insurance premiums. Insurance companies can charge premiums and award discounts based on several factors, some of which include:

  • The type of vehicle you have (make, model, year, etc.)
  • Whether your vehicle is for business or personal use
  • Prior history of insurance coverage
  • How long you have been driving
  • How much you drive
  • Your geographic location
  • Your marital status
  • Your gender and age
  • Your driving record

Colorado also allows an insurer to consider your credit rating when determining what your insurance premium should be.

Keep in mind, if you drive a vehicle on the "most likely to be stolen" list, your risk of filing a claim is perceived to be higher. As a result, your premium is also likely to be higher. It's a good idea to purchase vehicles that are not on this list, which is one way to get a lower premium.

Getting the Auto Insurance Coverage You Need in Colorado

If you live in Colorado or are planning to move there, then getting to know the auto insurance requirements is a must - as is doing basic comparison shopping to find the best car Colorado auto insurance. By doing so, you can get an idea of what you are going to have to pay, and the type of coverage that you need to get. After all, there's nothing more important than making sure you're safe on the road - both physically and financially.