Published: February 7, 2022Updated: August 16, 2022

Guide to Auto Insurance in Colorado

Everything you need to know about driving safely and legally in Colorado

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All 4.2 million licensed drivers in Colorado are required to carry auto insurance for their vehicles. With a normal driving record, you’d be expected to pay around $1,174.87 annually on auto insurance. This price is nine percent above the national average of $1,070.47.

Are you moving to Colorado or just trying to brush up on laws in your state? There is so much to know about the requirements for auto insurance, costs, providers, state laws, and premiums specific to Colorado. We put it all on one page for your convenience.

Required Car Insurance in Colorado

For those trying to spend as little as possible on auto insurance in Colorado, here are the state minimums.

  • Property damage liability: There is a per-accident minimum of $15,000 in coverage for property damage liability. This covers damage to third parties’ vehicles or property that you or someone else on your policy made while driving your car.
  • Bodily injury liability: There is a minimum of $25,000 in coverage for bodily injury liability if the incident involves one person. If two or more people are involved, the coverage requirement is $50,000. This covers injuries or deaths that occur from you or someone else on your policy driving your car.

Property damage and bodily injury are the two areas covered under liability coverage. If you add comprehensive and collision coverage, it is considered full coverage. Full coverage is not required in Colorado, but each driver is required to have liability coverage at the minimum.

What Happens if You Don’t Have Insurance?

If you are caught driving without insurance in Colorado, there is a $500 fine and the possibility of your license being suspended.

How Much Coverage Do I Need?

Property damage liability and bodily injury liability are the bare minimum. You may want to look into additional coverage such as comprehensive and collision coverage, uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage, and personal injury protection.

Bodily Injury Liability

Since bodily injury liability covers others’ health and safety, it is important for you to have enough coverage. We recommend $500,000 in coverage.

Property Damage Liability

Paying out of pocket for property or vehicle damages can add stress to an already stressful situation. We recommend $500,000 in coverage so you don’t find yourself going over your limit.

Comprehensive

Comprehensive coverage is an optional addition that covers damage and loss from events other than collisions, including theft, hitting an animal, vandalism, or hail.

The limit for comprehensive coverage is the actual market value of your car. You can find the actual market value of your car by going to car pricing websites, such as Kelley Blue Book or Edmunds, and plugging in your model, make, year, and mileage. Understand that your car will have depreciated in price from the wear and tear of driving. The actual market value of your car is not what you paid for it, but what it is worth now.

Collision

Collision coverage pays for repairs due to at-fault accidents. We recommend getting collision coverage in case you hit a vehicle or object. The limit for collision coverage is the actual market value of your car.

Uninsured/Underinsured Motorist

Even though it is illegal to drive in Colorado without auto insurance, some still do. Uninsured or underinsured motorist coverage helps pay for damage to your vehicle if the at-fault driver doesn’t have enough or any liability coverage. Uninsured or underinsured motorist coverage covers hit-and-runs as well. We recommend getting the same amount of uninsured or underinsured motorist coverage as your bodily injury liability limits.

Personal Injury Protection (PIP)

If you have medical expenses or lost wages due to an accident, personal injury protection can cover costs up to your limit for you and your passengers, regardless of health insurance. When looking into PIP, consider your financial situation and health insurance. If you do not have health insurance, or have a high deductible on your health insurance, we recommend purchasing coverage with higher limits. We suggest $500,000 in coverage.

Cost of Car Insurance in Colorado

According to the National Association of Insurance Commissioners, which last released data in 2019, the average yearly cost of auto insurance in Colorado is $1,174.87. We’ve also seen estimates range from $518 to $2,016 per year.

Providers Available in Colorado

If you’re looking for car insurance in Colorado, consider the following companies:

  • Allstate
  • American Family Insurance
  • American National
  • Colorado Farm Bureau
  • Direct Auto
  • Esurance
  • Farmers
  • GAINSCO
  • GEICO
  • Grange Insurance Association
  • Nationwide
  • Progressive
  • State Farm
  • The General
  • USAA

How to Lower Premiums in Colorado

Here are some ways to lower insurance premiums in Colorado:

  1. Drop coverages, like comprehensive coverage or an old car.
  2. Lower your limits.
  3. Pay attention to the discounts that your auto insurance provider offers. We’ve seen discounts for being a loyal customer, being a good driver, being a good student, or taking a defensive driving course.
  4. Raise your deductible. The higher your deductible, the lower your premium becomes. If you couldn’t afford a higher deductible were you to get in an accident tomorrow, though, you shouldn’t raise it.

Proof of Car Insurance in Colorado

You can show proof of insurance by paper copy or digitally. If you get caught driving without proof of insurance, there are consequences.

  • First offense: A minimum fine of $500 and license suspension
  • Second offense: A minimum fine of $1,000, license suspension for four months, and imprisonment ranging from 10 days to one year
  • Third and subsequent offenses: $1,000 fine, eight-month license suspension, and up to 40 hours of community service

FYI

Every time you are caught driving without proof of insurance, you’ll receive four points on your driver’s license.

Driving Laws in Colorado

While understanding insurance for your vehicle is important, it is also important to know the laws of the road. Following the rules will protect you from fines, penalties, and license suspensions and revocations.

Fault System

Colorado is an at-fault state. This means that if you cause an accident, you are responsible for the other party’s property damage and bodily injuries. If it is a partial fault between two parties, you can split the costs according to fault.

Colorado has a modified comparative negligence law, which means that your damages are reduced by your percentage of fault in the accident. If your fault is greater than the third party’s, you get nothing.2

Uninsured Motorists

An estimated 16 percent of drivers in Colorado are uninsured, which accounts for around 690,368 people. Insurance companies are required to offer uninsured motorist coverage, but you are not required to hold either uninsured or underinsured motorist coverage.

When you have more than one car on your policy, you can stack uninsured and underinsured bodily injury coverage. Your selected limit would be multiplied by the number of cars on your policy. If you have limits of $50,000 or $100,000 and two cars, the limits would increase to $100,000 or $200,000.

DUI Laws

In Colorado, a DUI can stay on your record for five years. For the first offense, you could have your license suspended for four months. For repeat offenders with blood alcohol concentration above 0.15 percent, DUI interlocks are required.

Seat Belt Laws

Seat belts are required for drivers and front passengers. Colorado has only a secondary seat belt law, which means that it can only write a seat belt citation if there is another traffic citation. However, if the driver is under 18, the seat belt law is primary, which means that law enforcement can write a citation for not wearing a seat belt even if there is no other traffic violation.

Distracted Driving Laws

Colorado does not have a handheld ban for those over 18 years old. For drivers ages 16 to 18, any cell phone usage is banned. Texting while driving is illegal for all drivers, regardless of age. This is a primary enforcement. If you get caught texting and driving, you can be fined or even jailed if the incident involves injuries or death.

Teen Driver Laws

Teens and new drivers have restrictions that drivers with more experience do not. Those with learner’s permits must be accompanied by driving instructors, parents, legal guardians, or licensed adults 21 years or older in the front seat, buckled up.

Once teens receive their licenses, they cannot drive any passengers under 21 for the first six months unless a parent or other licensed driver over 21 is in the vehicle. After six months, one passenger under the age of 21 is allowed. Driving for medical emergencies is an exception to this law.

For the first year of having a license, drivers cannot drive between midnight and 5 a.m. unless accompanied by an instructor, parent, or legal guardian. Driving to or from work or school is an exception to this law if drivers have a signed statement from their employer or school. Exceptions are also made for medical emergencies and emancipated minors.

FYI

Curfews vary by city or county, so check the guidelines for your area before driving at night if you’re a new driver.

No driver under 18 is allowed to use their phone while driving. Being caught on your phone while driving can result in a fine or loss of license. Calls to the police and fire departments are exceptions to this law. New drivers must also wear seat belts at all times.3

Statute of Limitations for Claims

In Colorado, you have three years following an incident to file both property damage and personal injury claims. If you wait more than three years, your insurance is not required to cover your claims.

Cancellation/Non-Renewal Notification Laws

Auto insurance companies cannot cancel policies that have been in force for over 60 days unless you don’t pay the premium, you’ve committed fraud or misrepresentation, or your driver’s license has been revoked or suspended. If your provider wants to cancel your insurance policy midterm, it must notify you 45 days before cancellation. If the midterm cancellation is due to nonpayment, then it must notify you 10 days before.

If the company decides not to renew your policy at the end of the term, it must explain a reason and notify you 30 days before the expiration date. Non-renewals may occur because the company no longer offers that type of insurance, it doesn’t want to write so many policies in your area, or you have a DUI conviction.4

Self-Insurance

Colorado allows self-insurance, but only if you own over 25 vehicles. The minimum requirement is at the discretion of the insurance commissioner.5

Car Inspection Requirements

Colorado does not require yearly vehicle inspections, but you still should keep up to date on maintenance to make sure your car can get you from one place to the other safely.

SR-22s

An SR-22 is proof of minimum insurance. In Colorado, this specific form is required when you reinstate your license after revocation or suspension due to driving under the influence, driving without insurance, or, in some cases, having multiple traffic violations.

Defensive Driving

In lieu of paying a speeding ticket or having points added against your license, you can take a defensive driving course. Defensive driving means using safe driving strategies to avoid hazards. You can also take this type of course to get insurance discounts if you are 55 or older, depending on your provider.

Serious Injury and Monetary Thresholds

Colorado is an at-fault state, so each party pays for damages based on their degree of fault. If you don’t agree with the payout, you can file a lawsuit and seek uncompensated economic damages such as medical expenses or lost wages. You can also seek noneconomic damages like pain, suffering, and anxiety.6

Accident Reporting Requirements

You must report accidents involving death, injury, or any property damage to the police within 10 days. If you do not report the accident to the police, you might face a penalty of 10 to 90 days in jail, a $150 to $300 fine, or both in some cases.

Pricing Discrimination

In Colorado, it is legal for insurance companies to discriminate based on your credit score when they make decisions about your insurance premiums. It is also legal to discriminate based on gender, so men pay more for car insurance in this state.

When Is a Car Declared a Total Loss?

A total loss is when repairs for your vehicle would cost more than the vehicle’s estimated value, the vehicle cannot be safely repaired, or the damage meets your state’s total loss guidelines. In Colorado, if the repairs cost more than 100 percent of the car’s actual market value, it’s declared a total loss.

Contact Information

Now that you are aware of Colorado’s laws, it’s time for the next step. Whether you need to register your car, get a copy of your car title, or contact your state’s insurance department, we’ve got you covered.

Registration Information

After you obtain insurance, you will need to register your car. In order to register in Colorado, you need to call or visit your local DMV. Here’s how:

  1. Call 303-205-5600.7
  2. Visit the nearest office to show your documents, including your insurance card, a primary document such as a bill of sale, and a federal odometer statement.

How to Get a Copy of Your Car Title in Colorado

Here’s how to get a copy of your car’s title if you need it to prove ownership:

  1. Go to https://dmv.colorado.gov/sites/dmv/files/documents/DR2539A_2021.pdf.
  2. Print out the form.
  3. Fill it out.
  4. Include an $8.20 payment in an envelope with the form.
  5. Send it to this address:
    • Colorado Department of Revenue
      Vehicle Services Section
      P.O. Box 173350, Room 147
      Denver, CO 80217

How to Contact the Colorado Insurance Department

In case you have more questions about Colorado’s auto insurance laws, here is the contact information for the state insurance department.

  • Phone number: 303-894-7499
  • Mailing address:
    • 1560 Broadway, Suite 850
      Denver, CO 80202
  • URL: https://doi.colorado.gov/

Cost of Car Repairs in Colorado

If you get in an accident and need repairs, here are the average costs in Colorado.

  • Labor and parts: $401.55
  • Labor: $153.58
  • Parts: $247.97

Crime and Fatalities in Colorado

Crime rates affect insurance rates, as insurance companies calculate risk. In other words, the more crime in an area, the higher the average cost of auto insurance.

Motor Vehicle Theft

There were 524 motor vehicle thefts per 100,000 Colorado residents in 2020. This is 81 percent higher than the national average of 246 per 100,000 inhabitants. Rates were even higher in cities like Denver and Pueblo, which are among the top 10 cities for motor vehicle theft in the entire U.S.

Name of Metropolitan Statistical Area Rate of motor vehicle theft by 100,000 inhabitants in 2020
Denver-Aurora-Lakewood, CO 706
Pueblo, CO 602
Colorado Springs, CO 357
Greeley, CO 329
Grand Junction, CO 289
Boulder, CO 274
Fort Collins, CO 158

Traffic Fatalities

Colorado had 596 traffic fatalities per 100 million vehicle miles traveled in 2019. This is 19 percent lower than the national average of 708.

Recap

Driving and car insurance laws differ by state, so if you’re moving or traveling, it’s important to brush up before you drive. If you want to learn more, read our state-by-state driving statistics guide.

Frequently Asked Questions

Read on to learn more about auto insurance in Colorado.

Colorado’s average annual insurance rate is nine percent higher than the national average of $1,070.47, according to 2019 data from the National Association of Insurance Commissioners.

Drivers in Colorado pay an average of $97.91 monthly for auto insurance. This means they pay around $1,174.87 annually, according to average 2019 rates from the National Association of Insurance Commissioners.

If you’re looking to spend the least money possible on insurance, you can just get the minimum coverage. In Colorado, the minimum is liability coverage, which includes bodily injury and property damage. You must have at least $15,000 in coverage for property damage liability and $25,000 in coverage for bodily injury liability. For an accident involving two or more people, you need a minimum of $50,000 in bodily injury liability. We have seen estimates as low as $518 annually for minimum liability coverage in Colorado.

Insurance rates are so high in Colorado because there are several densely populated cities. This means more drivers and more accidents, which drives rates up.

Citations

  1. 2018/2019 Auto Insurance Database Report. National Association of Insurance Commissioners. (2022).
    https://content.naic.org/sites/default/files/publication-aut-pb-auto-insurance-database.pdf

  2. Colorado’s Modified Comparative Negligence Law. Mintz Law Firm. (2022).
    https://www.mintzlawfirm.com/colorados-modified-comparative-negligence-law/

  3. Teen Driving Restrictions. Colorado Department of Transportation. (2021).
    https://www.codot.gov/safety/colorado-teen-drivers/parent/teen-driving-restrictions.html

  4. 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

  5. Insurance: House Bill 03-1188. Colorado.gov. (2003).
    https://leg.colorado.gov/sites/default/files/images/olls/2003a_sl_234.pdf

  6. What Is the Difference between No-Fault and At-Fault Insurance States? HG.org Legal Resources. (2022).
    https://www.hg.org/legal-articles/what-is-the-difference-between-no-fault-and-at-fault-insurance-states-35152

  7. Contact Us – DMV. Colorado Department of Revenue. (2022).
    https://dmv.colorado.gov/contact-us-dmv