Here’s what you should know about car insurance and driving laws in Kentucky.
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There are more than 3 million licensed drivers in Kentucky, and any resident who owns a registered vehicle is required to carry car insurance. Fortunately for Kentucky residents, car insurance premiums in the Bluegrass State are cheaper than average.
The average Kentuckian spends $909 per year on auto insurance, which is 13 percent less than the U.S. average. And because Kentucky has optional no-fault insurance, drivers aren’t required to purchase multiple types of coverage aside from liability. But is it enough?
When you purchase a minimum coverage policy in Kentucky, it comes with $10,000 in personal injury protection (PIP).2 PIP pays for your medical expenses and lost wages if you get injured in an accident, regardless of who was responsible for the crash. However, you have the option to reject PIP if you don’t want the coverage.
As an alternative to a basic liability insurance policy, you can also purchase car insurance with a single policy limit of $60,000. If you choose this option, however, you must carry PIP. Learn more about minimum coverage requirements throughout the U.S., as they vary by state.
For the most protection, Kentucky drivers should consider purchasing additional policies and higher coverage levels. Here are several other types of auto insurance that can be beneficial, as well as and the amount of coverage we recommend for each one:
Although a minimum amount of liability insurance is required, you should consider raising your coverage limits for more financial protection in the event of an at-fault crash. We recommend having at least $500,000 in bodily injury and property damage liability coverage.
Comprehensive insurance is an optional policy that covers vehicle damage stemming from non-collision incidents, like falling objects, theft, vandalism, fires, flooding, and accidents with animals. Most comprehensive insurance policies compensate you based on the actual cash value (ACV) of your vehicle, which is equal to the purchase cost minus depreciation.
Collision insurance is another optional policy; it pays for your vehicle’s repairs when you cause an accident and your car sustains damage. Like comprehensive insurance, collision insurance reimburses you based on your car’s ACV. You can get comprehensive and collision insurance together when you purchase a full coverage insurance policy.
Uninsured motorist coverage will pay for your vehicle’s damages if you get hit by a driver who does not have insurance, or who does not have enough coverage to pay for your losses in full. In Kentucky, uninsured motorist insurance is optional, but we recommend adding it to your policy with a coverage limit of at least $500,000.
According to 2020 data from the National Association of Insurance Commissioners (NAIC), the average annual cost of car insurance in Kentucky is $919.3 Compared to the national average, Kentucky drivers spend 14 percent less on car insurance per year. Here’s a breakdown of average rates by coverage type:
Seeing average rates can be helpful, but keep in mind that car insurance premiums are personalized for every driver, based on factors like age, ZIP code, and the insurance company. When we researched car insurance rates in Kentucky, we found annual premiums as low as $682 and as high as $2,197. The only way to know for sure what you’ll pay for auto insurance in Kentucky is to get a car insurance quote.
To maintain a low rate, consider shopping around for new quotes at least once a year. That way, you can switch car insurance providers if you find a better rate from a different carrier.
After you purchase car insurance in Kentucky, you’ll need to keep proof of insurance on hand. If you get stopped, you may be asked to show proof of insurance to verify that you have the minimum required coverage. If you get pulled over and don’t have proof of insurance, you could face consequences.
In Kentucky, drivers are allowed to present a digital ID card as proof of insurance. Many insurance companies provide digital ID cards through a mobile app or an online customer portal. You can also carry a physical car insurance ID card if you prefer.
Kentucky is considered a no-fault state. Most drivers carry PIP, and their insurance company automatically pays for any medical expenses they incur after an accident, no matter which driver is responsible. Regardless, the at-fault driver pays for all property damage.
Kentucky uses pure comparative negligence laws to determine payouts in an accident when both drivers are partially responsible. This system allows an accident victim to collect compensation based on their percentage of fault.
For example, imagine that Driver A is seeking compensation from Driver B after Driver A sustained a concussion in a crash. If Driver B was only 40 percent responsible for the crash, they would be required to cover only 40 percent of Driver A’s medical bills.
In Kentucky, you’re not required to carry uninsured motorist insurance. However, having it can be very valuable due to the high number of uninsured drivers in the state.
As of 2019, an estimated 14 percent of Kentucky drivers do not have car insurance, even though it’s legally required.5 For comparison, about 12 percent of drivers are uninsured nationally.
If you choose to get uninsured motorist insurance in Kentucky and you have more than one car on your policy, you’re allowed to stack your coverage. When you stack coverage, your policy limit gets multiplied by the number of cars that are insured. For example, if you had policy limits of $50,000/$100,000 and two cars, your limits would increase to $100,000/$200,000.
Getting a DUI in Kentucky is a serious offense, and the conviction will stay on your record for 10 years. Here are the penalties for a DUI in Kentucky:
|Penalty||First offense||Second offense|
|Jail time||2-30 days||7 days to 6 months|
|License suspension||30-120 days||12-18 months|
|Substance abuse treatment program||90 days||1 year|
|Ignition interlock device||6 months (if DUI had aggravating circumstances)||Second offense more than a year after first: 6 months
Second offense within a year of first: 5 years
Third and subsequent offenses within 5 years: 30 months
In Kentucky, wearing a seat belt is a primary law in all seats for those 8 year old and older, or those under the age of 7 and over 57 inches tall.6 That means a law enforcement officer is allowed to cite you for not wearing a seat belt, even if you are breaking no other laws.
Kentucky does not have a blanket ban on the use of handheld devices, but drivers under the age of 18 are not allowed to use a cell phone while driving.7 In addition, it’s illegal for all drivers in Kentucky, regardless of age, to text and drive. The ban on texting and driving is a primary law that comes with a $25 fine for a first offense and a $50 fine for subsequent offenses.
A teen in Kentucky is allowed to get a learner’s permit, which costs $15, at age 16. Once the teen has a permit, they must follow certain rules.
The statute of limitations for auto insurance claims in Kentucky is two years for property damage claims and one year for bodily injury claims. After the statute of limitations passes, insurance companies are not obligated to approve and pay out claims. A driver can attempt to get compensation once the statute of limitations passes, but their claim may get denied.
Insurance companies are allowed to cancel your policy in the middle of the policy period. For example, if you lose your driver’s license or lie on your application, your policy can get canceled almost immediately.
In Kentucky, insurance companies must notify you at least 20 days before the cancellation date. If your policy gets canceled because you stopped paying the premium, the insurance company has 14 days to notify you before the policy terminates.
In addition, insurance companies can refuse to renew your policy when the policy period ends. This can happen if the insurance company decides to stop selling the policy you have or you get a DUI. The insurance company must explain their reason for nonrenewal before your policy is dropped, and they must provide at least 75 days’ notice before the termination date.
In lieu of a traditional car insurance policy, Kentucky drivers can choose to self-insure through the Kentucky Self-Insured Auto Program (KSAP). This requires posting a bond of $100,000 with the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV).
Kentucky does not require an annual car inspection like other states do. However, if you purchase a vehicle in another state or are registering a new vehicle for the first time, the sheriff in your previous county will need to verify the car’s VIN through an inspection.
When you go to the inspection, you need to bring your car and the title. In addition to the VIN check, the sheriff’s department will also do a safety check to make sure that the car is suitable for the road. You will have to pay a $5 fee in cash or by check. Check your county’s website to see inspection locations.
If you receive a traffic violation in Kentucky, you might be required to take a court-ordered defensive driving course. These courses teach you how to drive safely and avoid hazards.
There are online and in-person state-approved defensive driving courses. The cost for an online class is $39, and for an in-person class, the cost is $15.9 Most courses are four hours long.
Many insurance carriers offer discounts to drivers who voluntarily complete state-approved defensive driving courses. This is something to consider if you want to get a slightly lower premium.
In a no-fault state like Kentucky, a driver has limited rights to sue another driver for non-economic damages, such as pain and suffering, if they get seriously injured in an accident. This is also true for Kentucky drivers who reject PIP.
In Kentucky, the civil suit threshold is $1,000, and it applies to the following situations:
If you get into an accident in Kentucky and it results in $1,500 or more in injuries or property damage, or if the accident results in a fatality, you are required to report the accident to police immediately. If you don’t report the accident right away, you could face license suspension and a fine of up to $500.
In some states, insurance companies are not allowed to use certain criteria, like gender and credit score, when calculating car insurance rates. However, Kentucky does not have any price discrimination laws.
When you apply for a policy quote, the insurance company will factor your gender and credit score into your premium. Typically, drivers with a low credit score will pay a higher insurance premium. In addition, women typically pay lower rates in Kentucky because men are more likely to drive recklessly and get into accidents.
In Kentucky, car insurance companies consider a vehicle to be totaled when the cost of repairs exceeds 75 percent of the car’s ACV. Also, most insurance companies consider a car to be totaled when it meets the following criteria:
The cost of car repairs is different in every state. In Kentucky, the average cost of vehicle repairs is $389.01, which includes parts and labor. Having your car repaired in Kentucky is only about 1 percent more expensive than the national average.
Kentucky’s car theft rate is about 257 thefts per 100,000 inhabitants, based on 2020 data. That’s roughly 4 percent higher than the national average. However, some cities have higher theft rates than others. The top cities with the highest car theft rates in Kentucky are:
|Metropolitan statistical area||Motor vehicle thefts per 100,000 inhabitants in 2020|
|Louisville/Jefferson County, KY-IN||506|
|Bowling Green, KY||252|
|Elizabethtown-Fort Knox, KY||175|
The rate of traffic fatalities in Kentucky is 3 percent higher than the average rate in the U.S. In 2019, there were 732 fatalities per 100 million vehicle miles traveled.
Kentucky’s roads are mostly safe, but it’s still important to understand the unique driving laws and car insurance requirements in the state. Not only will it help you drive more safely, but it might also help you avoid unexpected penalties if you get pulled over. Further, driving safely and avoiding tickets and accidents can help you maintain a lower car insurance premium.
Car insurance in Kentucky is actually less expensive than the U.S. average. The average annual cost of car insurance in Kentucky was only $909 in 2020, 13 percent less than the national average, according to the NAIC.
However, car insurance rates are personalized, so you might pay more than average depending on factors such as your ZIP code, age, credit score, gender, and driving record. If you have poor credit, live in a city, are male, or have a bad driving record, your insurance rates will likely be higher.
On a monthly basis, the average car insurance premium in Kentucky is about $76, according to 2020 data from the NAIC. For a minimum coverage policy, the average monthly rate is even cheaper, at around $50. But remember that these are just averages; your actual rate will depend on your driver profile, your car, your insurance company, and the specifics of your policy.
The highest deductible for car insurance in Kentucky will depend on the insurance company you have, but it’s usually around $2,000. The higher your deductible is, the lower your premium will be. Only collision and comprehensive coverages require deductibles, however.
These are some companies with the cheapest car insurance in Kentucky:
Mandatory Insurance. Commonwealth of Kentucky. (2022).
No Fault Rejection/Verification (PIP). Kentucky Department of Insurance. (2022).
2019/2020 Auto Insurance Database Report. National Association of Insurance Commissioners. (2023, Jan).
Penalties for Driving without Auto Insurance by State. Consumer Federation of America. (2014).
One in Eight Drivers Uninsured. Insurance Research Council. (2021, Mar 22).
Seat Belts. Governors Highway Safety Association. (2021).
Kentucky Revised Statutes. Kentucky General Assembly. (2022).
Graduated Driver Licensing Program. Commonwealth of Kentucky. (2022).
Kentucky State Traffic School. Commonwealth of Kentucky. (2022).