Optional No-Fault State
Kentucky is considered a no-fault state by default. 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. However, you can opt to reject the no-fault coverage, meaning you can’t receive no-fault benefits like PIP coverage.
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:
||7 days to 6 months
|Substance abuse treatment program
|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
Seat Belt Laws
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.
Distracted Driving 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.
Teen Driver Laws
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.
- Teens cannot drive between midnight and 6 a.m., except in emergencies or for school or work-related activities.
- Teens can only drive with a licensed adult who is at least 21 years old in the front seat.
- Drivers under age 18 are not allowed to drive with more than one unrelated person under age 20.
- Drivers under 18 cannot use a cell phone for any purpose while driving.8
Statute of Limitations for Claims
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.
Cancellation and Non-Renewal Notification Laws
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).
Car Inspection Requirements
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.
Defensive Driving Courses
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.