Published: March 29, 2022Updated: August 16, 2022

Car Insurance in New Mexico

New Mexico’s car insurance laws are relatively lax.

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New Mexico only requires drivers to have liability insurance, with a total liability limit of $85,000. Although this may sound like a big number, the average car insurance policy costs only $932.67 annually in New Mexico, 15 percent below the national average. That’s great news for all of the state’s licensed drivers, nearly 1.5 million people. Let’s learn more about New Mexico auto insurance.

Minimum Coverage in New Mexico

Driving in New Mexico requires bodily injury coverage and property damage coverage, which together make up liability coverage. Here are the liability limits you’ll need to satisfy the state’s minimum coverage requirements:

  • Bodily injury coverage per person: $25,000
  • Bodily injury coverage per accident: $50,000
  • Property damage coverage: $10,0001

Is Minimum Coverage Enough?

The minimum coverage is not enough, as it won’t cover any of your injuries or repairs in accidents you cause. For that, you’d need collision coverage, comprehensive coverage, and medical payments coverage.

While collision insurance would pay for your damages from at-fault collisions, comprehensive coverage would pay for damages from events other than collisions — think car vandalism, car theft (very common in New Mexico), and weather-related events. Medical payments coverage would pay for your medical bills in accidents you caused.

We also recommend buying uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage in case you get into an accident with someone either driving without insurance or driving without sufficient insurance, or if someone hits your parked car and leaves the scene, known as a hit-and-run.

Most insurance agents recommend liability limits of $500,000, while comprehensive and collision coverage should have limits as high as your car’s actual market value. Of course, this limit isn’t affordable for many people, so just buy as much insurance as you can afford. We recommend full-coverage car insurance over the minimum required for drivers in New Mexico, as long as you can find an affordable auto insurance company.

The Average Cost of Car Insurance in New Mexico

Car insurance in New Mexico is relatively inexpensive at just $932.67 a year, 15 percent lower than the average in the U.S., according to National Association of Insurance Commissioners data2. That said, $932.67 is just its average cost of insurance; expect to pay anywhere from $238 to $6,860.97 (for high-risk young drivers) per year.

Car Insurance Companies

Here are the auto insurance companies you can compare quotes from in New Mexico:

  • Allied
  • Allstate
  • American Family
  • California Casualty
  • Dairyland
  • Farm Bureau
  • Farmers
  • GEICO
  • Progressive
  • Safeco
  • State Farm
  • The Hartford
  • USAA

How to Lower Auto Insurance Costs

You can keep your car insurance rates as low as possible by only maintaining minimum coverage and limits, raising your insurance deductibles, or asking your insurance agent for auto insurance discounts. We’ve seen a wide range of discounts from providers over the years. You can get price cuts for the following:

  • Being accident-free
  • Taking a defensive driving course
  • Paying annually
  • Having low mileage
  • Bundling multiple types of policies under one provider
  • Adding multiple vehicles under one policy
  • Enrolling in automatic billing
  • Installing anti-theft devices in your car

FYI

Each company is different, so it’s best to ask your agent directly for ways to save.

Proof of Insurance

New Mexico is the only state that doesn’t explicitly allow digital proof of insurance. In other words, to be on the safe side, you should have your physical insurance ID with you whenever you’re driving. If you’re caught without proof, you’ll face the following penalties.

Penalty for driving without car insurance First offense Second offense
Maximum fine $300 $1,000
Maximum imprisonment 90 days 6 months
Suspension of registration Possibly, until you can show proof of insurance Yes, must surrender both license and registration3

State Laws

Compared to other states, New Mexico’s driving laws are fairly lax. For example, you won’t get any points on your driving record for texting and driving, and the maximum fine is only $50. Let’s dive deeper into the laws in the Land of Enchantment.

Fault System

Since New Mexico is an at-fault state, the party at fault in an accident is responsible for the other party’s bodily injury and property damage costs. However, under the state’s pure comparative negligence laws, accident victims can recover some amount of money for their injuries even if they were more at fault than the defendant.

Uninsured Motorist Coverage

It’s no secret that New Mexico doesn’t require uninsured motorist coverage, even though 22 percent of the state’s licensed drivers are uninsured, which is 43 percent above the national average4. Companies aren’t even legally required to offer you this coverage type, so many people may not know it exists.

However, if you have multiple cars and add on uninsured motorist coverage, you can multiply your limit by your number of cars. This is known as “stacked” coverage. So if you had three cars with uninsured motorist coverage limits of $10,000 each and got into an accident with an uninsured driver, your limit would be $30,000.

DUIs

New Mexico’s legal blood alcohol concentration limit is 0.08 percent for those 21 and older and 0.04 percent for those under 21. Even if you’re below the legal limit, if drugs or alcohol impaired your driving at all, you could be convicted of a DWI, leading to license revocation or criminal conviction.

Penalty First offense Second offense Third offense Fourth offense
License revocation for failing a chemical test 6 months if over 21; 1 year if under 21 1 year 1 year 1 year
License revocation for refusing a chemical test 1 year 1 year 1 year 1 year
Criminal conviction 1 year 2 years 3 years Lifetime
Commercial driver criminal conviction 1 year Lifetime Lifetime Lifetime5

Seat Belt Laws

All adults (18 and older) in all seats are legally required to wear their seat belts in New Mexico. This law is under primary enforcement, so police officers can stop you simply for not wearing your seat belt, without any other traffic violations.

Distracted Driving Laws

New Mexico has a texting and driving ban for all drivers, but it bans the use of all handheld devices for these drivers only:

  • Commercial drivers
  • Drivers with learner’s permits
  • Drivers with intermediate licenses

There is a $25 fine for the first offense and a $50 fine for subsequent offenses, with no points per violation6. These laws are under primary enforcement.

Teen Driving Laws

When teens get their provisional driver’s licenses, which they must hold for a year before graduating to a full license, they have certain restrictions:

  • They can’t have more than one passenger under the age of 21, unless an immediate family member or licensed driver over age 21 is in the car.
  • They can’t drive between 12 p.m. and 5 a.m. unless accompanied by a licensed driver over 21, with exceptions for driving to or from school, work, and religious functions, or for a family or medical need. However, they’ll need a statement from the appropriate parent, guardian, doctor, employer, or school/religious official.

To graduate to a full license, they must also maintain a clean driving record.

  • They must not have been convicted of a traffic violation 90 days before applying for a full license.
  • They must not have a pending violation at the time of the application.
  • They must not have been found guilty or had a pending offense involving the use of alcohol or drugs during the provisional period.7

When to File Claims

You need to file property damage claims within four years of the accident and personal injury claims within three years. Otherwise, your claim will fall outside of New Mexico’s statute of limitations and you won’t get compensation.

Cancellation and Non-Renewal Notification Laws

When it comes to cancellations and non-renewals, insurance companies are legally obligated to notify you before your policy expires. However, how long they have to notify you before the expiration date depends on the reason for the cancellation or non-renewal.

  • Cancellations due to substantial changes in your risk (such as a DUI): 30 days
  • Cancellations due to omissions, misrepresentations, or fraud: 15 days
  • Cancellations due to nonpayment: 10 days
  • Non-renewals: 30 days

NOTE

While a cancellation means your insurance provider canceled your policy in the middle of its term, non-renewal means they decided not to renew it at the end of its term. Learn more about canceling car insurance.

Self-Insurance

Instead of buying a personal auto insurance policy, you could self-insure your cars. However, it’ll require collateral, and the superintendent of insurance will determine the level of that collateral, according to New Mexico statutes.8

Emissions Testing

New Mexico does not require car inspections. However, you will need to undergo emissions testing if you live in Bernalillo County or commute to it at least 60 days per year. This applies to these vehicles:

  • Vehicles from 1987 and newer
  • Vehicles with a gross vehicle weight rating of 10,000 pounds or less
  • Gas-electric hybrids

The only exempt vehicles are dedicated electric and diesel vehicles. Otherwise, you’ll need to get your car tested every two years at certified Air Care Stations, which you can find at https://www.cabq.gov/airquality/vehicle-emissions-testing9.

SR-22s

New Mexico doesn’t require SR-22s — forms that prove minimum insurance — following any event like a license suspension or DUI conviction. That’s a good thing, as having an SR-22 certificate makes finding cheap car insurance a lot more difficult.

Defensive Driving Courses

Some car insurance providers offer a discount for taking a six-hour defensive driving course. You can find one here: https://transportation.unm.edu/driver-safety-clients-students.

Civil Suits: When You Can File

While some states require a minimum dollar amount lost or serious injury level before you file, New Mexico doesn’t have a threshold for civil suits. In New Mexico, you can sue for economic and noneconomic damages after a car accident, no matter the circumstances.

Accident Reporting Requirements

You might already know you need to file a police report for your claim, but did you know you may be legally required to file a police report for a car accident whether you have a claim or not? If you get into an accident with any injury, property damage, or death worth over $500, you must report it to the police immediately and to the New Mexico Department of Transportation within five days. Otherwise, you could face a license suspension.

Pricing Discrimination Laws

Unlike some other states, New Mexico doesn’t ban car insurance providers from determining premiums based on credit scores and gender. That’s bad news for men and people with bad credit, who can expect higher rates than women and people with good credit.

Total Loss

In New Mexico, your car will be declared a total loss if its salvage value is less than the cost of the repairs. In that case, insurance would pay for your car to be replaced, not repaired.

Contact Information

Whether you need to register your car, get a duplicate title, or contact New Mexico’s insurance department, here are all of the nitty-gritty details to know.

Registering Your Car

For new registrations, you must go into a field office. You can find your nearest office at https://www.mvd.newmexico.gov/maps-and-locations. Be sure to bring these documents:

  • Original manufacturer’s certificate of origin (MCO)
  • Original or certified copy of the purchase agreement or dealer’s invoice
  • Odometer statement – either the odometer mileage statement on the back of your MCO, MVD Form 10187 (https://www.mvd.newmexico.gov/wp-content/uploads/2020/12/mvd10187.pdf), or MVD Form 10002 (https://www.mvd.newmexico.gov/wp-content/uploads/2020/12/mvd10002.pdf)
  • Proof of insurance, which can be a current insurance card, a copy of your current policy, or a letter from your insurance company that verifies your coverage
  • Proof of New Mexico residency, such as a utility bill, bank statement, or pay stub
  • Proof of identity, such as a birth certificate or passport

The fee depends on your car’s weight and model year. One-year registrations range from $27 to $62, while two-year registrations range from $54 to $124.

Renewing your registration is an easier process and costs $60. You can do it online, by mail, or in person.

  • Online: Get your control number, your license plate number, the last six digits of your vehicle identification number (VIN), and your credit card information, then go to https://eservices.mvd.newmexico.gov/eTapestry/_/. You’ll get a 5 percent discount for renewing online, although there is a $1.55 fee for using a credit card.
  • Mail: Send your registration renewal form and a check made out to the New Mexico Motor Vehicle Division to this address:
    • Registration Renewal Section
      Motor Vehicle Division
      P.O. Box 25129
      Santa Fe, NM 87504-5129
  • In person: Visit a field office with cash or a check.

MVD Contact Information

You have three options for general contact with the New Mexico Motor Vehicle Division.

  • Mail:
    • New Mexico Motor Vehicle Division
      Joseph Montoya Building
      P.O. Box 1028
      1100 S. St. Francis Drive
      Santa Fe, NM 87504-1028
  • Phone: 888-683-4636
  • Online: https://www.mvd.newmexico.gov/contact-us

Duplicate Car Title

If you lost your car title, you can get a new one through the mail.

  1. Print and fill out the form. You can find the form at https://www.mvd.newmexico.gov/wp-content/uploads/2020/12/mvd10901-1.pdf.
  2. Get the document notarized if necessary. If you aren’t the owner of the car but are the owner’s legal representative, you need the form notarized. If you are the owner, you don’t need to get the form notarized.
  3. Include the payment. Enclose a $5 payment for the fee in the envelope with the form.
  4. Send the form. Mail the form and payment to this address:
    • Vehicle Services Bureau
      P.O. Box 1028
      Santa Fe, NM 87504

State Insurance Department

You can contact New Mexico’s insurance department directly via these options.

  • Online: https://www.osi.state.nm.us
  • Phone: 855-427-5674
  • Mail:
    • 1120 Paseo de Peralta, Suite 428
      Santa Fe, NM 87501

Cost of Car Repairs in New Mexico

At $380.17, car repairs in New Mexico cost only 1 percent less than the national average. That’s $148.73 for labor and $231.44 for parts.10

Auto Theft and Traffic Fatality Rates

If you live in New Mexico, particularly in the city of Albuquerque, car theft should be on your radar. Its traffic fatality rates, thankfully, are lower than the U.S. average.

Car Theft

New Mexico ranks third nationally in car theft rates, after Colorado and Washington, D.C. At 428 thefts per 100,000 inhabitants, auto theft happens in New Mexico 42% more than the national average.

In Albuquerque, car theft is even more common than in the rest of the state at 632 per 100,000 inhabitants. Other cities have rates lower than the state average, however.

City in New Mexico Number of motor vehicle thefts per 100,000 inhabitants in 2020
Albuquerque 632
Las Cruces 318
Santa Fe 290
Farmington 190

Albuquerque is not only the worst city for car theft in New Mexico, but also the sixth worst in the entire country, according to National Insurance Crime Bureau data. Why is it so common there?

“Due to the fact that we are adjacent to an International Border, we are always ranked high on the list for theft rates,” says the city of Albuquerque’s website. “Typically, vehicles are stolen for one of three reasons. They are used to joy ride, sell for parts, or driven across the border for resale.”

Learn more about our auto theft research.

Traffic Fatality Rates

Fortunately, New Mexico’s traffic fatality rates aren’t nearly as high as its car theft rates, with only 424 fatalities per 100 million vehicle miles traveled. That’s 67 percent lower than the national average, according to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety.

Recap

Compared to other states, New Mexico has lax driving and car insurance laws, with only liability insurance required, no handheld ban for all drivers, and no fines for DUI offenses. Learn about other states in our state driving guide.

Frequently Asked Questions

Read on to learn more about car insurance in the Land of Enchantment.

Car insurance is required in New Mexico, specifically liability coverage. You’ll need these liability limits:

  • $25,000 of bodily injury coverage per person
  • $50,000 of bodily injury coverage per accident
  • $10,000 of property damage coverage

The cheapest car insurance in Mexico is around $238 a year. These are some of the cheapest car insurance companies in New Mexico:

  • Allstate
  • Central
  • Encompass
  • Farm Bureau
  • Farmers
  • GEICO
  • MetLife
  • Nationwide
  • Progressive
  • State Farm
  • USAA

Car insurance is not expensive in New Mexico. In fact, it costs an average of 15 percent less there than in the rest of the country. The latest National Association of Insurance Commissioners data showed that the average rate was only $932.67 annually.

The average cost of car insurance in Mexico is $932.67 a year, according to 2019 data from the National Association of Insurance Commissioners. Breaking it down by coverage type, the average annual costs are as follows.

  • Liability: $584.25
  • Collision: $315.88
  • Comprehensive: $222.43

Citations

  1. New Mexico Auto Insurance Requirements. RMIIA. (2015).
    http://www.rmiia.org/auto/steering_through_your_auto_policy/Auto_Insurance_New_Mexico_Requirements.asp

  2. 2018/2019 Auto Insurance Database Report. NAIC. (2022).
    https://content.naic.org/sites/default/files/publication-aut-pb-auto-insurance-database.pdf

  3. Penalties for Driving without Auto Insurance by State as of January 2014. Consumer Federation of America.
    https://consumerfed.org/pdfs/140310_penaltiesfordrivingwithoutautoinsurance_cfa.pdf

  4. One in Eight Drivers Uninsured Insurance Research Council. (2021, Mar).
    https://www.insurance-research.org/sites/default/files/downloads/UM%20NR%20032221.pdf

  5. DWI Information. MVD New Mexico.

    https://www.mvd.newmexico.gov/nm-drivers-licenses-ids/dwi-information/#:~:text=In%20New%20Mexico%2C%20it%20is,you%20drive%20a%20commercial%20vehicle

  6. 52ND LEGISLATURE – STATE OF NEW MEXICO – FIRST SESSION, 2015. New Mexico Legislature.

    https://www.nmlegis.gov/sessions/15%20Regular/bills/house/HB0104.PDF

  7. Teen Drivers A Guide to New Mexico’s Graduated Driver’s License. The University of New Mexico.

    https://transportation.unm.edu/assets/NM-GDL-Law.pdf

  8. 2018 New Mexico Statutes. Justia US Law. (2022).
    https://law.justia.com/codes/new-mexico/2018/chapter-66/article-5/section-66-5-207.1/

  9. Vehicle Emissions Testing. City of Albuquerque. (2022).
    https://www.cabq.gov/airquality/vehicle-emissions-testing

  10. 2020 State Repair Cost Rankings. CarMD. (2022, Jul).
    https://www.carmd.com/wp/vehicle-health-index-introduction/2020-carmd-state-index/