What To Do If You’re In a Car Accident Without Insurance But Not At Fault In Iowa

Driving without sufficient liability insurance in Iowa could put you in serious financial and legal trouble—especially after an accident.
Written by Melanie Krieps Mergen
Reviewed by Shannon Martin
If you’re involved in a car accident in Iowa but don’t have insurance, you could face serious legal and financial consequences. Without sufficient liability coverage, you could be responsible for paying for others’ damages out of pocket.
Car accidents are stressful and costly—and even more so if you or another driver doesn’t have insurance. Here to give you a look at what can happen when you’re in an accident without insurance—and how to find an
Iowa car insurance
policy that helps protect you from the worst consequences in the first place—is
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What to do if you’re in a car accident without insurance in Iowa and not at fault

Driving without car insurance in Iowa is against the law—and if you’re ever involved in an accident, it could get you into legal and financial trouble. If you get into a car accident in Iowa but don’t have car insurance, here’s what you should do.
Firstly, and most importantly: don’t flee the scene of the accident. Although you might want to avoid getting yourself into trouble because of your lack of insurance, you’ll only make your problems worse if you do so. 
Leaving the scene of an accident in Iowa can result in a simple misdemeanor charge and a scheduled fine of $135, but more severe accidents could result in more serious consequences. If an accident results in the death or injury of a person, the driver of a vehicle involved could face class C or D felony convictions.
Instead, remain at the scene of the accident, pull over to safety, and try to stay calm. Check yourself and your passengers for injuries and call 911 if necessary. If there are no injuries and no immediate public safety risks at the scene, call the local police department’s non-emergency number and wait for law enforcement to arrive.
In the meantime, you can exchange information with the other driver(s), including:
  • Names and contact information
  • Vehicle descriptions (makes, models, license plate numbers, etc.)
  • Insurance information (including the policy number)
  • Witness names and contact information
If you don’t feel safe doing so, however, you can wait until law enforcement arrives. It can also be helpful to document the scene with photos or videos in case you need evidence to support that you weren’t at fault later.
If you’re found not at fault for the accident, the driver who is at fault will be responsible for your injuries and/or damage to your vehicle. If they don’t have insurance, you can file a lawsuit to recover costs for damages like car repairs, medical expenses, or lost income. However, if you were deemed partially negligent as a result of the accident, your settlement might be reduced based on your at-fault percentage.

Who decides fault in a car accident in Iowa?

Law enforcement will compile an accident report, which insurance adjusters will reference when determining fault in an accident based on state driving laws and the events that took place. However, insurance companies have the final say in who is at fault. 
This is where your own documentation of information becomes important. You’ll want to provide any photos, videos, or other evidence in your claim with an at-fault driver’s insurance company to help support your case if you weren’t responsible for the accident. 
For your own reference, you can also obtain a copy of an officer’s accident report—or one that you submitted yourself—by submitting a form that can be found on the
Iowa Department of Transportation (DOT) website
. Just note that a small fee applies.

Do you need to report a car accident in Iowa? 

The Iowa DOT states that accidents should be reported to the nearest law enforcement agency any time an accident results in injury, death, or $1,500 or more in property damage within 72 hours—and it’s still important to remember leaving the scene of an accident is illegal.
If law enforcement doesn’t investigate an accident, drivers must submit an
Iowa accident report
form. Failure to do so can result in a
suspended license
. However, if law enforcement responds to your accident, you won’t have to worry about filing a report yourself.

What if you’re at fault?

The consequences can add up quickly if you are found at fault for an accident, especially when uninsured. Because
Iowa is a modified comparative negligence state
, you’ll be financially responsible for your portion of the other driver’s damages if you are deemed a certain percentage negligent for the accident. 
For example, if you were found 51% negligent, you could be responsible for 51% of damage costs. And as long as you’re not 51% or more at fault yourself, you’re eligible for compensation from the at-fault driver. 
If you don’t have insurance, the not-at-fault driver can file a lawsuit against you to recover these damages. 

What if you’re hit by an uninsured driver in Iowa?

About 11.3% of motorists in Iowa were uninsured as of 2019, according to data from the
Insurance Information Institute (II)
. That translates to a little more than 1 out of 10 drivers. While other states may have higher percentages, getting into a car accident with an uninsured driver in Iowa is still a very real possibility.
So what happens if an at-fault driver doesn’t have insurance but you do? How do you recover damages from an uninsured driver?
As mentioned above, you can file a lawsuit to recover damages from an at-fault driver after an accident. But in some cases, even if a settlement works out in your favor, it might take a while for the at-fault driver to come up with your settlement money—especially in severe cases.
With that in mind, there are several types of coverage you can add to your own policy to protect your financial interests. While they’re not required under Iowa law, drivers can benefit from carrying
uninsured motorist coverage
and underinsured motorist coverage—also known as UMC/UIM. This coverage can help you pay for medical expenses after an accident when an at-fault driver is uninsured or has insufficient liability insurance. 
Then, there’s
medical payments (MedPay)
coverage, which can also help cover medical costs.
collision coverage
, you can also file a claim with your insurance company to help cover repair costs on your vehicle. To protect yourself against the odds, it’s a good idea to have UIM and collision coverage in your car insurance arsenal.
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Penalties for driving without insurance in Iowa

Penalties for driving without insurance in Iowa can result in some costly consequences. 
Driving uninsured in Iowa can leave you subject to a fine of $250 or community service—but that can rise to $645 if you’re involved in an accident. The penalties get more severe if the accident results in a death, injury, or property damage exceeding $1,500. The state could revoke your license and vehicle registration for up to a year, and your vehicle could face impoundment.

Minimum required car insurance in Iowa

There’s an easy way to avoid these penalties: by making sure you have Iowa’s minimum required car insurance in place from the get-go. As an Iowa driver, you’ll need to have a policy that includes, at the very least, the following liability coverage:
While having these minimum legally required liability coverage amounts is important, they might not cover all your costs if you’re found at fault in a more severe accident. Common liability coverage recommendations include $100,000 per person, $300,000 per accident for bodily injury liability, and $100,000 for property damage liability. For the expanded protection they provide, they’re usually relatively affordable.
In addition to the various coverage types we’ve already discussed, another worth considering is
comprehensive coverage
which protects your car from various unexpected events outside of collisions—including theft, vandalism, hail, fire, and more. 

Driving without insurance can increase premiums

Your driving record is a major factor that influences your car insurance costs. That means if you’re
caught driving without car insurance
, you could see significantly more expensive premiums going forward.
That’s yet another reason you’ll want to carry at least the minimum amount of liability coverage in Iowa.

How to find cheap car insurance in Iowa

If your budget is already spread thin, paying for a
car insurance
premium might sound intimidating. However, the consequences of going without car insurance in Iowa can cost you far more than an annual car insurance premium would, so it’s definitely not an expense to skip out on altogether.
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Iowa car insurance costs
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