Uninsured Motorist Coverage in Iowa: Do You Need It?

It’s not illegal to drive in Iowa without uninsured motorist coverage, but you may still want it for extra protection on the road.
Written by Meaghan Branham
Reviewed by Pat Roache
You are not required by law to carry uninsured motorist coverage in Iowa. However, insurance companies are required to offer it and you’ll have to turn down the coverage in writing. You may want to add it to your policy though for extra protection on the road.
The only car insurance required by the state of Iowa is
liability coverage
. However, if you are involved in an accident with an at-fault driver who is uninsured or underinsured, you won’t be able to rely on their coverage to help pay for your upfront costs. For those reasons, it’s a good idea to opt for a policy that includes some additional protections.
To build a
car insurance
policy that includes uninsured motorist coverage in Iowa, you can turn to
the super app and a
trustworthy broker
for guidance. This guide will walk you through uninsured motorist coverage in Iowa, what it covers, and why many drivers add it. We’ll even help you lower your
Iowa insurance costs
to afford the extra coverage!
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Do you need uninsured motorist coverage in Iowa?

Iowa does not require drivers to carry
uninsured motorist coverage
. That doesn’t mean that it’s not worth considering, though. 
The only coverage required in the Hawkeye State is liability insurance that meets or exceeds the following limits:
Those limits are a bit low compared to those in other states, which is bad news in both accidents where you are and aren’t at fault. 
If you are at fault and only carry the minimum amount of insurance:
  • The other driver's costs might exceed your liability coverage limits which could land you in litigation to cover their expenses.
  • Your property damage costs and medical bills cannot be covered by your liability insurance, and you’ll be left paying for them out-of-pocket.
If you are not at fault, and you carry only the minimum liability insurance:
  • You will have to rely on the other party’s liability insurance, which may not be sufficient enough to cover your own expenses. 
  • If they don’t have insurance, you will be responsible for your own upfront costs. 
Basically, if you only carry liability insurance, there are many ways you could be left without coverage to protect you, especially if you are in an accident with an uninsured driver. In Iowa, the
Insurance Information Institute (III)
, estimates that around 11.3% of drivers aren’t insured or are underinsured, which means more than one in ten drivers fall into this category. 
Uninsured/underinsured motorist (UM/UIM) coverage kicks in to cover your own expenses when another driver’s liability insurance (or lack thereof) doesn’t quite cut it. It’s typically a very affordable coverage add-on, costing an average of around $50 to $75 to add to an Iowa insurance policy

How uninsured motorist insurance works in Iowa

Let’s take a look at exactly what uninsured motorist insurance involves.
Iowa’s car insurance laws
only require liability coverage of up to $20,000 for bodily injury per person and $15,000 of property damage per accident. There are no requirements that will supplement your health insurance to cover your own medical bills.
That means if you were involved in an accident with a driver who lacks any insurance or adequate coverage and you don’t have any additional insurance, you would be left paying for your ambulance ride, medical bills, lost wages, disability costs, and more.
Uninsured motorist insurance in Iowa works by covering the costs incurred by an accident if you’re hit by a driver without insurance. Underinsured motorist insurance—which is usually offered in tandem with uninsured motorist coverage—covers costs incurred if you’re in an accident with a driver whose insurance doesn’t meet the minimums.  
Plus, if you are a victim of a hit-and-run, you can file a claim with your uninsured motorist coverage.

What’s available

When it comes to these policies in Iowa, there are two categories of coverage:
  • Uninsured motorist bodily injury coverage (UM/UMBI) will cover your medical expenses, as well as those of your passengers, after an accident with an at-fault driver without any insurance coverage at all.
  • Underinsured motorist bodily injury coverage (UIM/UIMBI) will cover your remaining medical expenses and those of your passengers if you are in an accident with another driver whose insurance isn’t enough to cover your costs.
Every insurance company is required to offer a minimum of $20,000 in uninsured motorist bodily injury coverage per person, and $40,000 per accident. You can choose to opt out of this coverage in writing, but for many, it makes sense to accept at least the minimum offered by the insurance company. 

What it covers

UM/UIM bodily injury coverage in Iowa will cover medical expenses for you and those in your car if any of you are hurt in an accident. “Medical expenses” has a pretty broad definition, though, and can mean: 
  • Future medical expenses
  • Lost wages
  • Long-term rehabilitative or nursing care
  • Medical devices
  • Fitting your house to accommodate a disability caused by the accident
  • Services to maintain your home that you’re no longer able to do
  • Pain and suffering 
While having this coverage can be an enormous help—especially in the days, weeks, and months following an accident—it does still leave some weak spots in your policy. For instance, this won’t cover property damage. Those claims would best be made through
collision coverage
, which helps pay to repair or replace your car after an accident. 

How to make a claim 

Just as after any accident, you should first exchange contact and insurance information with the other driver or drivers, and call the police to file a report. This is most likely where you’ll find out whether or not the other party has liability coverage. If they don’t, you’ll need to get started filing your UM/UIM claim
To do this, you first need to call your insurance company. To make the case for your claim as strong as possible, collect and present as much evidence as you can. That might mean photos, witness statements, medical records, crash reports, and medical bills. The stronger you can make your case, the simpler the process.
There is also a chance that even your UM coverage won’t cover all of the costs, in which case you may need to turn to your health insurance, or
personal injury protection
(PIP) if you have it. 

Why it’s a good idea to buy uninsured motorist insurance in Iowa

Though adding uninsured motorist insurance to your policy does bump your insurance cost up a bit, many believe it is more than worth it—especially in Iowa where the extra cost of this coverage is often less than $100 a year. Plus, with the help of car insurance app
, you can lower your rates even further. 
And you’ll likely be happy you opted for the bulkier coverage. Here are a few reasons drivers in Iowa might want to take the plunge.

Iowa is an at-fault state 

Iowa is a “tort” state, also known as an “at-fault” state. In these states, the driver found “at fault” in an accident is responsible for covering the costs of the other driver's injuries and property damage. 
You already know the problem here: If the other driver doesn’t have the legally required liability coverage, and is found at fault, you are left in the lurch to cover your own expenses. This is true even if you have followed every rule and carry the correct insurance. 

11% of Iowa drivers are uninsured 

According to the
Insurance Information Institute (III)
11.3% of Iowa drivers aren’t insured or are underinsured. That means you are at considerable risk of being involved in an accident with one of them when you’re on the roads in the Hawkeye State. 

Iowa roads in winter are among the most dangerous

Iowa gets its fair share of snow in the colder months. That creates roads that are not only icy but sometimes nearly impossible to navigate
Driving on dangerous roads, even if it’s only for a couple of months out of the year, puts you at a higher risk of accidents. If the other driver flees the scene in an
Iowa hit-and-run
, you’d need UM/UIM coverage to help
cover the accident damages

How to save on uninsured motorist coverage in Iowa

When creating an insurance policy, you may feel like you have to choose between getting the most protection coverage or sticking to the affordable minimums. That’s not the case when you have help from
Jerry specializes in finding you the most competitive rates on policies that are custom-made for you. Using your profile and a network of over 55 of the nation’s top providers, Jerry quickly generates the best quotes for your preferred level of coverage! All you have to do is pick your favorite, and let Jerry help you set up that new policy. 
The average Jerry user saves $800 a year—plenty of extra budget to add uninsured motorist coverage to your Iowa insurance policy!
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