Updated on 06.20.16

Car Insurance in Idaho

Vanessa Clark

20 minutes saved me $542.

Idaho’s rural landscapes and low percentage of uninsured drivers keep it cruising down easy street when it comes to auto insurance. It makes the top five list of states as one of the cheapest places to insure your vehicle. Therefore, I expected the quotes I got to be relatively close in nature. I was blown away when I found over $500 dollars simply by shopping around.

I obtained quotes for the minimum insurance requirements in Idaho from four different companies and was astounded to find $542 between my highest and lowest application. State Farm turned in my cheapest option and Farmers Insurance was my highest. It may seem cut and dry that this would translate that same for almost everyone, but it simply does not. Insurance companies use a bevy of information to calculate your individual rate, and they all use unique equations.

Attributes like your age, zip code, driving history — even your employment — can all play a role in developing your specific premium rate. It’s a new game with every quote, and the only way to find out who will have your best deal is to play them all. I would recommend starting with at least four. You can use my list as a jumping off point.

Don’t worry about too much time consumption when getting quotes. The average online quote tool takes about 5-10 minutes, and almost all companies have this option these days. Even if you need to call out to gather quotes, it usually only takes about 15-20 minutes. And besides, when you’re finding over $500 in savings, it’s definitely worth your time.

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Our Top 4 Picks for the Best Car Insurance in Idaho

My quotes came from 4 exemplary insurance companies in the northwest region. They all met the Simple Dollar’s standards for customer service satisfaction and financial stability — I’d recommend them to anyone as the best car insurance providers in Idaho.

Insurer My quote
State Farm $313
GEICO $349
American Family Insurance $580
Farmers $855

The standards I am addressing come from two sources of global leadership in their respective fields. JD Power is the premier investigator into customer satisfaction ratings across all industries. In this case they evaluated companies in the northwest region of the country. All of the providers listed scored an “above average” or better score. A.M. Best was our source for ratings of financial stability. Each company was rated as “Excellent” — meaning their long term financial outlook is very stable. I believe it is important to evaluate these areas, because a smooth customer service process is paramount to beneficial interactions. We all know how terrible it can be when companies give you the runaround, and we wouldn’t want that for anyone. Financial stability is also important because you should be able to trust your insurer to back their protection fully. Knowing that you are truly financially covered guarantees a better relationship between yourself and the insurer.  

I found that State Farm was my best option for car insurance when applying for minimum coverage. Its quote of $313 was a remarkable $542 less than my most expensive option, Farmers. GEICO took second place at $349, and was the only company close to State Farm’s low rate. American Family Insurance was off the mark at $580, but when Farmers quoted me $855 per year for minimum coverage I was shocked. I cannot explain why they were so much more expensive, all quotes were for the same basic coverage, with no add-ons. It’s even more interesting that when you realize that State Farm actually outranked Farmers (though only by a small margin) in the JD Power customer service study. But if it were me, I would use the extra money and put it towards better coverage — which could save me lots of heartache (and cash) in the future.

Even If You’re Happy, It’s Best to Shop for a New Policy Every Couple of Years

In the past, your insurance premium was built solely around something called a risk profile. This was a collection of your general information (age, sex, location, etc.) and public record (driving history, credit score, and so on). Insurance companies used this data to understand how likely you were to have an accident and make them payout. Risk profiles are still in use today, but there is a new kid on the block when it come to calculating our insurance rates. It comes in the form of a process called price optimization, and it’s stirred up plenty of controversy.

A study by Earnix calculated over 45 percent of large insurance companies collect and analyze personal data beyond the standard risk profile. This information can include previous insurers, how long you’ve been with your current cell phone provider, online shopping habits, even your social media interactions. Insurance agencies are using the data to estimate how sensitive you are to price changes over time, and how ‘loyal’ you are in response to price hikes. In other words, if your provider thinks you’re comfortable paying a few more dollars a month, they’ll probably raise your rates.

That’s why shopping for a new policy every year is a habit worth creating. You’ll be doing yourself a favor in two ways. First there a great chance you could find savings off the bat, especially if you haven’t shopped in a while. Secondly, you’ll be protecting yourself from your current providers temptation to stretch your budget just because.

Fifteen states made price optimization a target of the law. Many have banned the use of it, because it has been found to be discriminatory. Other have placed the practice under investigation or forced the companies to tell their customers that they are using it. The Consumer Federation of America has written a letter to Insurance Director, William Deal, asking to make the use of price optimization public. No official action has been taken by the state yet. As for now, your best option is to call your local agent if you wish to discuss the practice within your insurance company. Otherwise, stay vigilant and always searching for a better deal, you’ll be glad you did.

Idaho’s Minimum Coverage

The Bare Minimum

Idaho has a standard, minimum liability insurance requirement of 25/50/15. What this means is that you are covered for $25,000 of bodily damage per individual in an accident, $50,000 of  total bodily damage per wreck, and $15,000 worth of property damage.

Uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage is mandatory as well. The limits of this coverage must match the limits of your liability insurance. The only exception is property damage, of which there is no requirement for uninsured motorist coverage. This entire section of coverage can be waived, but only if you do so in writing with your insurance agent and it is not recommended.

Another need-to-know of the Idaho insurance scene is comparative negligence law. This standard says that multiple people can be found to have varying degrees of fault in an automobile accident. As the court decides to assign percentages of fault, only the individual with the least amount of fault will be awarded damages. But, if that individual was found to be 30 percent at fault, the total award could be slashed by the same percentage.

The Best Car Insurance is Not Just Cheap Car Insurance

As a driver in Idaho, it is important to have more than a basic, cheap car insurance policy. Here’s why:

  • According to the statistics, every driver will get in an accident once every 17.9 years.
  • A disabling, but nonfatal injury averages $80,700 in cost.

If I were a legal driver with the minimum coverage, and I followed these statistics, my protection could leave me out to dry with over $55,000 of damages.

Now consider that I had opted for a more premium coverage like 50/100/50 with corresponding uninsured/underinsured motorists. Let’s also remember that Idaho has comparative fault laws. So hypothetically, I’ve been involved in this worst case scenario wreck after 18 years of clean driving. In the courtroom they decide that I am 60 percent at fault for the accident, and the plaintiff is 40 percent at fault. This means that 40 percent of the cost caused will be removed from the my bill. Going by the numbers above, that means my coverage will have more than enough to cover the damages levied against me.

If you think this kind of coverage will break the bank, think again. I priced State Farm (my lowest quote for minimum coverage) for the popular upgraded coverage of 50/100/50. It was only $58 more per year. Over 18 years that’s only $1,044 than you would have paid for the minimum. And if that extra thousand saves you from a financial devastation then it is money well spent.

If You Skip Coverage, It’ll Cost You

Driving without proof of insurance is quick way to lose money. If an individual is found driving in Idaho without insurance, he or she will will be subject to a fines ranging from $75 to $1,000 (plus any court costs), filing an SR-22 document, and even jail time.

If you are unfamiliar with the SR-22 document in question, it is a form which those who commit serious driving violations (DUI, Hit-and-Run, etc.) are required to fill out yearly as proof of financial responsibility to legally drive. Every insurance agency will ask if you are required to fill out an SR-22, and you can be assured that it will painfully affect the rates which are offered.

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Beat the Average Premium: 9 Ways to Snag Cheap Car Insurance Rates

So many factors play a role in determining the exact number that your insurance agency charges you for coverage. Even as one of the cheapest place in the nation to insure your car, you could still be saving more. Check out The Simple Dollar’s chart below and ask yourself “Can I beat the average?”.

Nine Ways to Lower Your Car Insurance Rates


Why are Idaho’s rates so low?

What to Expect
Average Monthly Premiums
United States $139
Idaho $85
Idaho Falls $93
Pocatello $91
Nampa $87
Boise $82
Source Quadrant

Idaho boasts the lowest rates in the entire west, and the fourth lowest rates over the whole nation. A few explanations exists that Idahoans can be proud of. First, an extremely high rural percentage of land (99.4 percent) helps keep rates low because rural areas typically create less crime and accidents than urban areas. Therefore, insurance companies are less likely to have to payout, and your premiums benefit!

Secondly, an overwhelming majority of the state’s drivers are insured. With an estimated 6.7 percent uninsured driver population, Idaho is the 5th lowest in the country. This is probably of the biggest reason that rates are kept low in the Gem State, and is something most others can look up too.

The Bottom Line

It isn’t as hard as you think to find cheap car insurance that will actually come through for you when all goes south. Search the insurance market high and low. Gather quotes and compare them. The more you seek, the more savings you shall find.

Get Quotes Now

Enter your zip code to compare rates from some of my top recommendations.

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