Idaho’s rural landscapes and low percentage of uninsured drivers make it one of the cheapest U.S. states for car insurance. You can save even more money if you shop around and compare auto insurers.
The Simple Dollar obtained quotes for the minimum insurance requirements from four different companies in Idaho and found an astounding $1,222 difference between the highest and lowest quotes. Geico was the least expensive option and Farmers Insurance was the most expensive. But insurance companies use a bevy of information to calculate your individual rate, and they all use different equations, so rates are not the same for everyone.
Factors such as your age, ZIP code, driving history — even your employment — can all play a role in determining your specific premium rate. It’s a new game with every quote, and the only way to find out who will have the best deal for you is to play them all. It’s a good idea to start with at least four insurers. You can use this list as a jumping-off point.
Don’t worry about spending too much time getting quotes. The average online quote tool takes 5 to 10 minutes, and almost all companies have quote tools these days. Even if you need to make a phone call to gather quotes, it usually takes only 15 to 20 minutes. When you’re finding over $1,200 in savings, it’s definitely worth your time.
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Our Top 4 Picks for the Best Cheap Car Insurance in Idaho
These are four exemplary insurance companies in the Northwest United States. They all met the Simple Dollar’s standards for customer service satisfaction and financial stability to earn a recommendation as one of the best car insurance providers in Idaho.
The standards these insurers meet come from two sources of global leadership in their respective fields. J.D. Power is a global marketing information services company, providing customer satisfaction ratings across all industries. It evaluated insurance companies in the Northwest. All of the providers listed here scored an “above average” or better. A.M. Best is the source used for ratings of financial strength. Each company was rated as “Excellent,” — meaning its long-term financial outlook is very stable. It is important to evaluate these areas. A smooth customer service experience is paramount. Everyone knows how terrible it can be when companies give you the runaround. Financial stability is also important because you should be able to trust that your insurer will be able to pay claims. Knowing that you are truly financially covered guarantees a better relationship between you and your insurer.
In the sample scenario, Geico was the best option for car insurance when applying for minimum coverage. Its quote of $842 was a remarkable $1,222 less than the most expensive option, Farmers. State Farm took second place at $1,062, and was the only company close to Geico’s low rate. American Family Insurance quoted $1,968. Farmers quoted $2,064 per year for minimum coverage. All quotes were for the same basic coverage, with no add-ons.
Idaho’s Minimum Coverage Requirements for 2020
Idaho has a standard, minimum liability insurance requirement of 25/50/15. What this means is that you must be 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, a practice that is not recommended.
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Why should I get more than the minimal coverage?
As a driver in Idaho, it is important to have more than a basic car insurance policy. Here’s why:
- According to the statistics, a driver will get into an accident once every 17.9 years.
- A disabling, but nonfatal injury averages $93,800 in cost.
If a legal driver has only the minimum coverage, the policy could leave the driver out to dry for tens of thousands of dollars in damages.
Now, consider the outcome if the same driver had opted for more coverage, like 50/100/50 with corresponding uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage. Let’s also remember that Idaho has comparative fault laws. So hypothetically, this driver has been involved in this worst-case scenario wreck after 18 years of clean driving. In a courtroom, it is decided that the driver is 60 percent at fault for the accident and the plaintiff is 40 percent at fault. This means that 40 percent of the cost will be removed from our driver’s bill. With the premium policy, the driver will have more than enough coverage to cover the damages.
What happens if you skip coverage?
Driving without proof of insurance is a quick way to lose money. If an individual is found driving in Idaho without insurance, he or she will to pay a fine ranging from $75 to $1,000 (plus any court costs), file an SR-22 document, and perhaps do jail time.
The SR-22 document is a form that those who commit serious driving violations, such as a DUI, are required to fill out in order to have their driving privileges reinstated. Every insurance agency will ask if you are required to fill out an SR-22, and you can be sure that it will painfully affect the rates you are offered if your answer is “yes.”
Why are Idaho’s rates so low?
Idaho boasts the lowest rates in the entire West, and the fourth-lowest rates in the nation. Idaho is over 99 percent rural land, which keeps rates low because rural areas typically have fewer auto accidents and less crime than urban areas. Therefore, insurance companies are less likely to have to pay out, 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 fifth-lowest in the country. This is probably one of the biggest reason that rates are low in the Gem State.
Idaho is not a no-fault state, so whoever is found at fault in an accident will be responsible for the damages.
Another fact about Idaho insurance is the comparative negligence law, which 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.
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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, gender, location, etc.) and public record (driving history, credit score, etc.). Insurance companies used this data to understand how likely you were to have an accident. Risk profiles are still in use today, but there is a new wrinkle when it comes to calculating your insurance rates. It’s called price optimization, and it has stirred up plenty of controversy.
Many 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 cellphone provider, online shopping habits, and 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. There’s a great chance you could find savings, especially if you haven’t shopped in a while, and you’ll be protecting yourself from your current insurer’s effort to squeeze more out of you just because it can.
Many states have banned the use of price optimization because it has been found to be discriminatory. Others have placed the practice under investigation or forced companies to tell their customers that they are using it. Your best strategy is to stay vigilant and always search for a better deal; you’ll be glad you did.
In addition to shopping around to avoid falling prey to price optimization, it’s smart to shop and compare prices from time to time because your circumstances change. For example, old traffic violations might have aged out of being factored into your risk assessment. You may have matured out of the super-expensive young driver category. Also, an improved credit score could get you lower insurance premiums since it seems that people with good credit are less likely to file insurance claims. Or, it’s possible that you now qualify for discounts that your current insurer doesn’t provide, such as a good student discount.
It isn’t as hard as you think to find cheap car insurance that will protect you if you have an accident. Search the insurance market high and low. Gather quotes, compare them, and make a habit of doing it.