Need to learn about car insurance in Arkansas? Keep reading for information on required coverage, penalties for driving uninsured, important coverage decisions, and more.
Arkansas is a “tort” state that requires all drivers to have insurance.
According to officials, you’ll have to prove you have insurance when you:
Arkansas law has certain standards that all policies must meet. Those standards require every policy to include a minimum amount of liability coverage. The following table breaks down the requirements.
|Required coverage types||Minimum amount of coverage|
|Bodily injury liability||$25,000 for each person’s injuries in an accident
$50,000 total for all injuries in an accident
|Property damage liability||$25,000 total per accident|
When someone driving your car causes an accident, liability coverage pays for victims’ medical and repair bills. However, it only pays up to a certain amount. Minimum policies include $50,000 worth of coverage for medical bills and $25,000 for property damages. If you get the minimum amount of liability insurance, you may see it referred to as 25/50/25 coverage. You can buy more than the minimums to be better protected.
Remember, liability doesn’t cover the driver’s medical bills or car repairs. It only covers those costs for accident victims.
If you break the law in Arkansas and don’t buy coverage, you could face some serious financial setbacks. If someone crashes your car, you could get stuck having to pay other people’s medical and repair bills. You could also get your license and registration suspended. On top of that, you may have to pay hundreds of dollars in fines and fees.
|No. of offenses||Fine||License & registration suspension|
|1st||$50 – $250||Until owner presents proof of coverage & pays $20 reinstatement fee|
|2nd||$250 – $500||Until owner presents proof of coverage & pays $20 reinstatement fee|
|3rd & subsequent||$500 – $1,000||Until owner presents proof of coverage & pays $20 reinstatement fee|
Arkansas has an insurance verification program to help state officials identify uninsured drivers. The system flags cars that may be uninsured by matching up vehicle registration data and insurance policy information.
In Arkansas, you can prove that you’re insured with your smartphone or other electronic device. This is thanks to the electronic proof law, which went into effect in August 2013. Many major insurers will provide you with what the industry calls an
For the electronic document to be valid proof of insurance, it should clearly state all of the following:
If you’re going to use electronic proof, you might want to keep a hard copy just in case. If you can’t prove that you’re insured during a traffic stop, you could be fined $25, according to state law.
In addition to liability coverage, there are optional coverages you can add to your policy. They’ll raise the cost of your insurance, but they’ll also provide greater protection. The following are the most widely available coverage add-ons in the state.
It pays for repairing or replacing the insured car if it’s damaged by something other than a collision. Some examples of this type of damage are vandalism, hail damage, and theft. About two-thirds of drivers in Arkansas bought this coverage in 2011.
It pays for repairing or replacing the insured vehicle after an accident. About two-thirds of drivers in the state bought this coverage in 2011.
It pays your medical bills and the medical bills of your family and passengers after an accident. It does so when the driver who caused the accident either:
Insurers are required to offer you this coverage when you buy a policy, but state law doesn’t require you to buy it.
It pays for repairing your car after an accident caused by an uninsured motorists or hit-and-run driver. You can only buy this coverage if you also buy uninsured motorist bodily injury coverage.
There is a $200 deductible for claims under this coverage. However, officials say the deductible will be waived if all of the following apply:
Personal injury protection (PIP) covers you if you are hurt or killed in an accident.
It also provides coverage for:
Personal injury protection comes in three parts in Arkansas:
If you don’t want all three benefits, you must reject the ones you don’t want in writing.
Hail storms, which can seriously damage a car, are more common in some states, and Arkansas is one of them. The average car insurance claim for hail damage is around $3,295 in Arkansas, according to a 2012 report from the Highway Loss Data Institute (HLDI). That’s higher than the national average of $3,118.
The rate that drivers filed hail claims in Arkansas was the 7th-highest of any state in the U.S. These claims have been costly for insurers. The state’s 20,453 hail claims between 2008 and 2011 cost insurers an estimated $67.4 million.
Comprehensive coverage can protect you against hail damage as well as various weather-related events like flooding or tornadoes. Without comprehensive coverage, the cost of repairs from such weather damage will likely come out of your own wallet.
Arkansas has a higher-than-average rate of uninsured drivers compared to the U.S. average. According to industry research, the uninsured rate is about 16%. That means about 1 out of every 6 drivers in Arkansas lacks car insurance. If one of those drivers crashes into you, they could be unable to pay your accident-related damages.
Be prepared for this situation. The following optional coverages will pay for medical bills for you, your family, and any passengers if they’re injured by an uninsured driver:
The following optional coverages will pay for repairing your car if it’s damaged by an uninsured driver:
If you don’t have any of those coverages, your medical bills and/or property damages might come completely out of your own wallet.
Arkansas uses a “tort” system for car insurance claims. That means if someone injures you or wrecks your car, their liability insurance pays your medical and repair bills.
But in some cases, the other driver won’t be 100% responsible for the accident. Your actions could have contributed to the accident, and you could be partially responsible. This makes things a little more complicated.
If you’re partially responsible, it reduces the amount you can get from the other driver’s insurer. Arkansas uses modified comparative fault to sort this out. Here are the details:
If you’re at least 50% responsible for the accident: The other driver’s insurer doesn’t pay any of your bills. You have to completely rely on your own policy.
If you’re less than 50% responsible for the accident: The other driver’s insurer will pay your bills. But the amount they pay will be reduced by your percentage of fault. For example, if you’re 20% responsible for an accident, the other driver’s insurer doesn’t pay 100% of your bills. Instead, it pays only 80%, since you were 20% responsible. So in this example, if you have $10,000 in bills from an accident, the other driver’s insurer has to pay only $8,000.
So what if the other driver’s insurer doesn’t pay your bills? You use your own policy. PIP coverage will help pay your medical bills. Collision will help pay your repair bills. However, both of those coverages are optional, so if you didn’t add them to your policy, you’ll be on your own.
Arkansas car insurance premiums are cheaper than average. The average cost of a policy in the state was 9.2% lower than the 2011 national average.
If you drive safely, infrequently, or both, you may want to look into a usage-based discount program. These programs use a device you install in your car to track how far it’s driven and/or if it’s driven safely. Depending on how you drive, you could potentially get a discount of up to 30%.
The following major insurers offer usage-based discounts in the Natural State:
State law rewards older drivers who maintain their driving skills. Arkansas auto insurers must give a discount to drivers 55 and older if they complete an accident prevention course. The course must be approved by the Office of Motor Vehicles.
Arkansas regulators help resolve disputes between insurers and their customers. They also publish statistics about complaints online for consumers to view when researching a company.
If you have a complaint about your insurer, you can file one using the Insurance Department’s online complaint form. Another option is to go through the Arkansas EAGLE Mediation Program to help resolve issues you have with your insurer.
If you’re researching car insurance companies and want to see which ones in your state have the most dissatisfied customers, you can use the consumer-complaint reports provided online by regulators. With these reports, you’ll be able to see how many complaints have been filed against a particular insurer.
The most common reason for complaints against auto insurers is a delay in claims payment.
If you’ve had a hard time finding a car insurer who will cover you (usually because of marks on your driving record), you can still turn to the Arkansas Automobile Insurance Plan. The Plan is the car insurer of last resort for the state’s high-risk drivers.
In Arkansas, you’ll need to file an accident report if damages to any one person are more than $1,000. The report, called a Safety Responsibility SR 1-21, must be submitted within 30 days.
If you're 55 and older, you can get a discount on your Arkansas car insurance premiums by taking an accident prevention course approved by the Office of Motor Vehicles.