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What is the penalty in Iowa if you are caught driving an automobile without insurance and you are involved in an accident that is your fault?


The Iowa Department of Transportation (DOT) notes that IA does not have a compulsory insurance law, instead, the Financial and Safety Responsibility Act.

Motorists that choose to provide proof of financial responsibility with Iowa car insurance must be covered for Bodily Injury and Property damage Liability. The minimum amount of these coverages allowed is 20/40/15. This means that you must carry $20,000 for bodily injury per person, $40,000 for bodily injury per accident and $15,000 for property damage per accident.

The Iowa Financial and Safety Responsibility Act is there to protect those on Iowa roadways from the financially unsound and reckless driver. It does this by:

  • Suspending the operating and registration privileges of a driver or owner who has not been able to show immediate financial responsibility following an accident; and,
  • By requiring anyone whose driver's license has been suspended or revoked because of a conviction, unsatisfied judgment or violation of the OWI law to prove financial responsibility for any future damages or injuries that driver may cause.

If you cause personal injury or damage exceeding $1,000 to the other party in an auto accident, you must next prove your financial responsibility. Otherwise, your license will be suspended.

Both owner and driver of the vehicles involved in an accident must prove their financial responsibility. This means if you owned the car involved in an accident but were not driving it at the time; you would still have to show financial responsibility was in place. Otherwise, you would lose all your registrations. The driver of your vehicle would also have to show financial responsibility or lose all licenses to operate motor vehicles.

To read more about the Iowa Motor Vehicle Financial Responsibility laws you can read through Chapter 321A of the IA Code. As you can see your can lose your driver's license and registration if you drive without insurance or another state authorized type of financial responsibility on your vehicle. Fines also likely apply if you are ticketed for being an uninsured motorist, especially if you were at-fault in an accident.

Besides the penalties the state may place on you for being uninsured normally you can be held personally responsible for the damages you caused to the other party. Usually you must pay the other party directly or if they have insurance that covers their damages than that insurance company will notify of the monies they paid out on the claim you were at fault for and subrogate with you. This basically means they will request you repay them for the amount they paid out for the damages you were responsible and liable for.

According to the Iowa Driver's Manual located at the Driver's Services division of the IA Department of Transportation site, if you do not have liability insurance when you are involved in an accident, you must do one of the following to avoid suspension:

  • post cash, cashier's check, certified check, bank draft, surety bond or postal money order, payable to the Iowa Office of Driver Services. If you have not been sued in that time, the money will be returned to you.
  • get written releases from all persons whose property was damaged and/or the injured parties. Forms are available from the Office of Driver Services.
  • get a court decision resulting from civil action that relieves you of all liability.
  • file an agreement to pay for damages or injuries on the installment plan. Forms are available from the Office of Driver Services.
  • prove to the Office of Driver Services that you have paid for all damages or injuries, or that the other parties have paid you for your damages or injuries.

If you do not use one of the above methods to meet the requirements, your license can be suspended for one year from the date of the accident. Iowa Code section 321.20B Proof of security against liability - driving without liability coverage gives more information on what one has to do if they were found driving without insurance.

If you were cited for driving without insurance and causing an accident in Iowa than contact the court listed on your ticket for more information on the penalties you can expect to face. The IA DOT should also be able to give you information on what may happen with your driver's license.


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