If you live in the Grand Canyon State, you probably know that Arizona car insurance laws require you to have a certain amount of coverage in order to be legal when you are behind the wheel. In fact, you cannot register a car in the state without having an insurance policy. Your insurance is there to protect you from financial disaster if you are found to be at fault in an accident, as it will help cover damages and injuries to the other party. Bankrate’s insurance editorial team took a deep dive into AZ insurance requirements to help you understand state insurance law and find the best coverage for your needs.

Car insurance laws in Arizona

In the state of Arizona, drivers are subject to certain car insurance laws. Arizona’s car insurance laws are similar to many other states and include:

  • Proof of insurance: In Arizona, all drivers are required to carry auto insurance and keep proof of insurance documentation in their vehicle at all times.
  • Proof of financial responsibility: Arizona drivers who do not want to purchase car insurance could choose to prove financial responsibility with a $40,000 deposit, as long as they have a certificate from the Arizona Office of Treasurer validating the deposit.
  • Minimum insurance requirements: Every driver in Arizona must have at least 25/50/15 liability coverage to align with the state’s minimum requirements in accordance with Arizona Department of Transportation (AZDOT) regulations. Driving without the minimum required insurance is illegal and has steep consequences.

Liability insurance in Arizona

Arizona law requires all drivers to carry a minimum level of liability coverage. Every driver has to carry at least $25,000 in bodily injury liability coverage per person, $50,000 in bodily injury liability coverage per accident and $15,000 in property damage liability coverage per accident.

The term ‘per person’ refers to one passenger in an accident. In Arizona, drivers must have at least $25,000 to cover one person’s injuries in an accident. The term ‘per accident’ refers to all passengers involved in a collision. Arizona drivers must have at least $50,000 to cover multiple passenger injuries in an accident and at least $15,000 to cover property damage resulting from an accident. Property damage could be either damage sustained by the other vehicle or damage to stationary objects, such as a lamppost or fence.

However, there is no guarantee that the minimum amount of coverage will offer enough financial protection in the event of an accident. If a driver with minimum coverage causes an accident and their passengers’ injuries top $100,000, they would have to pay the remaining amount out of pocket. At the same time, considering the fact that the average cost of a new vehicle is $48,334, the minimum required insurance coverage of $15,000 might not go far if you were found to be at fault in an accident that totaled another fairly new vehicle. Most insurance companies recommend that drivers purchase more coverage than legally required.

Is Arizona a no-fault state?

Arizona is not a no-fault state. Rather, it is an at-fault or tort state. This means that a driver who causes an accident in Arizona is responsible for compensating the other driver for their medical expenses and property damage. After an accident, the injured driver can file a claim with the other driver’s insurance company and get reimbursed for their losses if it is determined that the other driver is at fault.

Arizona is a comparative negligence state. If two drivers are both somewhat responsible for an accident, the insurance companies will assign a percentage to their fault. For example, if Driver A is 85 percent responsible for an accident, they or their insurance company would pay Driver B 85 percent of the total loss, up to their policy limits. Driver B or their insurance company would then make up the remaining 15 percent.

Penalties for driving without insurance in Arizona

Driving without adequate insurance coverage in Arizona is illegal and comes with serious consequences:

  • First offense: For a first offense, drivers will be fined $500. Their license and registration will be suspended for three months.
  • Second offense: For a second offense within three years, drivers will be fined a minimum of $750. Their license, registration and license plates will be suspended for six months.
  • Third offense: For three or more offenses within three years, drivers will be fined a minimum of $1,000. Their license, registration and license plates will be suspended for one year.

In addition to fines and license suspension, Arizona residents who are found guilty of driving without insurance may be required to obtain an SR-22 certificate once their license is reinstated, which gets attached to their car insurance policy to prove that they are in compliance with the state’s minimum requirements or financial responsibility laws. SR-22 filings are available through car insurance companies that specialize in high-risk drivers.

If you are pulled over by the police and cannot provide proof of insurance or proof of financial responsibility when requested, even if you do have coverage, you may still face consequences that could include a citation or ticket. Always keep your proof of insurance with you in your vehicle.

Additional auto insurance coverage options in Arizona

Depending on the car insurance company you choose, you may have the option to purchase additional coverage types, including full coverage, which offers coverage for damage to your own vehicle if you are deemed at fault in an accident.

Other coverage endorsements that may be helpful for Arizona drivers include:

  • Collision: Part of full coverage auto policies, collision coverage pays to repair vehicle damages after an accident.
  • Comprehensive: Also part of full coverage, comprehensive coverage covers the vehicle for damages not caused by an accident, like falling objects, flooding and theft.
  • Uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage: Uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage financially protects the insured in an accident if the other driver does not have insurance or does not have enough insurance to cover any losses they caused.
  • Roadside assistance: Roadside assistance will cover the cost of minor vehicle repairs or towing after a breakdown.
  • Accident forgiveness: This endorsement protects you from a premium surcharge following your first at-fault accident.
  • Gap insurance: this optional coverage will pay the difference between your totaled car’s actual cash value and the amount you still owe on your car loan if that is a higher amount than the car’s worth.

Note that endorsement options vary by carrier, and eligibility restrictions may apply to certain add-ons, like accident forgiveness. You may want to assess a company’s endorsement offerings when comparing car insurance quotes.

Frequently asked questions

    • When assessing the best car insurance companies in Arizona, Bankrate’s insurance editorial team identified Geico, State Farm, Progressive, Travelers and Nationwide as some of the best carriers. Keep in mind that in order to determine the best company for your needs, you will need to consider your priorities. For example, if low cost is most important to you, the cheapest company may be your top choice. Comparing coverage options, discounts, customer service scores and quotes from multiple companies can help you narrow down your options.
    • There’s no single company that is always the cheapest for every driver. Your rate is based on characteristics that are unique to you, including your age, gender and driving history, as well as the make and model of your car. Each carrier weighs these factors slightly differently, so you are likely to get a range of quoted premiums. To find the cheapest coverage in Arizona for you, you can start by looking at insurers with low average rates and compare personalized quotes from each. Carriers with low average rates in Arizona include Geico, Travelers, Mercury, USAA and Progressive.
    • On average, full coverage car insurance costs $2,556 per year for Arizona drivers, while minimum coverage average $829. For comparison, the U.S. national average rates are $2,542 per year for full coverage insurance and $740 for minimum. However, drivers could pay more or less than the statewide average based on their claims history, driving record, personal characteristics and vehicle type.
    • Lowering your car insurance premium may be possible by using a few tactics. Possibly the most important way to ensure you’re paying as little as possible is to maintain a clean driving record. Insurers reward good drivers with low rates since there is less chance they will be involved in accidents. If you have a few dings on your license, consider taking a state-approved defensive driving course, which may earn you a discount. Shopping around when you are looking for insurance may also lead you to a lower rate since every company uses its own proprietary algorithms to determine rates. Finally, keeping your credit rating high can lead to a lower premium in most states since, statistically, drivers with higher credit scores file fewer claims and are more likely to pay their bills on time and in full.
    • While drivers in Arizona are required to maintain certain levels of liability insurance (25/50/15), this will likely not be adequate financial protection for most drivers in the event of a serious at-fault accident. Insurance professionals recommend that drivers assess the cost of living in their area, regional risk factors and the total value of their assets that could be at risk in order to determine adequate levels of coverage. Speaking with a licensed insurance agent may help you determine how much coverage you need.