This article explains Colorado's key auto insurance laws and how those laws come into play in a car accident insurance claim or personal injury lawsuit. Colorado changed from a "no-fault" car insurance state to a "fault" or tort-based system in 2003, and then added new car insurance requirements for drivers in the state in 2009. Here, we'll discuss what those changes mean for Colorado drivers. If you’re looking for more general information on the legal rules related to auto accidents in Colorado, you’ll find it in our companion article Car Accident Laws in Colorado.
Colorado: Now a Fault Insurance State
Since Colorado's transition to a "fault" insurance state in 2003, injured drivers and passengers now have multiple options when trying to get compensation for medical bills and other losses stemming from a car accident, including:
- filing a claim with their own car insurance company
- filing a claim with the at-fault driver's insurance company (often called a "third party claim"), or
- going to civil court and filing a lawsuit against the other driver, seeking a specified amount of damages.
Minimum Liability Insurance Requirements in Colorado
Colorado drivers are currently required to insure their vehicles with at least the following minimum coverage:
- $25,000 per person for legal liability related to bodily injuries,
- $50,000 per accident for legal liability, if more than one person is injured, and
- $15,000 per accident for property damage (not including damage to the insured's vehicle).
This coverage kicks in if another driver files a claim or a lawsuit alleging that you were "at fault" in the accident. Personal injury protection, or PIP, coverage is not required, but can help pay your medical bills or those of the passengers in your car, especially if you or they do not have medical insurance. You may also rely on your health insurance to pay bills initially, then seek repayment from the other driver's insurer if you later learn the other driver was at fault.
In addition, Colorado requires auto insurers to offer drivers $5,000 in medical payment, or "med pay," coverage. Drivers can opt out if they choose, but if they do nothing, the med pay coverage -- and the additional premium -- is added to the driver's policy automatically. While it's not mandatory, med pay coverage does provide funds if anyone is injured in a Colorado car accident, regardless of fault.
Meeting Colorado's Auto Insurance Requirement
Drivers are required to show proof of insurance to the Colorado Bureau of Motor Vehicles in order to register a vehicle. Most drivers do this by purchasing auto insurance and by showing proof of insurance when they go to register the vehicle, or by having the auto insurance company notify the Bureau of Motor Vehicles. Colorado also allows drivers to self-insure in certain circumstances.
Uninsured/Underinsured Motorist Coverage
Colorado does not require drivers in the state to carry uninsured or underinsured motorist protection, which kicks in to cover you if you're in an accident with an at-fault driver who carries no car insurance, or whose coverage is insufficient to compensate you for your losses. While UIM coverage is not required under Colorado law, many drivers choose to add it to their car insurance policy as further protection. For more information, see Uninsured Motorist Coverage: The Basics and Underinsured Motorist Coverage: How it Works.
More Information on Colorado Auto Insurance Laws
You can get more in-depth information on Colorado's car insurance laws and regulations by visiting the website of the Colorado Secretary of State.