This article looks at a few key issues related to Utah's auto insurance laws and requirements. We'll examine Utah's status as a "no-fault" insurance state and how that system affect drivers, passengers, and pedestrians who are injured in accidents. We'll also take a look at Utah's minimum insurance requirements. (More information about how Utah laws affect car accident claims and settlements is available in our companion article, Traffic Accident Settlements in Utah.)
Utah is a "no-fault" car insurance state. This means that when a car accident occurs, the people injured in the crash turn to their own insurance coverage first (and sometimes exclusively), filing what is known as a "first-party" claim. This insurance is required to pay at least $3,000 in Personal Injury Protection (PIP) benefits, regardless of who was at fault for the accident. For minor accidents, that may be the extent of the process -- an injured person receiving a settlement from their own car insurance carrier.
Because Utah is a no-fault state, its laws limit the situations in which people injured in car accidents can step outside the no-fault rules and file a liability claim or lawsuit seeking compensation from others who may have caused the accident.
Before filing a lawsuit after a car accident in Utah, an injured person must first have incurred $3,000 in medical expenses stemming from the accident, or must have suffered certain kinds of serious injuries as a result of the accident. In Utah, the kinds of injuries that qualify under this "injury threshold" are:
Utah requires vehicle drivers to carry minimum auto insurance coverage if they want to drive legally in the state. As of 2011, Utah drivers were required to carry at least the following types and amounts of coverage:
These amounts are known colloquially as "25/65/15," and they represent the minimum required insurance in Utah.
Utah drivers may choose to buy higher amounts of coverage, however, and it's often a good idea to do so. The minimum 25/65/15 coverage pays for injuries or property damage suffered by other people in an accident, but it doesn't pay for your own injuries or property damage.
Also, if a court finds that you are responsible for an accident, your insurance will only pay for bodily injuries and property damage up to the limits on the policy -- $25,000/$65,000 for injuries and $15,000 for property damage, if you only have minimum coverage. If the other parties' bills add up to more than these amounts, however, you may be personally responsible for any amount left over after your insurance has reached its limit.
Car insurance carriers in Utah are required to include uninsured and underinsured motorist coverage with any car insurance policy issued in the state, but policy purchasers are free to reject this kind of coverage as long as they do so in writing.
UIM coverage can be crucial if you're in an accident with a driver who doesn't have any insurance at all, or who doesn't have enough insurance to cover all of your losses, so it's a good idea to understand how it works. Learn more in our UIM coverage topic.
If you're looking for more information on auto insurance rules in Utah, the Utah Insurance Department provides an online guide to filing auto insurance claims in the state.