Motorcycle Insurance Minimum Requirements in Iowa
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Although Iowa does not have a compulsory insurance law for motorcycle owners, the Financial & Safety Responsibility Act states that you will lose your license and registration privileges if you can't provide proof of insurance or other acceptable forms of financial responsibility following an accident.
The Financial & Safety Responsibility Act also states that residents who lose their licenses after an OWI will need to provide proof of financial responsibility for two years following the reinstatement of their license.
Ways to Establish Financial Responsibility
In most cases, motorcycle owners choose to purchase liability insurance to prove financial responsibility. However, you may also prove financial responsibility following an accident with one of the following options:
- Submit official releases from everyone involved in the accident.
- Pay cash or post a cashier's check, certified check, bank draft or postal money order payable to the Office of Driver Services for all charges relating to the accident.
- Obtain proof documenting a full settlement of all damages or injuries.
- Agree to pay the people with property damage or the injured drivers and passengers involved in the accident on an installment plan.
- Eliminate your right to defend against the charges by executing a warrant for confession of judgment with a damage payment schedule.
- Submit a copy of civil damage action decision that relieves you of all responsibility for expenses relating to the accident.
If you need to show proof of financial responsibility to regain your motorcycle license following an OWI suspension or revocation, you can ask your insurance carrier to file Form SR-22 (Certificate of Automobile Liability Insurance) with the Office of Driver Services. If this is not possible, the alternative is to file a surety bond, cash, or securities of $55,000.
Two-Wheeled Vehicles Defined
In addition to motorcycles, the Iowa DOT defines the following two-wheeled vehicles:
- Moped―"A motor vehicle that has a saddle or seat for the use of the rider and is designed to travel on not more than three wheels in contact with the ground and not capable of operating at a speed in excess of thirty miles per hour on level ground unassisted by human power."
- Scooter―Electric- or gas-powered scooters that resemble long skateboards with handlebars, a motor, and a seat generally are not eligible for registration and thus can't legally be driven on Iowa roads.
NOTE: The DOT generally recognizes mopeds that can travel faster than 30 mph and scooters with step-through frames as types of motorcycles.
Call the Office of Driver Services at (800) 532-1121 if you are not sure whether your vehicle requires motorcycle insurance.
If you use a liability insurance policy to meet your financial responsibility requirements, minimum coverage amounts are:
The amounts listed above are the bare minimum insurance requirements. Many residents opt for higher liability coverage or more extensive insurance protection through collision, personal injury protection, comprehensive physical damage, or uninsured motorist policies.
If cost is a concern, obtaining quotes from several different insurance companies will help you get the coverage you need at a price you can afford.
How Coverage Affects Helmet Requirements
Unlike many other states, Iowa does not legally require motorcycle riders to wear helmets. This means that whether or not you choose to wear a helmet while traveling on the state's roads will have no impact on your insurance coverage needs.
Keep your insurance card with you at all times so you are able to submit your proof of financial responsibility in the event of an accident.
If you don't have liability insurance and need to provide another form of proof of financial responsibility, contact the Office of Driver Services at (800) 532-1121 for instructions regarding how to submit your documentation.
As mentioned earlier, your license and registration can be suspended if you are found to have no proof of insurance or other forms of financial responsibility as required by the Iowa Financial & Safety Responsibility Act. This is true even if you only allowed a friend to borrow your motorcycle, because the financial responsibility requirements apply to both the owner and the person operating the vehicle involved in an accident.
The only way to avoid penalties for failure to maintain financial responsibility is to meet one of the following criteria:
- The accident causing injury or property damage happened after someone took your motorcycle without your permission.
- The accident involved no property damage or personal injuries to anyone but you.
- Your motorcycle was legally parked, stopped, or standing at the time of the accident.
If you are required to show proof of financial responsibility as part of Iowa's Financial & Safety Responsibility Act, keep in mind you must provide proof for both your car and your motorcycle to maintain full license and registration privileges.
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