Colorado law requires drivers to carry a minimum amount of auto insurance coverage. In general, drivers are supposed to carry proof of this coverage with them and produce it during traffic stops or when registering their vehicles. They are also required to show proof of their auto insurance coverage if or when they are involved in a car accident.
We’ve put the following guide together to help Colorado drivers understand the insurance coverage that might apply to a car accident. While we hope this is helpful, please keep in mind that it isn’t specific to your situation and doesn’t create an attorney-client relationship between with our firm.
If you are ready for legal advice specific to your situation after a car crash, please contact a Denver car accident attorney at Dormer Harpring. Our commitment to representing people from all walks of life means that we never charge for a consultation and that our legal fees are “contingent,” meaning they’re based only on the amount we recover.
Required Auto Insurance Coverage in Colorado1
The following table presents the minimum auto insurance coverage drivers are required (per Colorado law) to carry:
|Type of Coverage||Brief Explanation||Minimum Required Coverage in CO|
|Bodily Injury Liability||This covers the costs associated with injuries or fatalities to others involved in the accident if you cause the crash.||$25,000 limit (per person)
$50,000 limit (per collision)
|Property Damage||This covers the costs of property damage (such as vehicle repairs) if you cause the crash||$15,000 limit|
So what do these numbers mean to you? Imagine you were involved in a car crash caused by another driver who only has the minimum auto insurance coverage. In this scenario, the other driver’s coverage will pay up to $25,000 to cover your injuries and up to $15,000 to cover your vehicle repair costs (plus repairs for any other property damage sustained). If there were other passengers in your vehicle who were also harmed in the collision, the minimum auto insurance coverage would then allow for up to $50,000 in total payouts to cover the injuries you and/or your passengers suffered. So if you had one passenger, each of you could be covered up to $25,000. If you had two passengers, then the total coverage available for all three persons is $50,000. With three persons, the maximum any one person could be covered is $25,000, and the maximum total for all three persons would be $50,000.
Here, it’s also important to point out that:
- Not all types of car accidents will necessarily be covered by insurance, especially if drivers are only carrying the minimum coverage.
- In terms of car insurance, Colorado has been a “fault” state (as opposed to a “no-fault” state) since 2003. This means that the people who are hurt in a car crash have to first seek damages from the at-fault driver’s available insurance.
- As long as victims are found to be less than 50 percent at fault for the car accident, they can still be entitled to compensation for their crash-related injuries and losses – This is because Colorado has a “modified comparative fault” rule. This rule essentially means that traffic accident victims can be eligible for damages as long as their fault in causing the crash is less than 50 percent.
Above the Minimum Coverage: Additional Auto Insurance Coverage Options
Aside from Bodily Injury Liability, and Property Damage coverage, there are other important coverages to consider when selecting insurance.
Other important coverages include :
- Comprehensive coverage – This is intended to cover damage caused by incidents or events other than traffic collisions. For instance, this coverage may come into play when fires, weather events, theft, animals, or even vandalism damage a vehicle.
- Uninsured/underinsured motorist (UIM) coverage – This typically covers medical expenses arising from a traffic collision when the at-fault driver has insufficient auto insurance coverage to cover your losses and injuries. It also protects you when the other driver has no insurance or if you are the victim of a hit-and-run.
- Medical payments (Medpay) coverage – Colorado used to refer to Medpay as personal injury protection (PIP) when the state was a “no-fault” state. Today, Medpay provides coverage for medical expenses for crash-related injuries, regardless of who is at fault for the collision. In addition to covering the driver, it can also cover any passenger(s) riding with the covered driver who are hurt in a car accident. When deadly crashes occur, this coverage can also provide for funeral expenses.
- Collision coverage – This will generally cover the costs of repairing the damage to a vehicle after a crash, even if the covered driver is at fault.
The Importance of UIM & Medpay Coverage
Having the minimum auto insurance coverage may be enough to comply with Colorado laws, but it may will not be enough to protect drivers in many situations.
Having extra coverage like UIM and Medpay can be essential. By purchasing UIM and Medpay coverage, drivers can make sure that they are covered:
- When another driver who causes a car accident has little to no auto insurance coverage – According to some reports,2 as many as 1 in every 6 motorists in Colorado has no car insurance coverage. Framed in another way, Colorado ranks 9th in the nation for states with the most uninsured drivers. UIM Coverage will kick in when the at-fault driver has no insurance. Medpay will help pay your medical bills (up to the Medpay coverage limit) whether the at-fault driver has insurance or not.
- When the at-fault driver flees the scene of an accident – In Colorado, the high incidence of hit-and-runs has been called an “epidemic” by some. In fact, in Denver alone, at least 18,000 hit-and-run accidents happen each year. That means that, on a daily basis, at least 17 hit-and-runs occur in Denver.3 UIM will provide coverage when the at-fault driver cannot be located or is unknown.
- For your accident-related medical expenses, (up to the Medpay coverage limit) even if you may have contributed to the crash. Medpay will provide coverage for medical treatment regardless of whether you are at-fault for the crash.
- Important note about Medpay: Some Auto Insurance companies may try and convince you that MedPay is not necessary if you have other health insurance. This is not the case. MedPay can be used in addition to health insurance and may reduce your total out of pocket expenses. In Colorado, you must waive the option to purchase Medpay coverage in writing. If your insurance company only offers a small amount of coverage to you, you can often ask for this to be increased by a request in writing.
Colorado Auto Insurance Coverage: More Important Information for Motorists
- Policy documents – After buying or renewing auto insurance, it’s important for drivers to thoroughly read their entire policy. The policy will detail the extent of available coverages, as well as any obligations the covered driver may have (like paying premiums on time, reporting crashes the insurance provider in a certain amount of time, cooperating with evaluations of claims etc.).
- NOTE: Your policy document is a contract between you and your insurance provider. So, when you review your auto insurance policy, make sure that it contains all of the coverage/provisions that you have paid for – and keep a copy of your policy in a safe place.
- Accident reporting requirements – Many auto insurance policies require drivers to report accidents to the insurance provider within a specific frame of time. Be aware of all reporting requirements as failing to comply after a traffic crash can create challenges later when it’s time to file a claim and seek compensation for crash-related injuries and damage.
- NOTE: The reporting time limits can be as short as 48 to 72 hours after a collision for some policies.
- The business of insurance – Just because you buy auto insurance from a provider does not mean that the insurance company is on your side or looking out for you after a car accident happens. In fact, the insurer will be looking out for itself, looking to protect the business and its profits. For accident victims, this can end up meaning that the process of collecting damages can be challenging because insurers will be focused on limiting and avoiding payouts.
- Protecting yourself after a car crash – Right after a crash, when speaking with police or investigators, be sure to only provide facts and make sure they are always truthful. Let the police come to their own conclusion, and this can help build your own credibility when dealing with a claim. One of the best ways to protect your rights and interests is to hire a lawyer who can inform you of your recovery options and help you make the right moves going forward. An attorney will know how to deal with insurance companies, how to keep your claim moving and what to do in order to help you obtain the full amount of compensation to which you are entitled by law.
Recovery Options: Contact a Denver Car Accident Attorney at Dormer Harpring
If you, a loved one, or a friend has been hurt in a traffic collision contact a Denver car accident attorney at Dormer Harpring for unique representation.
At Dormer Harpring, we are devoted to helping injured people, aggressively advocating for their rights, and working tirelessly to bring their cases to the best possible resolutions. Pursuing compensation is essential to paying for medical treatment, making up for the intangible difficulties of a crash and resulting injuries, and providing something in return for permanent conditions. The claims and litigation process can be confusing, lengthy, and daunting, and we have the experience to guide you through it.
To find out more about your rights, potential case, and recovery options, call us at (303) 747-4404 or email us via the contact form on this page. Our commitment to representing people from all walks of life means that:
- We never charge for a consultation.
- Our legal fees are based only on the amount we recover. In other words, you will not owe us any attorney fees if there is no recovery in your case.
From offices based in Denver, our attorneys provide exceptional representation to people throughout Denver County and the entire state of Colorado.
Disclaimer: The content herein is only intended to be general information, not legal advice.
1: Coverage discussed herein is for noncommercial motorists. The required coverage for commercial drivers varies. More information about commercial driver coverage requirements in Colorado is available at the Colorado Division of Motor Vehicles.
2: According to a study published by the Insurance Information Institute
3: According to reports compiled by the Denver Police Department