No, Iowa is not a no-fault state. Iowa is an at-fault (or “tort”) state, which means that the driver who causes an accident uses their insurance to pay for the other driver’s bills from the collision. Police and insurance companies use the available evidence to decide who is at fault for the accident. Then the at-fault driver’s insurance pays to cover the other driver’s damages. Depending on their coverage, they might have insurance for their own damages, too.
“Fault” can be shared by drivers – for example, one driver could be 20% responsible for an accident while the second driver is 80% responsible. Iowa has modified comparative negligence laws. That means if you are 50% or more at fault, you can't collect any damages from the other driver. If you're less than 50% at fault, you can collect damages minus the percentage that you're at fault. So if you're 30% at fault, you can recover 70% of what you spent on damages after the crash.
Why You Should Care That Iowa is a Tort/Fault State
In tort states like Iowa, medical coverage only pays out after fault has been determined. That means there are more legal hoops to jump through and a longer waiting period before fault is decided and a driver can get reimbursed. This type of system has other implications for drivers, too, including some that vary by state due to nuances in local car insurance laws.
Here’s what tort insurance means for Iowa drivers:
- Tort insurance is typically cheaper than car insurance in no-fault states.
- Drivers can sue the at-fault party for almost any type of loss after their collision. This includes lost wages, emotional distress, and hospital bills that exceed the at-fault driver’s coverage.
- You can collect damages from the other driver as long as you are less than 50% responsible for the accident.
- Iowa has a statute of limitations of 2 years after a car accident. That means you have 2 years from the time of the car accident to sue the at-fault driver, or vice versa.
Iowa vs. Other Tort/Fault States
|State ||Iowa ||Wisconsin ||Missouri |
|Average Car Insurance Premium ||$294 per year ||$412 per year ||$651 per year |
|Statute of Limitations ||2 years ||3 years ||5 years |
|Rank Among Tort States (1 = cheapest) ||2 ||8 ||30 |
Note: Rates are an approximation based on a Iowa driver with minimum coverage and a clean driving record. Actual rates will vary.
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