Alaska has passed a series of laws (known as "Mandatory Insurance Statutes") that require the owners of most motor vehicles to carry a car insurance policy that meets certain minimum liability coverage requirements, in case the vehicle is involved in a traffic accident. In this article, we'll discuss these requirements, and we'll touch on other key details related to auto insurance in Alaska.
Alaska follows a "fault" system when it comes to financial responsibility for injuries, vehicle damage, and other losses stemming from a car accident. This means that the person who was at fault for causing the car accident is also responsible for compensating anyone who suffered harm as a result (from a practical standpoint, it's typically the at-fault driver’s insurance carrier that will cover these losses, up to policy limits).
In Alaska, a person who suffers any kind of injury or damage due to an auto accident usually can proceed in one of three ways:
Note: In no-fault car insurance states, claimants don't have this same range of options. If you're injured in a car accident in a no-fault state, you must turn to the personal injury protection coverage of your own car insurance policy for the payment of medical bills and other out-of-pocket losses, regardless of who caused the accident. Only if your claim reaches certain statutory thresholds can you step outside of no-fault and make a claim directly against the at-fault driver. But Alaska drivers don't need to worry about no-fault for an in-state accident.
This basic coverage pays the medical bills, property damage bills, and other costs of drivers, passengers, and pedestrians who are injured or have their vehicle damaged in a car accident you cause, up to coverage limits. You can (and in some situations should) carry more coverage to protect you in case a serious crash results in significant car accident injuries and vehicle damage. Remember, once policy limits are exhausted, you are personally on the financial hook, so higher insurance limits can help protect your personal assets in the event of a serious crash.
Your liability coverage will kick in if any family member is driving your vehicle, or if you've given someone else permission to use it. It will likely also cover you if you get into an accident in a rental car.
Finally, remember that the liability coverage we discussed here doesn't apply to your own injuries or vehicle damage after an Alaska car accident. You'll need different (additional) coverage for that if you're involved in a car accident and no one else's coverage applies to your losses. For example, personal injury protection (PIP) or MedPay coverage can be used to pay your car accident medical bills (this coverage is optional in Alaska), and collision coverage (also optional in Alaska) can pay for repairs to (or replacement of) your damaged vehicle after a car accident.
In areas of Alaska where vehicle registration is not required, liability car insurance is not usually required either (unless the vehicle owner has recently been cited for certain traffic violations). For a list of areas that are exempted in Alaska, check out the Department of Administration's Mandatory Insurance page.