No matter where you live, car insurance is sure to play a big part in any claim you decide to bring after a car accident. Read on for the details of Wyoming's auto insurance requirements, how coverage affects claims made in the wake of a crash, and the kinds of penalties you're likely to face if you drive without insurance in Wyoming.
The first thing to know is that Wyoming follows a traditional fault-based system when it comes to financial responsibility for losses stemming from a crash: that includes car accident injuries, lost income, vehicle damage, and so on.
So, the person who was at fault for causing the car accident is also responsible for any resulting harm (from a practical standpoint, the at-fault driver's insurance carrier will absorb these losses, up to policy limits).
In Wyoming, 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, a claimant doesn't usually have this same range of options. After a car accident in a no-fault state, you must turn to the personal injury protection coverage of your own car insurance policy for payment of medical bills and other out-of-pocket losses, regardless of who caused the crash. Only if your injuries reach a certain threshold can you step outside of no-fault and make a claim directly against the at-fault driver. But Wyoming drivers don't need to worry about no-fault after an in-state accident.
All vehicles in operation in Wyoming must be insured with a liability policy, with at least the following minimum amounts of coverage:
Liability 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. 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.
Remember that liability coverage doesn't apply to your own injuries or vehicle damage after a Wyoming 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, collision coverage (optional in Wyoming) can pay for repairs to (or replacement of) your damaged vehicle after a car accident. Note that collision or comprehensive might be required under the terms of a vehicle lease or financing agreement.
According to Wyoming Statutes section 31-4-103, any vehicle owner who drives (or permits to be driven) an uninsured vehicle may be convicted of a misdemeanor punishable by:
For a second or subsequent violation, the owner must deliver the vehicle's registration and license plates to the county treasurer (for the county where the citation was issued), where they will be held until the vehicle owner can demonstrate compliance with the law.
Keep in mind that these penalties will come on top of serious financial consequences if you cause a car accident and you don't have car insurance.