With a longer coastline than all other U.S. states combined, Alaska boasts some of the wildest, most remote destinations in North America. With nearly 500 miles separating this frontier-type state from the other continental states, Alaska’s remoteness sets it apart culturally as well as geographically. Ranking as the largest state, driving through Alaska can challenge the driver as well as the vehicle. CheapCarInsurance.net has put together some great facts to help protect drivers, whether visiting, living or working in the “Land of the Midnight Sun”.
LAWS & REGULATIONS
Just like Alaska’s terrain that varies from ocean front, to glacier peaks, to thick forests, the state’s insurance laws and regulations can be difficult to navigate. Following is a list of useful points to help in the insurance frontier.
Minimum Requirements for Car Insurance in Alaska
- The Alaska Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) requires drivers of a registered vehicle to insure their vehicles and to carry proof of insurance at all times. The minimum requirement for Alaskan drivers is liability coverage.
- Alaska Liability Coverage minimums include:
- $50,000 for bodily injury and $100,000 for death in a car accident.
- $25,000 for property damage.
- Alaska requires a vehicle to be insured in order to register the vehicle in the state; however, several areas are exempt from registration and insurance requirements. For a list of such areas, visit Alaska’s DMV website.
New Driver Licensing Requirements
Due to the high volume of rural areas and residents in Alasks, drivers license requirements vary depending on the area in which the vehicle will be operated. For a list of areas that fall under the Class D Off-Highway Drivers License, visit the DMV’s list of Exempt from Registration areas.
Regardless of residence, a driver must be 16 years of age or older and have a valid drivers license to operate a vehicle in the state of Alaska. Applicants under 18 must apply for a provisional license and hold that license for 6 months before becoming eligible for a regular license. A parent, legal guardian or employer must provide proof of 40 hours of supervised driving, 10 of which must be in challenging driving conditions. Parental consent is needed to obtain a provisional license for an applicant under the age of 18.
The following lists the requirements to obtain an Alaskan license for residents in urban areas. Additional information can be found in the Alaska Drivers Manual.
- Vision Test. Vision accuity of 20/40 or greater must be verified by the vision test for an applicant to be eligible for a drivers license. If corrective lenses must be worn to pass the test, then the corrective lenses must be worn while driving. If the applicant fails the test, he/she will be denied a license until able to pass.
- Written Test. This test is required for new applicants, applicants whose license has been expired for more than 1 year or applicants who have had their license revoked. Prior to obtaining a new license and if the applicant is over 21, an alcohol awareness test must be passed. Failure to pass the test results in a one day waiting period prior to being able to re-take the test.
- Road Test. This test is required for new applicants, applicants who have had no valid license for 5 or more years or applicants whose license has been revoked. Every applicant must provide a $15 testing fee and a registered, insured vehicle. The test is administered to evaluate the following skills:
- Starting and stopping
- Parallel parking and three point turn
- Quick stop
- Use of turn signals
- Left and right turns
- Speed control
- Proper lane change
- Vehicle control
- Traffic signs, signals and markings
- Following distance
If the applicant fails the road test, there is a 10 day waiting period to be eligible to re-take the test.
- Pay a License Fee. A $25.00 fee is payable for the issuance of a regular Alaskan Drivers License.
- Residents in the listed “Exempt from Registration” areas are not required to take the road test to obtain their “Off-Highway” drivers license. After completing the written test, these applicants should submit an Application for Remote Area Drivers License, Permit or ID Card to Juneau Driver Licensing. A learner’s permit is recommended but not required for remote area applicants.
- BAC limit: .08 Driving under the influence in Alaska holds mandatory jail time regardless of prior convictions or driving record. The Alaska DMV has published a helpful document regarding DUI laws that can be accessed here.
- First Offense:
- Minimum jail time of 72 hours
- Minimum fine of $1,500.
- Ignition interlock device for 6 months.
- License revocation of 30 days.
- Cost of imprisonment is listed at $330.
- Second Offense:
- Minimum jail time of 20 days
- Minimum fine of $3,000.
- Ignition interlock device for 12 months.
- License revocation of 1 year.
- Cost of imprisonment is listed at $1,467.
- Third Offense:
- Minimum jail time of 60 days.
- Minimum fine of $4,000.
- Ignition interlock device for 18 months.
- License revocation of 4 years.
- Beginning with the third offense, each subsequent offense can be with a felony or misdemeanor. If convicted as a felony, the penalties are severely increased.
Texting & Driving Laws
Distraction.gov states that Alaska has banned all texting for all drivers.
Unique laws abound in the great state of Alaska, and a good one to know states that waking a sleeping bear for the purpose of taking its picture is illegal. It is also illegal to whisper in someone’s ear while they are moose hunting, and if you are bringing your pet along for the ride, it is illegal to tie the pet to the roof of your car.
Average Car Insurance Premiums
Alaska’s insurance premiums have remained above the national average for the past 20 years, and it shows no signs of declining. On the other hand, NAIC.org indicates the state’s premiums as a percentage of income has been below the national average during that same time with the exception of 2009 and 2010.
Drunk Driving Fatalities
In the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s annual report, it revealed Alaska had drastically reduced its number of drunk driving fatalities. Although the state has consistently been below the national average, 2012 showed a significant improvement over prior years. That changed in 2013 with a dramatic increase that remained the same in 2014. Still, the state remains below the national average.
Teen Drinking and Driving
Alaskan teens drink and drive at a much lower percentage than the national average, according to the Center for Disease Control.
Vehicular Theft in Alaska
The FBI reports that auto thefts are on the rise in Alaska, and easily outnumbered the national average in 2014.
State Department of Insurance
Department of Commerce, Community and Economic Development
Division of Insurance
Robert B. Atwood Building
550 W. 7th Avenue, Suite 1560
Anchorage, Alaska 99501-3597