While Colorado’s premiums are higher than average, its auto insurance minimums are fairly typical for the nation as a whole. That said, they still offer only limited protection in the event of an accident. And, even though comprehensive coverage isn’t required, it’s worth serious consideration in a state that ranked ninth in vehicle thefts and ranked second in insured losses due to catastrophes in 2016. Uninsured motorist coverage is also a good idea, since roughly one in six Colorado drivers aren’t insured for even the state minimums. The bottom line: to really feel comfortable behind the wheel, you’ll probably want to go beyond what Colorado requires, or be prepared for the possibility of hefty out-of-pocket costs.

Colorado Minimum Liability

Colorado requires only that you insure yourself against bodily injury and property damage liability, so it’s your choice whether to add coverage for yourself, your passengers, and your vehicle. The state’s liability minimums can be expressed in the shorthand 25/50/15 (the format we’ll use throughout this review), which means the following:

  • $25,000 bodily injury coverage per person
  • $50,000 bodily injury coverage per accident
  • $15,000 property damage coverage per accident

These amounts are a good starting point, but there are still plenty of situations in which they wouldn’t completely cover your financial liability. For instance, if you accidentally hit a luxury car, $15,000 for property damage might not be enough to fully repair it. Likewise, if the other driver is injured, $25,000 of bodily injury coverage could fall short of his or her total medical bill. In each case, you’d be responsible for making up the difference yourself.

It’s generally a good idea to buy as much auto insurance as you can afford.

Colorado isn’t unusual in its requirements (most other states have similar minimums), so it’s generally a good idea to buy as much insurance as you can afford, no matter where you live. You can think of it as purchasing peace of mind, or freedom from the worry of getting blindsided by a huge bill.

When we say "what you can afford," we mean how much you can budget to pay for your monthly premium. Your premium cost depends largely on your personal profile: your age, credit score, how much you drive, and the type of vehicle you’re insuring (among other things). Different providers will also charge you more or less for the same coverage, so you’ll want to compare quotes to find the cheapest rate for you.

Our reviews of Colorado’s top auto insurers are a good place to begin your search, taking into account a range of important qualities in addition to price.

Colorado Auto Insurance Reviews

State Farm

With just over 20 percent of Colorado’s insured drivers, State Farm must be doing more than a few things right — and indeed its customers are among the most satisfied with their claims experiences according to both J.D. Power and Consumer Reports. State Farm also has the fewest number of 2016 complaints in Colorado of any insurer of our top four.

Elite financial strength is another point in State Farm’s favor, and its website and quote collection tool are good at helping you understand which coverages best fit your needs (we would’ve liked a Live Chat feature, but that’s a small detail). The only real knock against State Farm is that it gave us some of the most expensive quotes we collected. But again, it’s worth getting a quote yourself, especially if you’re a teen driver — State Farm offers more young-driver discounts than most.

American Family

Another solid choice, American Family gets high marks for its claims-handling, particularly from Consumer Reports, whose readers placed it alongside Progressive. J.D. Power readers were slightly less complimentary, but American Family was still better than average in the number of 2016 complaints it received from consumers, which suggests you’re in capable hands when it comes to having your claim processed. We also appreciated the company’s straightforward and informative website, including the most comprehensive FAQ page we encountered in our research.

American Family fell slightly below the others in terms of financial strength, but it’s still rated highly enough that you shouldn’t feel at all worried about getting your claims paid. In terms of cost, the company was middle of the pack for each of our driver profiles: not cheap, but never the most expensive either. There’s always the chance that you’ll qualify for one of the company’s numerous discounts, (including one that comes just for switching to American Family from one of its competitors), so call or go online to get a personalized quote.

Progressive

In terms of claims satisfaction, Consumer Reports and J.D. Power readers gave both Progressive high marks; the biggest difference in consumer sentiment was that Progressive had about 40 percent more complaints in Colorado in 2016. That's certainly not a great stat, but we don't think it should turn you off completely — especially if a cheaper rate from Progressive means the difference in whether you can afford comprehensive and/or UIM coverage, two especially valuable add-ons in Colorado.

Allstate

Among our top providers, Allstate was about average in financial strength, slightly below the rest of the group in claims satisfaction, and one of the most expensive in its quotes, cheaper only than State Farm. It also had more than the average number of consumer complaints in Colorado in 2016, and we found its website to be slightly harder to navigate than others: While big on eye-catching graphics, it took us a little longer to zero in on relevant coverages and discounts.

Allstate is definitely a reputable company with all the protections you could want for your vehicle (including “gap” insurance for new cars), but just didn’t really distinguish itself in our comparison. Still, finding the best rate on car insurance is a matter of comparing personalized quotes, so if Allstate offers you a great rate, it’s a completely valid option.

A note on USAA

We only compared insurers that sell policies to the general public, but if you have a military connection (as many Coloradans do), USAA is another excellent choice for auto insurance. It actually topped all the other companies we reviewed in both financial strength and claims satisfaction, and it insures more Colorado drivers (nearly 10 percent) than any other company except State Farm. So if you or a family member is active or former military, you should absolutely get a quote from USAA.

Comprehensive auto insurance is an especially good idea in Colorado.

So-called “comprehensive” auto insurance, which protects you against theft or damage that’s not the result of a collision, isn’t required in any state, but in Colorado it’s a particularly smart addition to your policy. In 2016, the state ranked second only to Texas in losses due to extreme weather. Hailstorms especially have caused havoc; a May 2017 storm in the Denver metro area resulted in $1.4 billion in damage, much of it to unsheltered vehicles.

Colorado also ranked ninth in statewide vehicle thefts in 2016, and the city of Pueblo had the second-highest theft rate of any metropolitan area in the country.

Late-model car owners in particular should consider comprehensive coverage. Newer vehicles are more expensive to insure, but they’re also more likely to be stolen and more expensive to repair.

Car insurance premiums are rising faster in Colorado than in almost any other state.

Between 2011 and 2017, auto insurance premiums in the United States rose by an average of 20 percent — but in Colorado they jumped by 54 percent, the third highest rate of increase behind only Montana and Mississippi. Extreme weather and vehicle theft have much to do with the spike, but there’s also evidence that the legalization of marijuana has made insurers more nervous: In 2016 and 2017, premiums in states where pot is legal climbed a little over 3 percent, compared to 1.6 percent in states where it’s still outlawed.

Unfortunately, the trend in more expensive premiums also means more drivers will stop short of fully insuring themselves, so it’s always smart to carry uninsured/ underinsured motorist coverage.

Unfortunately, the trend in more expensive premiums also means more drivers will stop short of fully insuring themselves, so it’s always smart to carry uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage. Colorado actually requires insurance companies to offer you this coverage in amounts equal to what you select for bodily injury liability, so it’s worth asking your insurer about your options for adding it — it might not raise your premium by as much as you think.