Driving without insurance in Virginia
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The state of Virginia requires drivers to carry auto insurance on any registered vehicle that will be operated on the road. Car insurance exists to provide financial protection in the event of an accident and may cover expenses like medical bills and property damage. In Virginia, there is a minimum amount of liability coverage that every driver must carry and driving without insurance in Virginia can result in hefty fines, a suspended license and higher insurance premiums. Before you drive in Virginia, it is important to know the state’s specific insurance requirements.
- Although most insurance professionals recommend against it, driving without insurance in Virginia is currently legal as long as you pay the DMV an uninsured motor vehicle (UMV) fee of $500 every time you renew your registration.
- If you are caught driving without insurance in Virginia, you could face license suspension, a $600 noncompliance fee, license reinstatement fees and an SR-22 requirement.
- The average cost of a minimum coverage car insurance policy in Virginia is $494 per year. Since this is slightly below the UMV fee, your funds may be better spent on a car insurance policy that can provide at least some coverage in an at-fault accident.
Minimum insurance required in Virginia
The Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) requires all drivers to carry minimum liability insurance. When you register a new vehicle, you must comply with state laws by purchasing a policy that carries the following minimum insurance coverage:
- $30,000 bodily injury liability per person
- $60,000 bodily injury liability per accident
- $20,000 property damage liability per accident
This coverage will typically read as “30/60/20” on your policy and the DMV recommends that you always carry proof of insurance in your vehicle.
It may also be worth noting that Virginia’s state minimum insurance requirements are scheduled to increase on January 1, 2025. For policies that renew on or after this date, the new Virginia insurance requirements will be:
- $50,000 bodily injury liability per person
- $100,000 bodily injury liability per accident
- $25,000 property damage liability per accident
Virginia currently allows drivers to operate an uninsured vehicle at their own risk, but requires an uninsured motor vehicle (UMV) fee to be paid each time you renew your vehicle registration. This fee does not provide any coverage in the event of an accident. Even though you technically can drive without insurance if you pay the UMV fee, you may want to consider purchasing a policy, anyways. Even minimum coverage could provide some financial protection if you’re the driver in an at-fault accident. Considering the low average cost of insurance in Virginia ($494 per year for minimum coverage, according to Quadrant Information Services), it may make more sense to take the money you would use for your UMV fee and put it towards a policy instead.
It’s worth noting that Virginia recently passed a bill that will no longer allow uninsured vehicles to be registered as of July 1, 2024.
Penalties for driving without insurance in Virginia
To encourage motorists to only operate an insured vehicle, Virginia imposes strict penalties when a vehicle is found to be uninsured. If you drive an uninsured vehicle, you can incur expensive fees and even lose your license. Penalties for driving without insurance in VA include:
- Paying a $600 noncompliance fee to the DMV
- Obtaining a form SR-22 certificate for three years
- Paying reinstatement fees, if applicable, on your license, registration and plates
Additionally, insurance companies usually consider a lapse of insurance as a high-risk rating factor. As such, failing to maintain continuous coverage could result in an increase in average premiums.
What is an SR-22?
An SR-22 (Financial Responsibility Insurance Certificate) is essentially a required document that will be filed with the DMV that ensures you are carrying the legally required insurance coverage. This certificate could also indicate to auto insurance companies in Virginia that you are a high-risk driver, which typically increases the cost of your insurance premiums. If the state requires you to carry an SR-22, you must do so for three continuous years. Shopping for insurance may be challenging because some companies may refuse to issue you a policy when you require an SR-22 form.
Virginia’s online insurance verification system
The VA DMV utilizes an Insurance Verification Program to confirm that all registered vehicles in the state carry the required liability insurance. This program requires all insurance carriers to send proof of insurance to the DMV when a new policy is purchased or send notice when a policy has been canceled. If a vehicle is shown to not have insurance, the DMV will send a notice to the registered owner.
If you receive a notice that your vehicle is uninsured, you must immediately provide proof of insurance. If you do not respond or if there is no insurance, the DMV will issue an Order of Suspension and you will only have 30 days to pay the noncompliance penalty fee and acquire an SR-22 certificate. If the Order of Suspension does go into effect, a reinstatement fee must also be paid before the DMV will reinstate your driving privileges.
Getting into an accident without insurance
Although the minimum liability limits are designed to cover the other driver if you cause an accident, most insurance agents and financial advisors will suggest that you purchase higher amounts of coverage than required to offer more sufficient financial protection. Getting into an accident without any insurance can be detrimental. If you cause an accident resulting in medical expenses or property damage, you could be solely responsible for covering these costs – which can easily climb to thousands of dollars depending on the severity of an accident. The other driver may even file a lawsuit against you.
On top of that financial burden, the driver of the other vehicle could report the accident to the DMV due to lack of insurance. The DMV will then send you a notice requiring proof of insurance. Failure to provide proof of coverage will result in a $600 noncompliance fee and suspension of your driver’s license, registration and plates. Additionally, you will be required to maintain an SR-22 certificate for three years, which will likely result in higher insurance premiums for the policy you must now acquire in order to reverse the suspension. Reinstatement fees may also apply.
Frequently asked questions
The VA DMV utilizes an online reporting system in which auto insurance carriers notify the DMV of new or canceled policies. If you have provided false information, the insurance verification system will require you to submit proof of a current and active policy. If you are unable to do so, you may receive a penalty for driving without insurance in Virginia.
The average cost of car insurance in Virginia is about $494 annually for minimum liability coverage and $1,439 for full coverage. However, the cost of car insurance in Virginia will vary based on several factors including, but not limited to, the type of coverage you purchase, the amount of coverage you purchase, the type of vehicle you are insuring, your prior insurance history and your driving record. Rates and available discounts will vary depending on your car insurance company.
If you have received an insurance inquiry from the DMV, it is vital that you provide proof of insurance immediately because failure to do so can result in hefty fines, suspension of your driving privileges and insurance rate hikes. The DMV has an online form that allows drivers to submit proof of insurance in response to an inquiry letter. To use the form, you will need your vehicle title number and the last 4 digits of your Vehicle Identification Number (VIN).
Car insurance is personal — every driver has their own needs and wants. For instance, some Virginians are on a strict budget, making cheap premiums a must. Others are willing to spend a little extra for a company that offers unique endorsement options or highly-rated online tools. In short, no single carrier can claim to be the best car insurance company in Virginia. However, according to an extensive study conducted by Bankrate’s insurance experts, Geico, State Farm, Travelers, Nationwide and Erie could be great places to start.