Key takeaways

  • Virginia drivers are required to carry the state’s minimum insurance coverage or pay the DMV an uninsured motor vehicle (UMV) fee of $500 at every registration renewal.
  • The state voted to discontinue its UMV fee, and you will no longer be able to register an uninsured vehicle as of July 2024.
  • If you are caught driving without insurance in Virginia, you could face license suspension, a $600 noncompliance fee, a license reinstatement fee and an SR-22 requirement.
  • The average cost of a minimum coverage car insurance policy in Virginia is $494 per year.

By July 1, 2024, all drivers operating their vehicles on public roads in Virginia will be required to carry at least the state-mandated minimum amount of liability insurance. Drivers in the state were previously able to pay a $500 fee and drive uninsured, but this policy was overturned by new legislation that requires everyone with a registered vehicle to have car insurance. Updates have also been made to Virginia’s laws regarding minimum coverage.

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 typically reads as “30/60/20” on your policy. Keep in mind that these are just the minimum amounts of coverage. Experts recommend increasing coverage limits to protect yourself financially. Once you’ve signed a policy, you should carry proof of insurance when you drive. Virginia does allow drivers to show electronic proof of insurance.

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, however. Although you technically can drive without insurance if you pay the UMV fee, you may want to consider purchasing a policy anyway, especially since the state passed a law discontinuing the UMV fee allowance starting in July 2024.

Even minimum coverage could provide some financial protection if you cause an accident. Considering the low average cost of insurance in Virginia — $657 per year for minimum coverage, according to premium data from Quadrant Information Services — it may make more sense to take the money you would use on the UMV fee and put it toward an insurance policy instead.

New car insurance laws in Virginia

It’s worth noting that Virginia recently passed a law that will no longer allow uninsured vehicles to be registered as of July 1, 2024. Proponents of the law argued that the bill will reduce the number of uninsured drivers on Virginia roads, which could save Virginian drivers money on their car insurance.

Drivers should also be aware that the state’s minimum insurance requirements are scheduled to increase on January 1, 2025, according to a law passed in 2021. 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

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Penalties for driving without insurance in Virginia

To encourage motorists to only operate an insured vehicle, Virginia imposes strict penalties on uninsured drivers. If you drive an uninsured vehicle, you can incur expensive fees and even lose your license. Penalties for driving without insurance in Virginia include:

  • Paying a $600 noncompliance fee to the DMV
  • Obtaining an SR-22 certificate for three years
  • Paying a reinstatement fee of $145, 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?

Although often called SR-22 insurance, an SR-22 is not actually an insurance policy. It is a certificate filed by your insurance company with the state that proves you carry the required minimum car insurance coverage in the state.

Most drivers do not need SR-22s; the document is mainly required for drivers who are in the high-risk category, such as those convicted of a DUI or driving uninsured. Drivers with an SR-22 requirement may need to switch carriers to find one that files SR-22s and will likely pay above-average rates for coverage based on their driving record.

Virginia is also one of two states with an FR-44 requirement for certain high-risk drivers (Florida is the other). An FR-44 is similar to an SR-22, but in addition to proving that you meet minimum coverage requirements, you are required to carry at least double the state minimum amount of liability coverage. Whether you need an SR-22 or FR-44 in Virginia will depend on the severity of your offense and conviction specifics. You can check with the Virginia DMV for more details.

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 Virginia 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 $657 annually for minimum liability coverage and $1,960 for full coverage. However, the cost of car insurance in Virginia varies 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. Car insurance companies have different discount offerings and rating algorithms, so shopping around will help you find the best rate for your circumstances.
    • Until July 2024, most drivers can operate a vehicle without car insurance in Virginia if they pay an uninsured vehicle fee of $500 to the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV). This fee does not provide any insurance coverage. After July 2024, all drivers in Virginia will be legally required to purchase at least the state’s minimum amount of liability insurance. If you are stopped by law enforcement and cannot prove that you have coverage, you will have 30 days to respond by providing proof of insurance before you are subject to penalties. If you cause an accident without insurance in Virginia, you will have to pay for the damage you cause out of pocket.
    • Finding the best car insurance company for your needs means first deciding on your priorities. If affordable coverage is your top interest, for example, you may want to consider a company that is known for consistently writing cheap car insurance policies. If you have a teen driver in your house, you may be more interested in a company that offers discounts for young drivers. Or perhaps you are retired or work from home, in which case your best choice might be a company that offers low-mileage coverage. If you’re looking for the best car insurance for Virginia drivers, comparing quotes, coverage options and customer service reviews is a good place to begin your search.