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.

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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:

  • $25,000 for bodily injury per person
  • $50,000 for bodily injury per accident
  • $20,000 for property damage per accident

This coverage will typically read as “25/50/25” on your policy and the DMV recommends that you always carry proof of insurance in your vehicle. Virginia does allow drivers to operate an uninsured vehicle at their own risk but requires an Uninsured Motor Vehicle (UMV) fee to be paid at each renewal. This fee does not provide any coverage in the event of an accident.

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

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 also tells auto insurance companies in Virginia that you are a high-risk driver, which typically increases the cost of your insurance premiums. Evidence of an SR-22 will stay on your insurance record for three 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 protect another driver if you cause an accident, most insurance agents and financial advisors will suggest that you purchase higher amounts of coverage than required, just to be safe. Getting into an accident without any insurance coverage 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

What if you provide false insurance information?

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.

How much is car insurance in Virginia?

The average cost of car insurance in Virginia is about $109 annually for minimum liability coverage and $1,304 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.

How do I provide proof of insurance to the VA DMV?

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).

Should I deactivate my plates before I cancel insurance?

You should always permanently surrender or deactivate your plates before you cancel liability insurance on your vehicle. If you cancel insurance on an active plate, the VA DMV will consider you to be operating an uninsured vehicle, even if that vehicle is not in use.