Washington, D.C. car insurance laws

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If you are a resident of Washington, D.C., and you operate a vehicle, you are required to adhere to the area’s car insurance laws. Ignoring these laws means drivers could face fines and other penalties. While the Capital of America only has 535,000 licensed drivers — one of the lowest numbers in the country — residents are subject to minimum requirements for insurance and showing proof of coverage.

Understanding how the car insurance laws in Washington, D.C. affect your policy is helpful as you research your best insurance options. Not only is knowing the bare minimum requirement useful, but you should also be familiar with other options available to you.

Car insurance laws in Washington, D.C.

Car insurance laws in Washington, D.C., involve several aspects of policy management, including minimum insurance requirements, not letting coverage lapse and consequences for a lapse in coverage. Some of these laws include:

Auto insurance is mandatory for drivers in Washington, D.C., including liability coverage.
Drivers who let their insurance coverage lapse will receive fines and vehicle registration suspension.
You must show proof of insurance when you register your vehicle.

In addition to showing proof of insurance at any time and carrying minimum coverage, insurance companies are required to report any cancellations or terminations of auto insurance policies. You can avoid potential fines and penalties mandated by the government by maintaining a legal auto insurance policy at all times.

Liability insurance in Washington, D.C.

In addition to liability coverage requirements of 25/50/10 for drivers in Washington, D.C., uninsured and underinsured coverage is also required. All requirements are as follows:

  • Bodily injury liability of $25,000 per person
  • Bodily injury liability of $50,000 per accident
  • Property damage liability of $10,000 per accident
  • Uninsured Motorist Bodily Injury of $25,000 per person and $50,000 per accident
  • Uninsured Motorist Property Damage of $5,000, subject to $200 deductible

While maintaining the minimum insurance requirements in Washington, D.C. allows you to drive legally, there may be other requirements from the lender for your vehicle. If you lease or finance a car, be prepared to also purchase comprehensive and collision insurance. Although these are usually optional, if you do not own your vehicle outright, a lender can require the purchase. These provide additional payments towards the repair or replacement of your vehicle due to an accident or peril event.

Is Washington, D.C. a no-fault area?

Washington, D.C. is considered a no-fault area. This means if you are involved in an accident, all drivers must file a claim with their respective insurance carriers, regardless of which driver is at-fault for the accident.

Washington, D.C. is technically not a true no-fault state. True no-fault states require drivers to purchase personal injury protection coverage (PIP). Unlike other no-fault states, PIP is not required in Washington, D.C., although it is legally required to be offered by auto insurance carriers.

Penalties for driving without insurance in Washington, D.C.

Driving without insurance in Washington, D.C., comes with stiff penalties, and you must be able to show proof of coverage if stopped by law enforcement. If caught, drivers without insurance are subject to up to a $150 fine for the first thirty days coverage has lapsed. For each thirty day period after the initial thirty days, the fine increases by $7. If you are subject to fines, you may qualify for a payment plan through the DMV.

Additional auto insurance coverage options in Washington, D.C.

In addition to liability, uninsured and underinsured motorist coverage, there are optional coverages available to drivers. These coverages provide greater financial protection either if you are involved in an accident or even with extra conveniences for your everyday driving needs:

  • Roadside assistance:This optional coverage provides assistance if your vehicle is inoperable due to running out of gas, needing a tow, battery charge, tire change or other similar emergency situations.
  • Gap insurance: This coverage is optional, although some lenders require it if you lease or finance a vehicle. This coverage pays the gap if your vehicle is valued at less than the amount you owe, should it be totaled from an accident. It keeps you from having to make a large out-of-pocket payment to cover the difference.
  • PIP: You may want to consider this optional coverage because it covers expenses related to medical payments, lost wages and even funeral costs for you and your passengers if you are involved in an accident.
  • Rental car reimbursement: This provides payments toward rental car expenses, should you need to rent due to repair or replacement for your vehicle that was involved in an accident.

Frequently asked questions

What is the best car insurance company in Washington, D.C.?

There are numerous considerations to find the best car insurance in Washington, D.C. While customer service ratings, financial strength and stability and low, competitive rates are all important, other factors may be equally important to you.

What is the cheapest car insurance in Washington, D.C.?

Bankrate uses Quadrant Information Services to analyze rates across the area and found Erie, Geico, Progressive, State Farm and USAA offer some of the cheapest rates in Washington, D.C. However, average rates may not reflect what you will pay. Comparing several carriers to one another is one of the most effective ways to obtain the lowest rates for the coverage you need.

How much does car insurance cost in Washington, D.C.?

Driving in the nation’s capital is more expensive versus other parts of the country. The average cost of insurance in Washington, D.C., is $704 per year for a minimum coverage policy. A full coverage policy averages $1,855 per year, which is well-above the national average of $1,674.

Written by
Sara Coleman
Insurance Contributor
Sara Coleman has three years of experience in writing for insurance domains such as Bankrate, The Simple Dollar, Reviews.com, Coverage.com and numerous other personal finance sites. She writes about insurance products such as auto, homeowners, renters and disability.
Edited by
Loans Editor