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Car insurance can be a significant monthly expense, but carrying a valid policy is required by law in most states. West Virginia is no exception. To drive legally here, car owners must have liability insurance and uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage. Failure to maintain minimum coverage may result in penalties and fees.
Car insurance laws in West Virginia
Per the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV), West Virginia car insurance laws specify that policies must include at least:
- $25,000 in bodily injury liability per person
- $50,000 in bodily injury liability per accident
- $25,000 in property damage liability
- $25,000 in uninsured motorist bodily injury coverage per person
- $50,000 in uninsured motorist bodily injury coverage per accident
- $25,000 in uninsured motorist property damage coverage
WV drivers must carry proof of insurance in their vehicles and keep their addresses updated with the DMV, as well.
Liability insurance in West Virginia
Liability insurance is the most common type of coverage. It is designed to pay for damage or injuries other drivers sustain in an accident you cause. For those who purchase the minimum required coverage in West Virginia, payouts are capped at $25,000 per person and $50,000 per accident for medical expenses and $25,000 per accident for property damage.
Uninsured motorist coverage is also required by the state unless drivers reject it in writing. This type of insurance offers financial protection in the event you and your passengers are involved in an accident where the at-fault driver doesn’t have adequate coverage. With a minimum policy, uninsured motorist bodily injury would pay out $25,000 per person or $50,000 per accident toward medical expenses and lost wages, while uninsured motorist property damage would cover up to $25,000 in vehicle damage.
That said, insurance experts note that purchasing the state’s bare-minimum coverage may leave you financially vulnerable. If you cause an accident and the damage exceeds your insurance limits, you could be held liable for the remaining amount and sued if you can’t afford to pay. Increasing your policy limits may help avoid this scenario; however, your insurance premiums will likely be more expensive.
Keep in mind that liability insurance provides coverage for other drivers’ injuries and property damage, but it typically doesn’t cover your costs. You can bolster your plan by adding collision insurance, which helps repair your vehicle after a crash regardless of fault, and comprehensive insurance, which helps pay for non-collision-related damage (like damage from fire, theft, vandalism, falling objects and animals). Altogether, this is commonly called full coverage.
If you are unsure how much insurance coverage you need, consider reviewing your situation with a licensed insurance agent.
Is West Virginia a no-fault state?
In no-fault states, drivers use their own insurance coverage for repairs no matter who is at fault for the accident. However, West Virginia is not a no-fault state.
Instead, West Virginia is a “tort” state. This means if you are involved in an accident here, fault will be assigned to one (or more) of the drivers. Fault allocation is what the insurance company will use to determine who is responsible for paying for the resulting damage. If it is deemed that you are less than 50% at fault for the accident, you may be able to recover your losses from the other parties involved.
Penalties for driving without insurance in West Virginia
Because car insurance is designed to protect everyone on the road, driving without insurance can come with hefty penalties in West Virginia. Drivers without proof of insurance — and those who aren’t insured at all — may face the following consequences:
- Driver’s license suspension
- Vehicle registration suspension
- Fines and/or jail time
- Reinstatement fees of $50 to $100 or more
- Other fees
If you provide fraudulent insurance information to the WV DMV, your license could be suspended for 90 days. Additionally, you may face vehicle revocation and could even be prosecuted, risking a fine of up to $1,000 and jail time of up to one year.
Additional auto insurance coverage options in West Virginia
In addition to liability-only and full coverage policies, other types of insurance are available in West Virginia. These include personal injury protection, roadside assistance and rental car insurance, to name a few. While adding coverage will increase your monthly premium, it could save you money down the road.
Here’s a brief description of each coverage type:
- Personal injury protection: Personal injury protection, or PIP, can help injured parties cover medical expenses, lost wages, funeral costs or other essential services.
- Roadside assistance: Roadside assistance coverage can potentially assist you if you run out of gas, get locked out of your car, need to be towed, require a tire change or are otherwise stranded.
- Rental coverage: Rental car coverage could help pay for the cost of a rental car if your insured vehicle is being repaired due to a covered loss.
Frequently asked questions
There is no one best insurance provider for every person. When choosing a car insurance carrier, consider factors like price, available discounts, customer satisfaction and claims processes. To get started, review our list of the best options in West Virginia.
Car insurance companies consider several factors when calculating quotes, including a driver’s age, vehicle, ZIP code, driving record and more. That said, the cheapest car insurance in West Virginia will vary from person to person. Experts recommend obtaining quotes from multiple companies to find the most affordable rate for you. Just be sure to specify the same coverage types and policy limits (or as close as possible) for each quote so you’re comparing apples to apples.
To get your license reinstated after it has been suspended for driving without insurance or failing to provide proof of insurance, you will need to carry out your suspension period, provide proof of insurance and pay the reinstatement fee. Fees can be paid online through the West Virginia DMV.