Driving is a normal part of everyday life, so you may not always think about the logistics that go into maintaining a car on the road. However, it is important to follow and understand your state’s insurance laws. In West Virginia, drivers must maintain mandatory insurance limits to operate a vehicle.
West Virginia mandatory insurance limits are designed to provide protection for others when an accident occurs. However, you may need to obtain additional coverage to protect yourself, your passengers and your vehicle. Accidents are not uncommon in West Virginia according to these 2019 statistics by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS):
- West Virginia had 247 fatal crashes in 2019
- Over half of the accident-related deaths in West Virginia occurred in single-vehicle crashes.
- 120 drivers were killed in alcohol-related crashes.
- Meeting the car insurance requirements can help protect your finances.
Car insurance laws in West Virginia
Car insurance laws vary by state, but most states require a minimum amount of insurance coverage for drivers. The West Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles requires the following mandatory coverage limits:
- $25,000 bodily injury liability per person / $50,000 liability per accident (two or more injuries)
- $25,000 property damage liability
- $25,000 uninsured motorist bodily injury per person / $50,000 per accident
- $25,000 uninsured motorist property damage
Drivers in West Virginia are also required to keep proof of insurance in their vehicle and keep their address updated with the DMV. If your vehicle is only used seasonally or part-time, you still must carry the minimum insurance limits during the time the vehicle is not in storage.
Liability insurance in West Virginia
Liability insurance coverage is the most common coverage among insurance policies and is typically required in every state. In West Virginia, drivers are required to carry a minimum of $25,000 bodily injury liability per person and up to $50,000 bodily injury liability per accident. This breakdown means that if you cause an accident where another person is injured, they can recover up to $25,000 for accident-related damages. If more than one person is injured, your insurance policy will cap the payout at $50,000 per accident.
Uninsured motorists’ coverage of the same limits is also required which pays out in the event of an accident when another driver is uninsured. Additionally, underinsured motorists’ coverage of the same $25,000 / $50,000 limits can provide protection if there is not enough coverage available, but this coverage can be formally rejected in writing.
However, just because these limits are the minimum amount of coverage required does not mean that you have purchased enough insurance coverage.
If you cause an accident and damages exceed your insurance limits, you can be sued for the remaining funds and be held liable for payment. Although your premium will go up, you can always increase your limits on these coverages to provide additional protection for yourself against any claims arising from an accident.
You will also need to purchase additional coverage if you want to protect your vehicle by adding collision, which could payout for vehicle damages after an accident, or comprehensive coverage which may payout for non-crash related costs caused by fire, theft, vandalism, falling objects and animals. If you are unsure how much insurance coverage you need, you may want to review your unique situation with your insurance agent.
Is West Virginia a no-fault state?
You may have heard the phrase “no-fault state” when referring to insurance damages. In no-fault states, drivers use their own insurance coverage for repairs no matter who is at fault for the accident.
West Virginia is not a no-fault state but is instead a “tort” state, which means if you are involved in an accident in West Virginia, fault will be assigned to one (or more) of the drivers. This fault determination is what the insurance company will use to consider who is responsible for covering the accident. 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 fact, the West Virginia DMV sets specific consequences for drivers who choose to drive without insurance or who fail to provide proof of insurance when prompted for verification:
- License and registration suspension
- $100 fee to reinstate the vehicle registration
- $50 penalty if a secure order is on the license plate
- $50 driver’s license reinstatement fee
The length of suspension can be extended if you are facing a repeated violation.
If you provide fraudulent insurance information to the WV DMV, your license will be suspended for 90 days. Additionally, you face vehicle revocation and could even be prosecuted risking a fine up to $1,000 and up to a year of jail time.
Additional auto insurance coverage options in West Virginia
Aside from West Virginia’s required liability and uninsured motorists coverages along with the optional collision and comprehensive coverage that can protect your vehicle, there are additional insurance coverage options that you could purchase if you are seeking peace of mind while on the road.
Additional insurance coverage may increase your premium but typically the cost is seen as a worthwhile investment that could save you hassle and money in the long run. Some additional coverages you may consider include:
- Personal injury protection: Personal injury protection, or PIP, is a coverage available to injured parties to help cover medical expenses, lost wages, funeral costs or even essential services required after a serious injury.
- Roadside assistance/towing: Some insurance companies may offer roadside assistance coverage that can assist you if you run out of gas, get locked out of your car, need to be towed, need a tire changed or other roadside assistance.
- Rental coverage: Insurance companies may offer rental car coverage for the daily cost of a rental car when your insured vehicle is being repaired due to a covered loss.
Frequently asked questions
What is the best car insurance company in West Virginia?
There is no one best insurance provider for every person. When choosing a car insurance carrier, consider factors like premium rate, available discounts, customer satisfaction and ease of claims process. To get started, review our list of the best options in West Virginia.
What is the cheapest car insurance in West Virginia?
Every car insurance company uses a different algorithm to determine premium rates and every individual’s insurance premium will be different depending on their unique circumstances. To find the cheapest car insurance in West Virginia, obtain quotes from multiple companies.
How do I pay reinstatement fees after my license has been suspended for driving without insurance in West Virginia?
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.