Car insurance is a legal requirement in West Virginia. In order to drive on public roads, all drivers must purchase certain amounts of bodily injury and property damage liability. Additionally, you need to carry proof of insurance in your vehicle at all times. Although a legitimate car insurance carrier will not sell you a policy that does not fulfill West Virginia car insurance requirements, this guide covers what those requirements are and why you may want to purchase more than the legal minimum.

Car insurance laws in West Virginia

Per the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV), West Virginia auto insurance laws specify that all car insurance policies must have the following coverage types with at least these limits:

  • $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 liability per person
  • $50,000 in uninsured bodily injury liability per accident
  • $25,000 in uninsured motorist property damage liability

All West Virginia auto insurance companies are required by law to offer underinsured motorist coverage, which you can carry along with your liability insurance. This kind of coverage adds a layer of financial protection if you are involved in an accident with a driver whose insurance limits are too low to cover the costs of the accident. Additional limits for uninsured and underinsured coverage are available, but only underinsured motorist coverage can be declined in writing.

In addition to carrying the coverage types listed above, WV car insurance laws also require drivers to carry proof of insurance in their vehicles and to keep their addresses up to date with the DMV.

Liability insurance in West Virginia

Most states’ minimum insurance limits include liability insurance. This type of car insurance is designed to pay for the damage you cause in an accident, whether that’s to another person or their property. 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.

That said, most 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. Although it is likely to increase your insurance premium, selecting higher liability limits may help you avoid high out-of-pocket expenses in this situation.

Keep in mind that liability insurance provides coverage for other drivers’ injuries and property damage in an at-fault accident, 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 car insurance.

If you are unsure how much insurance coverage you need, consider reviewing your situation with a licensed insurance agent.

Penalties for driving without insurance in West Virginia

Because car insurance is designed to financially 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 West Virginia 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 may be available in West Virginia, depending on your carrier. While adding coverage types, or endorsements, will generally increase your premium, it could save you money down the road. Here are a few common endorsement options you might find with West Virginia car insurance companies:

  • 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

    • Since car insurance policies are customized for every driver, and insurers all use their own methods for determining premiums, there is no single company that is always going to write the cheapest policy for everyone, each time. Finding the best policy for your needs can start with determining your priorities. If you have prior violations on your record, for example, you may want to look at a company known for writing high-risk policies. If you work from home or are retired, a company that offers low-mileage coverage may be a good fit. If you’ve got teen drivers at home, look at companies with a reputation for writing low-cost insurance for young drivers. Once you have a sense of what your most important priorities are, you can ask for quotes from several of the top insurers in West Virginia that fit your needs, to see which one gives you the most competitive rate.
    • Your car insurance company will look at a number of relevant factors when determining your rate, from your car’s make, model and age to your own age and even your credit history. There are a few strategies you can follow to find the cheapest policy in West Virginia for your needs. To start with, consider asking for quotes from a range of insurers to see which one has the most competitive rate for you. If possible, talk to an agent who can go over discount options to ensure you’re getting every possible price reduction for which you are eligible. If your finances allow it, consider asking for a high deductible for full coverage, since that will generally lead to a lower premium. Just be careful your deductible is an amount you would be comfortable paying in the event of a claim.
    • No, West Virginia is not a no-fault state. West Virginia is a tort state, which means the party determined to be at fault for causing the accident is responsible for paying for the not-at-fault driver’s bills. The at-fault driver would need to rely on their auto insurance policy in order to cover the costs.
    • 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 may be paid online at the state DMV website or in person at your local DMV office.