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Driving without insurance in Virginia

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Key takeaways

  • Virginia drivers are required to carry the state’s minimum insurance coverage or pay the DMV an uninsured motor vehicle (UMV) fee of $500 at every registration renewal.
  • The state voted to discontinue its UMV fee, and you will no longer be able to register an uninsured vehicle as of July 2024.
  • If you are caught driving without insurance in Virginia, you could face license suspension, a $600 noncompliance fee, a license reinstatement fee and an SR-22 requirement.
  • The average cost of a minimum coverage car insurance policy in Virginia is $494 per year.

The state of Virginia requires drivers to carry auto insurance on any registered vehicle that will be operated on the road. Car insurance provides financial protection in the event of an accident and may cover expenses like medical bills and property damage. Drivers can also add coverage that pays for damages if the accident is caused by an uninsured driver. 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:

  • $30,000 bodily injury liability per person
  • $60,000 bodily injury liability per accident
  • $20,000 property damage liability per accident

This coverage typically reads as “30/60/20” on your policy. Keep in mind that these are just the minimum amounts of coverage. Experts recommend increasing coverage limits to protect yourself financially. Once you’ve signed a policy, you should carry proof of insurance when you drive. Virginia does allow drivers to show electronic proof of insurance.

Virginia currently allows drivers to operate an uninsured vehicle at their own risk but requires an uninsured motor vehicle (UMV) fee to be paid each time you renew your vehicle registration. This fee does not provide any coverage in the event of an accident, however. Although you technically can drive without insurance if you pay the UMV fee, you may want to consider purchasing a policy anyway, especially since the state passed a law discontinuing the UMV fee allowance starting in July 2024.

Even minimum coverage could provide some financial protection if you cause an accident. Considering the low average cost of insurance in Virginia — $494 per year for minimum coverage, according to premium data from Quadrant Information Services — it may make more sense to take the money you would use on the UMV fee and put it toward an insurance policy instead.

New car insurance laws in Virginia

It’s worth noting that Virginia recently passed a law that will no longer allow uninsured vehicles to be registered as of July 1, 2024. Proponents of the law argued that the bill will reduce the number of uninsured drivers on Virginia roads, which could save Virginian drivers money on their car insurance.

Drivers should also be aware that the state’s minimum insurance requirements are scheduled to increase on January 1, 2025, according to a law passed in 2021. For policies that renew on or after this date, the new Virginia insurance requirements will be:

  • $50,000 bodily injury liability per person
  • $100,000 bodily injury liability per accident
  • $25,000 property damage liability per accident

Penalties for driving without insurance in Virginia

To encourage motorists to only operate an insured vehicle, Virginia imposes strict penalties on uninsured drivers. If you drive an uninsured vehicle, you can incur expensive fees and even lose your license. Penalties for driving without insurance in Virginia include:

  • Paying a $600 noncompliance fee to the DMV
  • Obtaining an SR-22 certificate for three years
  • Paying a reinstatement fee, if applicable, on your license, registration and plates

Additionally, insurance companies usually consider a lapse of insurance as a high-risk rating factor. As such, failing to maintain continuous coverage could result in an increase in average premiums.

What is an SR-22?

An SR-22 is a document that you’re required to file with the DMV that proves you are carrying the legally required insurance coverage. This certificate could also indicate to auto insurance companies in Virginia that you are a high-risk driver, which typically increases the cost of your insurance premiums. If the state requires you to carry an SR-22, you must do so for three continuous years. Shopping for insurance may be challenging because some companies might refuse to issue you a policy when you need an SR-22 form.

Getting into an accident without insurance

Although the minimum liability limits are designed to cover the other driver if you cause an accident, most insurance agents and financial advisors will suggest that you purchase higher amounts of coverage than required to offer more sufficient financial protection. Getting into an accident without any insurance 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

    • 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.
    • The average cost of car insurance in Virginia is about $494 annually for minimum liability coverage and $1,439 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.
    • If you have received an insurance inquiry from the DMV, provide proof of insurance immediately to avoid hefty fines, suspension of your driving privileges and insurance rate hikes. The DMV allows drivers to submit proof of insurance online in response to an inquiry letter. To use the form, you will need your vehicle title number and the last four digits of your Vehicle Identification Number (VIN).
    • Car insurance is personal — every driver has their own needs and wants. For instance, some Virginians are on a strict budget, making cheap premiums a must. Others are willing to spend a little extra for a company that offers unique endorsement options or highly-rated online tools. In short, no single carrier can claim to be the best car insurance company in Virginia. However, according to an extensive study conducted by Bankrate’s insurance experts, Geico, State Farm, Travelers, Nationwide and Erie could be great places to start.

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