Virginia Car Insurance Guide

Curious about what car insurance coverages you need to drive in Virginia? Want to know more about insurance laws? Wondering what the state's Uninsured Motor Vehicle fee is all about? This car insurance guide details what you need to know to drive legally in the Commonwealth of Virginia, including car insurance laws, minimum insurance requirements, types of coverages, and more.

Personal Auto Insurance

Auto insurance provides you with some financial protection if you are in a car accident. A personal auto insurance policy is a contract between you and your insurance company. You agree to pay the premium and, in return, your insurance company agrees to help cover your losses, as defined in your policy.

The Commonwealth of Virginia is unique because it gives drivers two options when registering a vehicle: either provide proof of auto insurance that complies with the state's minimum insurance requirements or pay a $500 Uninsured Motor Vehicle fee. Read more under Virginia Uninsured Motor Vehicle Fee.

Virginia Car Insurance Laws

The Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles monitors insurance coverage on all registered vehicles in the state through the Insurance Verification Program. Insurance companies report policy information to the DMV. If the program cannot verify coverage, the vehicle owner will receive an insurance verification inquiry letter with instructions to submit policy information via the Insurance Verification page on the Virginia DMV website.

If you receive an order of suspension from the DMV, you cannot submit policy information online. You must respond by mail or in-person by visiting a Virginia DMV Customer Service Center.

Under Virginia car insurance laws, drivers must carry proof of insurance in all vehicles at all times, either in the form of an ID card or electronically.

Virginia Uninsured Motor Vehicle Fee

The $500 Uninsured Motor Vehicle (UMV) fee allows you to operate an uninsured vehicle at your own risk. It does not provide any insurance coverage.

At the time of vehicle registration, the owner must verify whether the vehicle is insured or uninsured. If the vehicle owner chooses to forgo insurance coverage, they must pay the $500 UMV fee in addition to standard registration fees. The fee expires with your vehicle registration and must be paid during renewal.

The UMV fee does not provide any insurance coverage, so if you are involved in an accident, you remain personally liable. If you haven't paid the UMV fee and are caught driving without insurance, your license and registration will most likely be suspended, and you could be up against additional penalties.

Virginia Minimum Auto Insurance Requirements

Drivers who choose to purchase auto insurance must purchase enough coverage to satisfy the state's minimum car insurance requirements. Virginia financial responsibility law requires drivers to maintain the following minimum coverage limits:

  • $25,000 bodily injury liability coverage to pay for injury or death to any one person per accident
  • $50,000 bodily injury liability coverage to pay for injury or death to any two or more persons per accident
  • $20,000 property damage liability coverage to pay for property damages per accident

Virginia car insurance law requires that every policy include uninsured motorist bodily injury coverage and uninsured motorist property damage coverage equal to the purchased liability coverage limits.

Uninsured motorist coverage (UM) offers financial protection if you're involved in a hit-and-run or an accident caused by a driver who is uninsured or who does not have sufficient insurance coverage to pay for your damages.

UM coverage is automatically included in a Virginia auto insurance policy. However, if you have purchased liability limits higher than the state's minimum requirements, you have the right to purchase UM coverage at limits lower than your liability limits. Opting for reduced UM coverage will lower your auto insurance premium, but it puts you at higher financial risk if you're in an accident with an uninsured or underinsured driver. (Learn more about UM below.)

Please note that these are the minimum requirements for auto insurance in Virginia. Although the minimum amount of coverage is enough to keep you legal, it puts you at greater risk if you're ever in an accident.

Penalties for Driving Without Insurance in Virginia

The Commonwealth of Virginia imposes some pretty severe penalties for driving without insurance. Vehicle registrants who are uninsured and have not paid the $500 UMV fee will have their driving privileges and vehicle registration suspended.

To reinstate driving privileges, drivers are required to:

  • Pay a $600 non-compliance fee
  • File a Financial Responsibility Insurance Certificate (SR-22) with the Virginia DMV for three years
  • Pay a reinstatement fee, if necessary

Virginia Car Insurance Coverages

In Virginia, drivers must carry two types of liability coverage at a minimum: bodily injury liability and property damage liability. You must purchase at least the minimum limits for these coverages to comply with state insurance laws.

Your policy's "limit" is the maximum amount your insurance company will pay for damages in a covered auto accident. Purchasing the minimum amount of auto insurance required to drive in Virginia will save you money on your premium. However, it's important to understand that without adequate car insurance coverage, you could be left with the bills after a car accident, whether or not you caused it. That's why many Virginia drivers increase their liability limits and supplement their protection by purchasing optional coverages.

Bodily Injury Liability Coverage

If you or an insured driver on your policy causes an accident that injures another person, bodily injury liability coverage (BIL) can pay for the other driver's medical costs and your legal expenses. In Virginia, the minimum limits for BIL are $25,000 to cover bodily injury or death to any one person per accident and $50,000 to cover bodily injury or death to any two or more persons per accident.

Property Damage Liability Coverage

Property damage liability coverage (PDL) can pay for property damage you or an insured driver on your policy causes in an accident. PDL can pay for damage to fences, mailboxes, poles, and another person's vehicle. Virginia car insurance laws require drivers to carry at least $20,000 of PDL coverage.

Uninsured Motorist Coverage

If you or an insured driver on your policy is involved in a hit-and-run or an accident with an uninsured or underinsured driver, uninsured motorist coverage (UM) can provide valuable financial protection.

UM comprises two coverages: UM bodily injury coverage and UM property damage coverage. If you are a victim of an uninsured or underinsured driver, UM bodily injury coverage can pay for your medical expenses, and UM property damage coverage can cover your property damage costs.

Virginia drivers are required to carry UM coverage at the same limits as their liability coverage:

  • Uninsured motorist bodily injury: $25,000 per person and $50,000 per accident
  • Uninsured motorist property damage: $20,000 per accident and a $200 deductible for hit-and-run accidents

All auto insurance policies issued in Virginia must include UM coverage at the same minimum amounts as the policy's liability coverage. However, if you have liability limits higher than the minimum financial responsibility requirements, you may choose to purchase lower UM coverage, subject to the state minimum limits. Your election of lower UM limits must be in writing. Forgoing UM coverage will save you money on your auto insurance premium, but it will also leave you more financially responsible in an accident with an uninsured driver. Learn more about UM here.

Virginia SR-22 Insurance

An SR-22 is a certificate your insurance company files with the Virginia DMV, usually electronically, that verifies you have current insurance coverage that satisfies the state's minimum liability requirements. There are several types of convictions that require drivers to file an SR-22 financial responsibility certification, including failure to provide proof of insurance associated with Virginia's Insurance Verification Program.

The minimum SR-22 liability limits in Virginia include:

  • $25,000 bodily injury liability coverage to pay for injury or death to any one person per accident
  • $50,000 bodily injury liability coverage to pay for injury or death to any two or more persons per accident
  • $20,000 property damage liability coverage to pay for property damages per accident

FR-44 Insurance Financial Responsibility Certification

An FR-44 is similar to an SR-22 in that it certifies financial responsibility. However, in Virginia, an FR-44 financial responsibility certification is required for drivers who have been convicted of a DUI/DWI, driving with a suspended license, or other serious infractions.

  • Virginia FR-44 liability limits are double the state's SR-22 liability limits:
  • $50,000 bodily injury liability coverage to pay for injury or death to any one person per accident
  • $100,000 bodily injury liability coverage to pay for injury or death to any two or more persons per accident
  • $40,000 property damage liability coverage to pay for property damages per accident

High-Risk Auto Insurance

Some auto insurance companies determine drivers "high risk" if they have a history of auto accidents, received multiple traffic citations, or been required to file an SR-22 or FR-44. It can be difficult to get insured as a high-risk driver. Fortunately, high-risk auto insurance (or non-standard insurance) can provide the financial protection you need to drive legally.

How to Find Affordable Car Insurance in Virginia

Many factors determine auto insurance rates, from personal information about the driver to vehicle type. Here's a sample of a few factors that can influence how much you pay for car insurance:

  • Years of driving experience
  • Driving record
  • Claims history
  • ZIP code
  • Type of vehicle

How much coverage you choose

Direct Auto offers affordable auto insurance to drivers in Virginia. We also offer flexible payment options that allow you to choose your down payment amount, monthly payment amount, and payment due date, plus discounts to help Virginia drivers save even more, including:

  • Autopay discount
  • Paperless discount
  • Senior driver accident prevention course discount
  • Multi-car discount
  • SmartDrive participation discount

Commercial Auto Insurance in Virginia

Under Virginia law, all business-owned vehicles must be covered by commercial auto insurance. If you're a small business owner or are self-employed and use your car to perform work-related activities other than commuting, you may qualify for a commercial auto insurance policy.

Virginia Minimum Commercial Auto Insurance Requirements

How much commercial auto insurance do you need in Virginia? The amount of coverage you need depends on a variety of factors, including the size, type, and weight of the vehicle, who drives the vehicle, and whether it carries passengers.

Most small business owners aren't operating heavy trucks or carrying passengers. As such, the minimum commercial car insurance requirements for "light" vehicles like sedans and pickup trucks are often the same as the minimum insurance requirements for personal vehicles:

  • $25,000 bodily injury liability coverage to pay for injury or death to any one person per accident
  • $50,000 bodily injury liability coverage to pay for injury or death to any two or more persons per accident
  • $20,000 property damage liability coverage to pay for property damages per accident

Common Commercial Auto Insurance Coverages

There are several types of optional commercial auto insurance coverages that allow small business owners to customize a policy based on their unique needs. Direct Auto offers a variety of commercial car insurance coverages, including:

  • Personal injury protection
  • Medical payments coverage
  • Towing and labor reimbursement coverage
  • Fire and theft with combined additional coverage
  • Hired auto and employer's non-ownership liability coverage

Direct Auto offers competitively priced commercial auto insurance policies, plus flexible payment options and money-saving discounts.** To learn more about commercial auto insurance or get a free quote, visit a Virginia Direct Auto location near you or call 1-877-GO-DIRECT (1-877-463-4732).

Read more about commercial auto insurance here.

Virginia Motorcycle Insurance Laws

Motorcyclists in Virginia must maintain a minimum amount of insurance coverage to drive legally. Virginia's minimum motorcycle insurance requirements include:

  • $25,000 bodily injury liability coverage to pay for injury or death to any one person per accident
  • $50,000 bodily injury liability coverage to pay for injury or death to any two or more persons per accident
  • $20,000 property damage liability coverage to pay for property damages per accident

Insurance companies are legally required to offer uninsured motorist coverage at the same limits as liability coverage. UM coverage is standard on Virginia auto insurance policies unless you have liability limits higher than the minimum requirements. In this case, you may reject the additional UM coverage in writing.

At Direct Auto, passenger liability coverage is automatically included in Virginia motorcycle policies. Passenger liability, also known as guest bodily injury coverage, is included at limits equal to the amount of BIL selected. Never assume your insurance automatically covers your passengers without reading your policy and verifying your coverage with your insurance company.

Wearing safety gear and practicing safe driving techniques are non-negotiable when riding a motorcycle. Read our motorcycle safety tips to learn more.

More Information

To get a free quote on auto insurance or learn more about Virginia car insurance laws and coverages, contact us online, call 1-877-GO-DIRECT (1-877-463-4732), or meet with a friendly, helpful agent at a Virginia Direct location near you.

*Rates and savings vary. **Commercial auto and motorcycle insurance produced by Direct Auto Insurance agents for related and unrelated carriers. Availability, qualifications, rates, terms and conditions vary by state. Pay plans, discounts and coverages subject to terms and conditions.

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