West Virginia Raises Minimum Compulsory Car Insurance Limits

Beginning January 2016, West Virginia raised its minimum auto insurance requirements from 20/40/10 to 25/50/25. This impacts an estimated 16.5% of drivers in West Virginia, who are believed to have the basic minimum coverage. These drivers' insurance policies are still valid, however. Only newly issued and renewed policies for the minimum mandatory coverage will be immediately impacted.

Beginning January 2016, West Virginia raised its minimum auto insurance requirements from 20/40/10 to 25/50/25. Auto insurance companies in West Virginia must issue new and renewal insurance policies that cover at least $25,000 per person or $50,000 per accident for bodily injuries liability, and $25,000 in liability for property damage in an accident. The same 25/50/25 limits apply to uninsured motorists coverage for bodily injury and property damage, which are also required coverages in West Virginia. The new limits will also take effect on all policies due for renewal in 2016. However, if your insurance policy was purchased in 2015, for the prior minimum limits of 20/40/10, and is not due for renewal till later into 2016, then your policy will still be valid until your renewal time.

If your policy limits were just enough for the former state minimum of 20/40/10, then you may need to brace yourself for a premium increase come renewal time. An Auto Insurance Survey by the WV Insurance Commissioner’s office found that an estimated number of 203,543 registered motor vehicles, or 16.5% of all WV motorists on the road, are only minimally insured in 2014. The new law shall not affect WV drivers who had limits higher or equal to 25/50/25 prior to 2016.

This change has been brewing in West Virginia since the beginning of 2013. Supporters for the increase argue that the old minimum coverage limits were put in place back in 1979, and that the coverage really does not cover today’s medical costs nor vehicle repair costs sufficiently anymore. The first bill for an increase, SB 443, was introduced in 2013, when it passed the Senate Banking and Insurance Committee, and would have raised the limits to 50/100/25 had it not been rejected by the Senate Judiciary Committee. In 2015, HB 2790, sponsored by Delegate Westfall, asked for a more modest increase to 25/50/25. This bill was signed and approved by the Governor on April 1st 2015.

Nevertheless, the raised limits may still not be enough when accidents happen, because motorists are still responsible for any financial liability beyond their insurance limits. Most motorists opt for more coverage and in higher limits than the state’s minimum requirements in West Virginia. Other optional coverages, such as first-party medical coverage (MedPay) or first-party physical damage insurance (Comprehensive and/or Collision coverage) are meant to help drivers pay for their own costs. We always suggest consumers to consider their own financial assets at stake as well as their financial flexibility when choosing appropriate coverage limits as a good practice.

Sources:

Mark Fitzpatrick

Mark Fitzpatrick is a Research Analyst at ValuePenguin focused on the insurance industry. He previously worked in Country Risk Management at State Street Corporation.

Comments and Questions

Editorial Note: The content of this article is based on the author’s opinions and recommendations alone. It has not been previewed, commissioned or otherwise endorsed by any of our network partners.