Auto Insurance Basics

Auto Insurance Requirements in Washington D.C.

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Washington D.C. is a no-fault insurance state, which means that insurers will pay for the insured’s medical expenses after an accident, regardless of his or her liability. According to D.C.’s Compulsory/No-Fault Motor Vehicle Insurance Act, every D.C. resident applying for registration of a reciprocity sticker must show proof of valid auto insurance. 

The DMV will accept a copy of your insurance policy, your insurance card, or a certification letter on insurance company letterhead as proof of insurance. You also must prove that you have insurance to police officers during a traffic stop or after an accident - your insurance ID card will suffice.

District of Columbia Required Car Insurance CoverageDC Required Min. Limits
Bodily Injury (BI) $25,000 per person / $50,000 per accident
Property Damage (PD) $10,000 per accident
Uninsured Motorist Bodily Injury (UMIBI) $25,000 per person / $50,000 per accident
Uninsured Motorist Property Damage (UMIPD) $5,000 per accident; $200 deductible

Washington D.C. Car Insurance Requirements & Minimum

Drivers can comply with the D.C.’s Compulsory/No-Fault Motor Vehicle Insurance Act by purchasing liability auto insurance with Bodily Injury Liability coverage, Property Damage Liability coverage, and Uninsured Motorist coverage with the following limits:

Bodily Injury (BI): If you are liable for an accident, BI coverage will pay for the medical expenses of any injured passengers in the other vehicle. If the injured passengers are unable to continue work, your BI coverage will pay for their lost wages. Additionally, if they seek legal action against you, BI will pay for your legal fees or any judgments against you, up to your policy’s limit. D.C. drivers are required to purchase BI limits of at least $25,000 per person and $50,000 for two or more people in a given accident. Higher limits of BI of $100,000 per person and $300,000 per accident are common.

Property Damage (PD): D.C. drivers must purchase PD liability coverage of $10,000, but most drivers opt for higher PD limits of $50,000. If you are liable for an accident that resulted in damage on another person’s property or to another car, your PD coverage steps in to cover the cost of repairs. For example if you crash into the store window of a business, your PD coverage will pay for any repairs to the property up to your coverage limit.

Uninsured Motorists (UMI): Uninsured motorists protection pays for medical expenses and repairs to property damage if you are in an accident with a driver who does not have auto insurance. D.C. Law requires that drivers carry uninsured motorist coverage for both BI liability and PD liability. Your UMI coverage will pay for the medical costs of your personal injuries, as well as the injuries of any passengers in your car, and repairs to your car or other property damaged as a result of the accident, regardless of your liability. Drivers are required to purchase UMI BI liability of $25,000 per person and $50,000 per accident, and UMI PD liability of $5,000 subject to a $200 deductible. Underinsured Motorist coverage is not required for D.C. drivers. 

Optional Car Insurance Coverage in Washington D.C.

Optional coverage is protection that is not required by Washington D.C., but is recommended for those interested in safely protecting their assets. Most Washington D.C. drivers, for example, purchase additional physical damage coverage.

Physical Damage: Collision and Comprehensive are the two coverages that make up physical damage protection. D.C. drivers commonly purchase deductibles of $500 for collision coverage and $100 for comprehensive coverage. Together, collision and comprehensive coverage will pay for most repairs regardless of your liability. Collision coverage pays for repairs for damages resulting from an accident, while comprehensive coverage pays for damages resulting from any other incident. 

Alternative Proof of Financial Responsibility

In order to register your vehicle at the Department of Motor Vehicles in D.C., you must show proof of financial responsibility. Most D.C. drivers choose to purchase liability auto insurance to show proof of financial responsibility, but there is an alternative option for drivers.

Drivers with more than 25 vehicles registered in their name could qualify as a self-insurer. To become a self-insurer, you must agree to pay the same amounts that an insurer would be obligated to pay if it had issued you a policy. Upon agreeing on the terms of payment, you will be issued a Certificate of Self-Insurance from the Mayor. 

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