Auto Insurance Requirements in Washington D.C.

Auto Insurance Requirements in Washington D.C.

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According to law in the District of Columbia, all drivers must carry a valid auto insurance policy before registering for a reciprocity sticker. When you get to the DMV, they'll ask for a copy of your insurance policy, your insurance card or a certification letter on the insurance company's letterhead as proof of insurance. You'll also need to show this proof if a police officer pulls you over for a traffic violation.

In D.C., drivers have "no-fault" insurance, which means your insurer will cover your medical bills following an accident — regardless of who's at fault.

Washington, D.C., minimum car insurance requirements

A basic insurance policy in D.C. will include liability auto insurance (for bodily injuries and property damage) and uninsured motorist coverage with the following limits:

District of Columbia required car insurance coverage

DC 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

Bodily injury (BI): If you cause 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 also pay for their lost wages. And if the other party seeks legal action, then your BI will pay for your legal fees or any judgments, up to your policy's limit.

Limits start at $25,000 per person and $50,000 per accident, but you can raise your limits to $100,000 per person and $300,000 per accident.

Property damage (PD): D.C. drivers must purchase PD liability coverage, which pays to repair property following an accident you cause, up to your policy limits.

Limits start at $10,000, but most drivers opt for higher limits of $50,000.

Uninsured motorists (UMI): Uninsured motorist coverage pays for your own medical expenses and property repairs if you're in an accident with a driver who does not have auto insurance. Drivers must carry uninsured motorist coverage for both bodily injuries and property damage, but underinsured motorist coverage is not required in D.C.

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.

Optional car insurance coverage in Washington, D.C.

Although certain insurance options aren't required, they can help protect your assets following an accident or other type of incident. Most Washington, D.C., drivers, for example, purchase additional physical damage coverage.

Physical damage: This type of insurance includes collision and comprehensive coverage. Collision coverage pays to repair your own car following an accident, while comprehensive coverage pays for damage that results from just about any other incident.

D.C. drivers commonly purchase deductibles of $500 for collision coverage and $100 for comprehensive coverage.

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 follow the law, but drivers have one alternative option.

Drivers with more than 25 vehicles registered in their name could qualify as 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.

Mark is a Senior Research Analyst for ValuePenguin focusing on the insurance industry, primarily auto insurance. He previously worked in financial risk management at State Street Corporation.

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