In the Commonwealth of Virginia, all drivers must carry auto insurance. Since 1945, Virginia has provided the “Virginia Automobile Insurance Plan” (VAIP) to its high risk drivers, who have been unable to find auto insurance coverage in the voluntary market. Once you receive coverage through the VAIP, you should focus on improving your driving record, which will make you eligible for insurance in the voluntary market and cheaper insurance rates in Virginia.
What is the Virginia Auto Insurance Plan? (VAIP)
Virginia’s Bureau of Insurance created the VAIP to make automobile insurance available to drivers who have vehicles registered with the Virginia DMV - even those that auto insurance companies don't insure voluntarily. VAIP functions as a “market of last resort,” to assist the remaining high-risk drivers in finding insurers.
VAIP itself is not an insurance company. It’s an organization that randomly assigns drivers to car insurance companies in proportion to the amount of business each insurer writes for the voluntary market in the state. You may not request a specific auto insurance company. Your premium quotes, policy numbers, billing information and claims will all be handled by the insurance company to which you are assigned.
Any company licensed to write auto insurance in Virginia is required to help cover high risk drivers as well. However, the premiums are often higher than those found in the voluntary market.
In Virginia you have to certify on your application that you’ve tried, but failed, to find auto insurance in the voluntary market at least once in the previous 60 days.
Virginia’s Bureau of Insurance recommends that you try several companies, because rates and coverages can vary widely. However, if you have no luck in the voluntary market, you can apply for assignment through VAIP as long as you:
- live in Virginia
- have a car registered (or about to be registered) in Virginia
You may not qualify for insurance through VAIP if:
- you don’t have a valid driver’s license
- you don’t pay your insurance premiums on time
- you don’t present your vehicle for inspection, if you’ve chosen insurance that covers physical damage to your car
As soon as the problem is resolved, you may reapply for insurance.
When you apply for insurance through the VAIP, you must purchase the minimum limits of coverage required by the Virginia Financial Responsibility Law. You can get higher limits, or optional coverage that is not required by law but will further protect your assets. These limits of coverage are shown in the tables below.
|Virginia Minimums and VAIP Limits||Basic Coverages||Higher Limits of Coverage|
|Bodily Injury (BI)||$25,000 per person/$50,000 per accident||$100,000/$300,000|
|Property Damage (PD)||$20,000||$100,000|
|Uninsured Motorist Coverage||$25,000 per person/$50,000 per accident/$20,000 PD||$100,000/$300,000|
If you want higher peace of mind, or have more assets that will be exposed in the event of a lawsuit, you should buy optional coverage, or greater coverage, for a higher premium. Although you'll be paying more for your annual premium, your assets will be more protected in the case of an accident. For more information on how much liability insurance you should get, refer here.
|Optional coverages through VAIP|
|Medical Expense Benefits||Available limits range between $500-2,000|
|Loss of Income||up to $100/week for no more than 52 weeks|
|Physical Damage (Coll; Comp)||Actual Cash Value of your insured car at time of loss, subject to deductibles|
|Transportation Expenses||up to $600|
Virginia allows coverage limits for Collision and “Other Than Collision” to be set by your insurance company. Some insurers may not offer this coverage based on how they assess you as a risk. Others will cover you, but at rates and coverage limits they negotiate with you.
Your designated insurer is required to insure you for a period of 3 years. Each year, you will have the option of renewing your policy with your insurer, which means you only have to remain insured through the VAIP until you’re able to buy auto insurance in the voluntary market. Before renewing your policy with your designated insurer through the VAIP, you should search and compare auto insurance quotes in the voluntary market. If you haven’t been in any new accidents or been convicted of violations, you should have a better chance of finding an insurer in the voluntary market.
After the three year period, your assigned company can either renew your policy voluntarily, or place you back in the “pool”, if you are still considered a high risk driver, and the VAIP will assign you to a new insurer for another 3 year term.
VAIP Premiums and Payments
You'll usually be able to find better auto insurance rates in the regular market than through the VAIP. Based on your driving record and the nature of your eligibility points among other factors, your premium could be a lot more expensive. For some context, premiums in Virginia’s voluntary market are somewhat “middle of the pack” compared to other states, with the average Virginian driver paying $1,114 annually for auto insurance.
The VAIP offers two different payment plans: a Full Annual Premium Payment Option and an Installment Payment Option. Talk with your agent about which payment option will be more suitable for you based on your financial circumstances:
- Full Annual Premium Payment Option - When you apply for coverage through the VAIP, you will have to pay 100% of the premium with your application
- Installment Premium Payment Option: You will have to submit a deposit of 40% of the premium up front, followed by a 30% payment within the first three months of your policy period, and the remaining balance before the end of the first six months of your policy.
When you are insured through the VAIP, it’s wise to check for cheaper insurance as your policy renewal date approaches. If you cancel your old policy in the middle of the policy term, you will be charged an administrative fee to process this change.
How to Get Insurance through the VAIP
Contact any licensed auto insurer in Virginia to inquire about high risk insurance. Be sure to shop around to find the best policy for your situation.
For more information about the VAIP, call the Bureau of Insurance Consumer Hotline: 1-800-552-7945 or visit their web site at https://www.aipso.com/PlanSites/Virginia.aspx.