Auto Insurance Basics

Auto Insurance Requirements in Virginia

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To ensure that all drivers operating in the state are protected, the Virginia Financial Responsibility Law mandates all registered vehicles carry a minimum amount of liability coverage on their auto insurance. You can actually drive uninsured on the road in Virginia, but only when you pay the DMV Uninsured Motor Vehicle fee. This is a unique option available to Virginians, but if you ever get into an accident, you will be on your own to pay all the expenses and charges.

There are two common occasions when you need to show your proof of insurance: when you are pulled over on the road, or when you receive a notice from the DMV’s Insurance Verification Program. Presenting your insurance ID card and/or responding to the program inquiry with your VIN, insurance carrier name, and policy number should suffice.

Virginia Required Car Insurance CoverageVA Required Min. Limits
Bodily Injury (BI) $25,000 per person / $50,000 per accident
Property Damage (PD) $20,000 per accident
Uninsured/Underinsured Motorist BI (UM/UIMBI) $25,000 per person / $50,000 per accident
Uninsured/Underinsured Motorist PD (UM/UIMPD) $20,000 per accident

Virginia Car Insurance Minimum Requirements

A valid Virginia insurance policy will at least include liability insurance (bodily injury and property damage) and uninsured motorist coverage. To satisfy the requirement, you will need the following coverage limits:

Bodily Injury (BI): minimum limits of $25,000 per person and $50,000 for two or more persons per crash. BI pays the other driver's medical bills up to those limits when you cause the accident, as well as the legal fees in a lawsuit. Note that you will find higher limits available in Virginia, up to as much as $1M per accident; varies by insurer.

Property Damage (PD): minimum of $20,000 per crash limit. This covers any property damage you cause in an accident up to the limit you purchase. Standard Virginia insurers will offer higher limits of PD, up to as much as $500,000. The max will depend on the insurer. 

Uninsured / Underinsured Motorist Bodily Injury (UM/UIMBI): minimum limits of 25/50 per accident, but can never be higher than your bodily injury liability limit. UM/UIMBI pays for your medical payments when you are a victim of an uninsured motorist. Think of this coverage as if your insurer is acting in the place of the other driver’s absent insurer. If a driver (whose BI limits are lower than your UM/UIMBI’s) hits you, the difference between these two limits will also be covered.

Uninsured / Underinsured Motorist Property Damage (UM/UIMPD): $20k per accident limit. UM/UIMPD covers the difference between your property damage costs when you are hit by an uninsured driver. You can get higher coverage in Virginia as long as you also raise your PD liability coverage to match it. In the event that an insured driver with lower PD limits than your UM/UIMPD’s causes the accident, you will also be covered for the difference between the two limits. 

Minimum Requirements for FR-44 Policies

There is one circumstance when you will be asked to carry different insurance minimums in Virginia, and that is when you are found driving under the influence (DUI) of alcohol or drugs. You will be asked to carry an FR-44 policy for at least 3 years, which doubles the regular required minimums, and must be filed as your proof of financial responsibility:

  • Bodily Injury (BI): up to $50,000 per person and a total of $100,000 for two or more persons in an accident you cause.
  • Property Damage (PD): up to $40,000 for all property damage per accident you cause.
  • Uninsured / Underinsured Motorist Bodily Injury (UM/UIMBI): for the same limits as the minimum requirement.
  • Uninsured / Underinsured Motorist Property Damage (UM/UIMPD): also for the same limits as the minimum requirement.

Optional Car Insurance Coverage in Virginia

Most government officials and insurance agents will tell you that merely satisfying the required minimum coverage is not enough to protect you. Your liability insurance makes sure that you have money to pay for any bodily injuries and property damage that you cause, and the uninsured motorist ensures you are covered even if the other driver happens to be financially irresponsible. However, there are still other costs that may arise from an accident (such as your lost income when you can’t work) or damage from accidents that is not a car collision. Here are some first-party benefits and physical damage coverage available in Virginia that can help you cover those expenses:

Physical Damage: a physical damage insurance includes Collision and Comprehensive coverages; with these two, most of your vehicle damage, whether from a car crash or other accidents, are covered. The most claim you can make is up to the total cash value of your car. Note that there are deductibles you must pay out-of-pocket before either coverages kick in, and the deductible amount you choose will affect your premium costs.

Medical Payments (MedPay): also referred to as the Medical Expense Benefit in Virginia, MedPay covers you for all of your medical related costs resulting from an accident, regardless of fault. If anyone covered in your policy unfortunately passes away in the crash, MedPay will also cover the funeral expenses. A standard Virginia auto insurer will have limits between $500 and $10,000, varying by insurer. Some motorists may find this coverage somewhat redundant to their health insurance.

Lost Income Benefits: as mandated by Virginia Insurance Code, all VA licensed insurers will offer this coverage, for up to $100 per week to a total of $5,200 (52 weeks). You might consider adding this coverage if you are dependent on a regular income, or are the sole breadwinner in your household. 

Alternative Option to Satisfy Financial Responsibility in Virginia

In Virginia, you have the choice to drive uninsured, but you must pay a fee to the DMV for it. When you register your vehicle for the first time or are renewing your registration, you can pay a $500 Uninsured Motor Vehicle fee. However, note that although this fee satisfies the financial responsibility law, it does not provide the insurance coverage that you will need when you get into an accident.

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