Can You Drive in Virginia Without Insurance?
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In most states, it’s illegal to drive without car insurance. Car insurance doesn’t just protect you. It also covers others left with costly car repair and medical bills if you cause a car accident. While state minimum requirements for car insurance vary, in most cases, you must have a policy with a set minimum.
That is, unless you live in Virginia. If you’re a current or future Virginia resident, it’s important to be aware that laws around car insurance are different. Virginia gives drivers more options when it comes to insurance, and that could help you to save money. Can you drive in Virginia without insurance? Yes. Now, whether it’s the best way to protect yourself or not is up to you to decide.
How Much Insurance Do I Need in Virginia?
To register your vehicle in Virginia, you will need to either prove that your vehicle meets the state’s minimum insurance requirements or pay the state’s Uninsured Motor Vehicle Fee. Virginia requires the following minimum insurance coverage:
- Bodily injury of at least $30,000 per person and $60,000 per accident
- Property damage of at least $20,000 per accident
- Uninsured motorist bodily injury of at least $30,000 per person and $60,000 per accident
- Uninsured motorist property damage of at least $20,000 per accident
Keep in mind these are only the state’s minimum insurance requirements. It’s typically a good idea to go beyond the state minimum. That’s because it doesn’t protect your vehicle at all, just the person you’re in an accident with.
When shopping for insurance, it’s helpful to compare quotes to find the best policy. Our online auto insurance comparison tool makes it easy. You can fill out a single quote request form, which takes just five minutes. Then we’ll receive personalized quotes from up to 65 different insurance providers and present you with the best options for your budget and insurance needs.
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What is the Virginia Uninsured Motor Vehicle Fee?
If you don’t want to insure your vehicle, Virginia will allow you to pay the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) an Uninsured Motor Vehicle Fee instead. This fee allows you to still register your vehicle without having to provide proof of insurance. The fee is $500 per year, and it doesn’t provide you with any insurance coverage.
That means if you’re in an accident, there’s no insurance policy protecting you or the other person involved in an accident. The only thing paying this fee does is keep you from getting in trouble for charged for driving without insurance.
Going this route can be costly and financially devastating if you have to repair your vehicle or face medical costs. The same is true if you’re in an accident and found liable leading to you having to pay the other party’s bills.
Penalties for Driving Without Insurance in Virginia
If you drive without insurance in Virginia but don’t pay the Uninsured Motor Vehicle Fee, you can face stiff penalties. If you lie to the DMV and state that your vehicle has insurance, they can suspend your driver’s license and registration. To get your license and registration reinstated, you will need to pay a $600 noncompliance fee, as well as a $145 reinstatement fee.
You will also need to file a proof of insurance and financial responsibility form, the SR-22 form, for the next three years. During that three-year period, your insurance company will notify the DMV if you cancel your policy.
If you’re caught driving without insurance, the penalty will cost you more than paying the $500 Uninsured Motor Vehicle Fee or getting a low cost state minimum insurance policy would.
You will also need to deal with the logistics of getting your license and registration reinstated. When you do apply for car insurance, insurance providers might view you as a higher risk driver because you already broke the law by driving uninsured.
As a result, your insurance rates will be higher. It’s a much better idea to stay compliant with state laws than to risk getting caught.
How to Avoid Paying Penalties in Virginia
It’s easy to avoid paying a penalty for not having car insurance in Virginia. You will either need to maintain car insurance that meets the state minimum requirements, or agree to pay the annual Uninsured Motor Vehicle Fee.
What Happens if You Get Into a Car Accident Without Insurance in Virginia?
If you are at fault for a car accident without insurance in Virginia and you haven’t paid the Uninsured Motor Vehicle Fee, you can face penalties, including fines. The DMV and courts can revoke your driver’s license and registration, and you will be personally responsible for all of the expenses resulting from the accident.
If you are at fault for an accident but you are legally driving without insurance, you will still face significant financial responsibility. According to the National Safety Council, the average economic cost of a car accident involving only property damage is $4,700 per vehicle. When injuries occur, the average cost of the accident jumps to $29,200. Expenses like medical bills and vehicle repair and replacement costs can easily reach into the hundreds of thousands of dollars. If you cause the accident, you might be responsible for all of those expenses.
If you can’t pay for the expenses out of pocket, the other driver might take you to court. When that occurs, you will need to pay for legal fees in addition to the expenses you’re responsible for. A judge might require you to pay using your personal assets, like second vehicles, your home, a boat, and other items of value. Even a simple fender bender can get surprisingly expensive, so it’s important to consider if you can really risk driving without insurance.
What Happens if Someone Without Auto Insurance hits You in Virginia?
If the at-fault driver who hits you doesn’t have insurance, you may need to explore several options. The driver will be responsible for your medical bills, vehicle repair costs, and other resulting expenses, but in many scenarios, drivers without insurance also tend to have a low net worth and may not be able to pay for these expenses.
You might consult with a lawyer and see whether it’s worth taking the driver to court. In this situation, you will need to be able to pay for any legal fees, and if the driver is ultimately unable to pay for your expenses, you might not gain financially from pursuing the matter in court.
If you have uninsured and underinsured motorist protection on your own policy, you can file a claim with your car insurance provider, who should cover the costs of the accident. This is an excellent example of why it’s beneficial to have this type of coverage. If you don’t and are unable to recoup your expenses from the other driver, you may be responsible for paying those bills out of pocket.
Why it’s Better to Pay for Auto Insurance
If you live in Virginia and are considering opting out of car insurance to pay the Uninsured Motor Vehicle Fee, think carefully about whether that decision makes sense. In many ways, it’s simply better and easier to secure an auto insurance policy.
It Costs About the Same
If you shop around for insurance policies that meet Virginia’s required minimums, you will probably find that you won’t pay much more than the $500 annual Uninsured Motor Vehicle Fee. Keep in mind you will need to pay that fee for each vehicle that you register, but if you insure multiple vehicles, you may be eligible for a multi-vehicle discount that can keep your costs down.
The Uninsured Motor Vehicle Fee doesn’t give you anything but the ability to drive your car without insurance. But, if you buy an insurance policy, your policy will kick in to cover all or part of the costs of your accident.
Protection Against More Than Just Accidents
When you think of car insurance, you probably think about how it helps after a car accident, but certain insurance policies give you much more coverage. For example, comprehensive insurance can help to pay for expenses that result from other situations, like a fire, a tree falling on your car, a floor, or even vehicle theft and \ vandalism.
If you don’t have a lot of money saved up to repair or replace your vehicle in these types of situations, or if you just want to avoid paying for that major expense, then getting car insurance can be a sound investment.
Protection Against Other Drivers
Since Virginia allows drivers to opt out of insuring their vehicles, there’s a greater chance that you could be in an accident with another uninsured motorist. If that other driver was at fault but uninsured, they might not be able to pay for all of your expenses that result from the accident.
When you take out uninsured and underinsured motorist coverage, you’re protecting yourself from this very scenario. This type of insurance helps to prevent a situation where you’re left with a vehicle you can’t replace or medical expenses you can’t pay, all because you were hit by an uninsured driver.
Increased Peace of Mind
Knowing that your vehicle is insured can give you greater peace of mind when you’re on the road. If you don’t have significant savings, your car insurance can help to prevent you from being responsible for expenses resulting from an accident. Even if you do have lots of money saved up, insurance can help to keep you from having to spend that money on accident-related bills.
Having comprehensive auto insurance can also make it easier to navigate an auto accident. Accidents are stressful, and if anyone in your family is injured, you want to be able to focus on getting them the medical care they need, not worrying about paying any resulting medical bills. When you have insurance, you can focus on what really matters. While the situation may still be stressful, you won’t have the added stress of worrying about how you will pay for all of the bills.
Keep in mind you need coverage beyond the state minimum if you want your vehicle or medical bills to be covered after an accident.
How to Find the Best Deal on Car Insurance in Virginia
Car insurance doesn’t have to be expensive. There are many ways that you can save on your policy costs and find affordable coverage.
Carefully choose your vehicle
The type of vehicle that you drive affects your insurance rates. Newer cars and models that are more expensive will also cost more to repair and replace, meaning the insurer is taking on additional risk by insuring these vehicles. That additional risk is passed onto you in the form of higher premiums.
Instead of buying a brand-new car, consider getting a used vehicle that’s more affordable. If you’re set on getting a brand-new vehicle, look for models that are more affordable to save money on insurance.
Determine how much coverage you need
While it’s always best to take out a policy with the highest limits that you can afford, taking out a policy that only meets your state’s limits will still help to protect you. You might use insurance calculators to see how different limits affect your policy costs, then choose the highest limit that you can reasonably afford.
Learn More: Choosing how much coverage you need
Consider Increasing Your Deductible
If you increase your policy’s deductible, you will pay lower monthly rates, which can make your policy more affordable. Keep in mind if you decide to use this strategy, you need enough money saved to pay your deductible out of pocket. You will need to pay the deductible before your insurance policy pays for expenses, so only increase the deductible to an amount that you can promptly pay.
Work on Improving Your Credit
Many insurance providers consider drivers with low credit ratings to be high-risk drivers, resulting in greater premiums. If your credit isn’t stellar, focus on ways to improve it.
You can build good credit by making all of your payments on time, and by never missing a payment. Consider setting up automatic payments to help with this.
Your credit report also provides information about how much of your credit you’re using. Try to keep your utilization rate for your credit cards under 30%, which can boost your score.
If you’re considering closing out old accounts – don’t. Having accounts for an extended period is beneficial. You can keep them open even if you choose to cut up your card so you don’t use it.
Bundle your Car Insurance With Other Policies
If you have a homeowner’s or renter’s insurance policy, you may be able to bundle it with your car insurance for a multi-policy discount. Bundling your policies not only results in savings, but it can also be easier than dealing with multiple insurance companies.
Ask About Additional Discounts
As you shop for car insurance, ask the company about any available discounts you are eligible for. Many insurers offer a wide range of discounts for everything from taking a safe driver course to signing up for paperless billing to paying your premium in full. When you’re able to take advantage of multiple discounts, they can add up to big savings.
Shop Around for the Lowest Rates
Taking the time to shop around for insurance can save you a lot of money. At Compare.com makes that easy. Use our auto insurance comparison tool to quickly get quotes from top insurance providers. We help drivers save an average of $720 per year on car insurance.
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Does a car have to be insured if it is not being driven?
No. Regardless of what state you are in, a car that isn’t being driven doesn’t need to be insured. You’ll need to cancel the vehicle’s registration, and you can’t drive it until it’s covered again.
Is auto insurance required by law in all 50 states?
No, in addition to Virginia, New Hampshire does not require vehicles to be insured. Both states offer drivers the option to opt out of insuring their vehicles. Minimum insurance requirements also vary from state to state.
How can I get an SR-22 form?
If you are required to file an SR-22 form, you can request one from your insurance provider. Most insurance companies will charge a filing fee, often between $15 and $25. You may also see an increase in your insurance rates because your insurance company classifies you as a high-risk driver. Some insurance companies won’t offer SR-22 coverage. In this case you need to shop around to find a policy that’s right for you.
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