Is Auto Insurance Not Required in Virginia?
Last Updated on November 19, 2020
At least, that’s what the internet tells you. The truth, however, is more complicated.
Under Virginia law, drivers have two options. Drivers can buy car insurance normally. Or, drivers can pay an uninsured motorist fee.
In this article, we’re explaining everything you need to know about auto insurance requirements in Virginia, including how auto insurance works in Virginia.
Virginia Minimum Insurance Requirements
Under Virginia law, drivers must obtain the minimum required auto insurance coverage, pay an uninsured motorist fee, or take out a $50,000 surety bond with the state.
If you choose to buy car insurance, then that car insurance needs to meet the following minimum requirements:
- $25,000 of bodily injury coverage per person
- $50,000 of bodily injury coverage per accident
- $20,000 of property damage coverage
This basic auto insurance policy may be presented as a 25/50/20 plan. This is called liability coverage. Liability coverage covers damage you inflict on other people and property. It will cover the other driver’s medical bills after an accident you caused, for example, and cover any vehicle repair or replacement costs.
If you obtain the minimum mandated insurance coverage (as stated above), then you will only have liability coverage. You will not have collision coverage or comprehensive coverage. You have no insurance protection for yourself, your family, or your vehicle.
Virginia Uninsured Motorist Fee
Virginia is the only state in America where drivers can legally drive without insurance after paying an uninsured motor vehicle (UMV) fee.
Here’s how the Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles defines its UMV fee:
“The $500 Uninsured Motor Vehicle (UMV) fee, which is paid to the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV), does not provide any insurance; it only allows you to drive an uninsured vehicle at your own risk. It expires with your registration and must be paid at renewal. If you are driving an uninsured vehicle and are involved in an accident, the other driver may notify DMV that your vehicle is uninsured as part of reporting the accident to DMV.”
Drivers in Virginia can legally avoid obtaining any liability insurance simply by paying the state’s $500 uninsured motorist fee.
However, this fee offers drivers no insurance protection whatsoever. This fee simply allows you to drive legally on public roads in Virginia without facing fines or penalties.
If you cause an accident as an uninsured driver in Virginia, then you are personally responsible for any damage to people or property resulting from your negligence. As an insured driver, your insurance would cover these damages. As an uninsured driver, you must pay these damages yourself.
How to Drive Without Insurance in Virginia
Driving without insurance in Virginia is easy. When you register your vehicle with the DMV, you will be asked to prove your insurance coverage. If you do not have insurance, then you will need to pay an uninsured motorist fee of $500 per year to insure your vehicle.
Pros and Cons of Driving Without Insurance in Virginia
Are you debating driving without insurance in Virginia? There are pros and cons of driving without insurance.
Advantages of Not Having Car Insurance
- You could save money over time (assuming you never get into an accident or need to make a claim)
- You avoid shifts in car insurance rates
- Drivers who would normally pay higher insurance rates (like high-risk drivers or drivers with high-value vehicles) can avoid high insurance premiums
Disadvantages of Not Having Car Insurance
- Any money saved by not having car insurance could be wiped out by a single accident
- You are still financially responsible for any damages
- Drivers who are unable to pay for damages after an accident may have their license and registration suspended
FR-44 Policies in Virginia
Some drivers are required to carry car insurance in Virginia. If you were convicted of driving under the influence (DUI), then you may be asked to carry an FR-44 policy for a minimum of three years.
The FR-44 policy is similar to an SR-22 in that it is a special type of insurance with higher required minimums. You must maintain minimum liability insurance limits of $50,000 per person and $100,000 per accident, for example, and $40,000 of property damage liability per person.
FR-44 policies are required in order for high-risk drivers to prove their financial responsibility.
Optional Car Insurance Coverage in Virginia
Liability coverage is optional in Virginia, although many drivers get liability coverage anyway. Other car insurance coverages are completely optional, including:
Physical Damage: Collision and comprehensive coverage cover damage to your own vehicle from accidents and other events. These coverages are optional in every state – including Virginia.
Medical Payments (MedPay): Virginia refers to MedPay as Medical Expense Benefit. It’s an optional car insurance coverage that works similar to health insurance. A standard Virginia auto insurance company offers $500 to $10,000 of Medical Expense Benefit. This coverage can cover medical bills and funeral expenses after an accident.
Lost Income: Virginia’s Insurance Code requires all licensed Virginia insurance companies to offer lost income benefits coverage, which provides up to $100 per week to a total of $5,200 (52 weeks). If you are dependent on a regular income, or if you are the sole income-earner in your household, then you may want to add lost income benefits to your car insurance policy.
Final Word – Do You Need Car Insurance in Virginia?
Technically, drivers in Virginia are not required to buy car insurance. However, uninsured drivers in Virginia must still pay an uninsured motorist fee.
Most drivers in Virginia buy car insurance normally. However, if you would prefer driving without car insurance, then you are allowed to pay an uninsured motorist fee and legally drive without insurance in Virginia.