Washington, D.C. Car Insurance Requirements
The District of Columbia has a lot of interesting and unique requirements due to its legal standing as a government District rather than an incorporated town or city. The unique requirements extend to registering and insuring motor vehicles.
Residents of Washington, D.C. are required to register their vehicles with the District and maintain car insurance at least in the form of minimum liability. Individuals who live outside the District, yet plan to operate their vehicles in Washington for more than 30 consecutive days must apply for a reciprocity permit good for up to 180 days. A reciprocity permit requires the driver to have car insurance that meets District regulations, regardless of the minimum requirements in his home jurisdiction.
A minimum liability policy must include the following coverages to be valid in the District of Columbia:
- property damage liability – $10,000 per accident
- third-party liability – $25,000 per person/$50,000 per accident
- uninsured motorist bodily injury – $25,000 per person/$50,000 per accident
- uninsured motorist property damage – $5,000 per accident
Washington, D.C. is unusual in that they split up liability insurance in this fashion. Yet despite their odd designations, it works nearly identically to most standard liability policies in other states. Insurance pays for injuries or damage you cause in an accident, or injuries and damages you suffer when another driver hits you but doesn’t have insurance of his own.
As long as a vehicle is registered in the District the owner must maintain continuous insurance coverage. Insurance companies will provide proof of insurance via an ID card sent to the driver. That ID card must be presented at the time of vehicle registration as well as at the request of a police officer.
Insurance companies in the District are also required to notify the DMV if a policy lapses or is canceled. In such a case the driver must immediately surrender his plates and registration to the DMV. Failure to do so can result in penalties including fines and suspensions.
Drivers who plan to cancel a policy because they found cheap car insurance elsewhere must provide proof of that new policy to avoid penalties. Insurance violations in the District can result in fines ranging from $150 to $2,500 depending on individual circumstances.
Obtaining Insurance in Washington, D.C.
A car insurance company licensed to do business in the District is allowed to sell policies to Washington drivers. You can search for cheap car insurance online, by contacting an independent agent, or by contacting individual insurance companies directly.