Virginia Car Insurance Requirements
Car insurance in Virginia is a bit different than in most other states. According to Virginia law drivers have one of two options when registering a vehicle:
- they can purchase a car insurance policy which includes minimum liability coverage
- they can pay a $500 fee and register as an uninsured motorist
The latter option means you’d be driving without liability insurance and taking a risk at the same time. If you were in an accident that was deemed your fault, any financial obligations resulting from the accident would be your responsibility. If you didn’t have the money to make good you could have your wages garnished, your physical assets seized, and your bank account frozen. Unless you’re a man or woman of means, registering as an uninsured motorist is probably not a smart idea.
Most drivers in Virginia will choose the liability insurance route. A car insurance policy of this nature protects you from financial loss should you ever cause an accident that injures or kills someone. All car insurance policies in Virginia must offer at least the following minimum coverages:
- property damage liability of $20,000 per accident
- single victim bodily injury and death coverage of $25,000 per accident
- multiple victim bodily injury and death coverage of $50,000 per accident
Virginia Insurance Verification Program
The Virginia Insurance Verification Program is an electronic system set up to monitor car insurance and registration information. Insurance companies are required to keep this information up to date whenever there is a change for an individual driver. Those changes include purchasing a new policy, modifying an existing one, policy cancellation, or allowing insurance to lapse.
If a routine record comparison indicates you might be driving without insurance you’ll receive a notification from the state. You’ll need to follow the directions included in order to avoid fines and penalties.
Maintaining Continuous Coverage
If you choose to purchase liability insurance the law requires you to keep it in force for the entire life of the vehicle’s registration. If you allow it to lapse, or you’re caught driving without insurance, penalties begin with a $500 fine. Certain circumstances may dictate the suspension of your driver’s license, registration, and plates. You’ll have to pay substantial reinstatement fees to get them back.
Finally, you also may be required to file an SR-22 certificate and maintain it with the state for three years. This certificate is an affidavit of sorts stating you have insurance policy and the financial means to continue it for three years. The SR-22 is filed by your insurance company on your behalf. Be warned that it comes with higher insurance premiums.