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Published: April 6, 2022Last updated: October 20, 2022

Guide to Car Insurance in Vermont

Vermont law says that it is illegal to operate a vehicle without a minimum amount of liability insurance.

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Vermont law says that it is illegal to operate a vehicle without a minimum amount of liability insurance.

There are more than 564,000 drivers in Vermont and nearly 30,000 miles of roads. Every driver in the state must meet minimum insurance requirements when operating a vehicle. The insurance covers damages to people or property that drivers might hit.

Fortunately, auto insurance in Vermont is not as expensive as in other parts of the country. The national average is just over $1,070 a year; Vermont’s average is $785 annually. Lower costs mean that more people can get higher coverage limits to protect all parties involved in accidents. Here’s what you need to know about Vermont’s insurance requirements and driving laws.

Minimum Requirements for Car Insurance

Vermont requires car insurance as part of its financial responsibility law, with minimum insurance amounts starting at $25,000 for bodily injury per person, $50,000 in bodily injury per accident, and $10,000 in property damage liability.

Vermont also requires motorists to have uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage of at least $50,000 of bodily injury per person and $100,000 of bodily injury per accident. The Insurance Research Council estimates that 9 percent of drivers in Vermont don’t have auto insurance, so there is a real risk of being hit by another party that doesn’t have coverage.1

CheckNOTE

It is your responsibility as a driver to make sure the car you drive has adequate and valid insurance while on the road. Borrowing a car is not an excuse to neglect the state’s financial responsibility obligation.

How Much Coverage Do I Need?

Minimum coverage requirements state how much coverage you need to comply with the law. Sometimes you may need more than the minimum coverage. For example, when you lease a car, you’re required to get a minimum of $100,000 in bodily injury per person, $300,000 in bodily injury per accident, and $50,000 in property damage.

Also, when you have more assets, you might become a target for lawsuits if you don’t have enough coverage. If you’re well off, you might want liability limits as high as $250,000 in per-person bodily injury, $500,000 in per-accident bodily injury, and $100,000 in property damage.

In addition to higher liability limits, consider options that provide full coverage. Full coverage means protecting your vehicle from damage as well as protecting you and your passengers from injury. Full coverage includes comprehensive coverage, collision coverage and medical payments coverage, along with liability coverage.

Comprehensive coverage pays for damage and losses of your car due to natural disasters, theft or other incidents aside from collisions. It includes coverage for something like a tree branch or hail falling on your vehicle.

Collision coverage pays to fix your car if you hit something. The limits of both of these coverages are the fair market value of your vehicle. Medical payments coverage pays the bills to treat injuries to you and your passengers if you are at fault in an accident.

Weigh other optional coverages on top of the full coverage that you get. You may also want to consider getting rental car coverage, which pays for a rental car while your car is in the shop being repaired under a covered claim, as well as emergency roadside service and death benefits. All of these coverages are optional, but make life easier in an emergency situation.

The Average Cost of Car Insurance in Vermont

Vermont’s average auto insurance rate is 36 percent less expensive than the national average, based on a study by the National Association of Insurance Commissioners.2 Vermont residents pay only $785.37 on average for their annual auto insurance premium, where the national average is $1,070.47.

We looked at car insurance rates around the industry and found that Vermont drivers can pay as little as $292 for a policy, or upward of $1,200 annually for young drivers. Car insurance rates depend on your driving history, the car you drive, and how far you travel each year, among other factors. For example, car insurance is cheaper if you have a clean driving record, and more expensive if you have a DUI or full-coverage car insurance.

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Your annual driving distance contributes to your rate. If you can, limit your driving to under 7,500 miles per year to keep your rates as low as possible.

Providers in Vermont

Drivers can get insurance from a wide range of insurance carriers in Vermont, including these companies:

  • Allstate
  • Concord
  • GEICO
  • Nationwide
  • Progressive
  • State Farm
  • USAA
  • Vermont Mutual

Learn how to find the cheapest company for car insurance.

How to Lower Premiums in Vermont

Here are some common ways to reduce your auto insurance premium:

  1. Ask about discounts. Each carrier offers its own discounts. Common discounts include ones for being a good student, bundling your policy with home insurance, driving safely, and being claims-free.
  2. Adjust your deductible. By raising your deductible, you take on more financial responsibility in an accident. Insurance companies reward this by reducing the premium.
  3. Lower your coverage. If you reduce liability limits and eliminate optional coverage, you’ll also reduce your premiums.

Proof of Car Insurance in Vermont

It’s essential to show proof of insurance when an officer stops you or when you’re in a traffic accident. Your proof of insurance is either a printed insurance card or a digital download available through a smartphone app.

If you cannot provide proof of insurance, an officer may assess you for a ticket of up to $500. This ticket counts as a traffic violation and will add a point to your driving record, potentially increasing your insurance rates. Your license will be suspended, and you’ll have to show proof of insurance to get it reinstated. The same penalties apply to second and third offenses.3

Vermont State Laws

Here is a review of the most important Vermont driving laws you need to know.

At-Fault State

In Vermont, the driver at fault in an accident is responsible for paying injury and property damage claims of the people and object(s) struck. Because Vermont is a modified comparative negligence state, a plaintiff cannot recover losses if they have an equal or greater responsibility in the accident than the defendant. To recover losses, they must be less than 50 percent at fault in an accident.

Uninsured Motorist Coverage

Vermont drivers must have uninsured motorist coverage. The minimum coverage is $50,000 in per-person injury with $100,000 in per-accident injury. You can add more coverage if you wish.

Vermont allows drivers to stack uninsured motorist coverage. When you stack coverage, you combine the uninsured motorist coverage from multiple policies within your household. Combining coverage gives you higher coverage limits and protects you in more serious accidents.

Let’s say you have two cars, each with a minimum of $50,000 and $100,000 in uninsured motorist limits. If there is an accident, you get the sum of both uninsured motorist coverage policies, or $100,000 and $200,000 in coverage per person and per accident, respectively.

Vermont DUI Laws

Vermont has strict laws around driving under the influence. If your blood alcohol content is at least 0.16 percent when a police officer stops you, you’ll get a DUI conviction. The DUI will stay on your record for as long as you have a Vermont license, and your license will be suspended for 90 days.

The penalty for a DUI is up to $750 for the first offense, with up to two years in prison. The penalty for a second offense is a fine of up to $1,500 with another possible two years in prison.

You will need to use an ignition interlock for six months after your first offense, 18 months after the second, and three years after the third. If the state convicts you of a fourth DUI, it will suspend your license permanently.

Seat Belt Laws

Vermont requires all occupants of a car to wear seat belts. If you are under the age of 18 and found without a belt on, that is a primary offense and the officer can ticket you without needing another traffic violation to stop you. If you are over 18, seat belt laws are a secondary offense, meaning the officer can’t ticket you for a seat belt infraction alone.

Each person not wearing a seat belt in the car can get a ticket. The fine for the first violation is $25, the second is $50, and the third and any subsequent violations are $100.

Distracted Driving Laws in Vermont

You can get a ticket if an officer catches you driving while distracted. There is a ban on handheld devices for all drivers. The ban also specifically forbids texting and driving.

Distracted driving is a primary offense; the first offense can cost $100 to $200, and the second within two years ranges from $250 to $500. A distracted driving ticket will put two points on your driving record and increase your insurance rates.

Teen Driving Laws

Drivers under the age of 18 are subject to the rules of Vermont’s Graduated License laws. These laws state that a person who is 15 or older can operate a motor vehicle as long as they hold a learner’s permit and have one of the following licensed and unimpaired drivers with them:

  • A parent or guardian
  • A driver education instructor
  • An individual at least 25 years old

A teen driver must have a learner’s permit for at least one year before obtaining a junior driver’s license. A teen with a junior driver’s license cannot operate a vehicle for employment for at least one year or until they reach age 18. During the first three months of having a junior driver’s license, the driver must drive alone or with one of the individuals listed above. No one with a junior driver’s license can carry a passenger for hire.4

Statute of Limitations for Claims

There is a statute of limitations for claims in Vermont. Drivers have three years to file property claims or bodily injury claims resulting from an accident. If they file a claim after the statute of limitations passes, the insurance company will not accept their claim.5

Cancellation/Non-Renewal Notification Laws

An insurance company can cancel your policy or not renew it for various reasons, including failure to pay premiums and fraud. While an insurance company cannot cancel you for a high number of claims after the first 30 days of the policy, it can choose not to renew the policy at the end of the term for a high claims volume.

If an insurance carrier chooses to cancel or not renew your policy due to failure to pay, it must give you at least 15 days’ notice. For other midterm cancellations and non-renewals, the company must give you 45 days’ written notice so that you have enough time to get coverage elsewhere.

Self-Insurance

Vermont allows you to self-insure a car by filing a bond of $115,000 with the Commissioner of Motor Vehicles. You must maintain this bond for the duration of the car registration or until you obtain other insurance.6

Car Inspection Requirements

Vermont requires every owner to have their registered vehicle pass a state-approved inspection once a year. Inspection stations might be gas stations or mechanics shops. Newly registered vehicles not inspected in the state must get an inspection within 15 days of registration. The inspection site completes the inspections, provides you with a proof-of-inspection sticker, and files the completed inspection with the state.

SR-22s

An SR-22 is a financial responsibility insurance certificate confirming with the state that serious traffic violation offenders are adhering to the state’s insurance requirements. Serious traffic violations include DUIs and reckless driving citations. In Vermont, drivers who need SR-22s must obtain them for three years after the offense.

Defensive Driving

A defensive driver course teaches drivers how to avoid hazards and remain safe. You can complete courses online or in person. Vermont doesn’t list the instances that require you to take a course, however.

Some insurance carriers offer discounts if you complete a defensive driver course. See if your insurance company offers a discount or provides a list of approved courses.

Serious Injury and Monetary Thresholds

There is no monetary threshold to sue someone in Vermont. If you are injured in an accident, you have the right to sue the other party regardless of the injury’s value or severity.

Accident Reporting Requirements

Vermont requires you to file a police report if you are in an accident with injuries or property damage valued at $3,000 or more. You have three days to file the report or you could be fined. The Vermont Department of Motor Vehicles does not say how much the fine will be.

Price Discrimination

Vermont drivers buying auto insurance must provide carriers with their Social Security numbers. Carriers run credit scores to help determine insurance scores; credit scores allow them to estimate how likely someone is to file a claim. Insurance prices may also vary based on sex. Carriers consider men higher risk, so men pay more for auto insurance in Vermont, as do people with poor credit scores.

When Is a Car Declared a Total Loss?

Every Vermont insurance carrier must use a total-loss formula to determine whether a damaged vehicle is repairable. The car is totaled if its salvage value is less than the repair cost.

Contact Information

See below for pertinent contact information in Vermont.

Department of Motor Vehicles

You can contact your local Department of Motor Vehicles online, over the phone, or by mail. Then you can perform tasks such as registering your car, getting a license, filing an SR-22, and getting a copy of your car title.

  1. When registering a vehicle for the first time, visit your local DMV with the following items:
    • Vehicle title
    • Odometer reading
    • Payment based on your vehicle make, model, and year
    • Proof of insurance
    • Form VD-119, which you can fill out beforehand to save time (https://dmv.vermont.gov/sites/dmv/files/documents/VD-119-Vehicle_Registration_Tax_Title.pdf)

    You can find your local DMV at https://dmv.vermont.gov/locations.

  2. When renewing your registration, sign the registration renewal notice you received in the mail.
  3. Send a check or money order for the renewal amount:
Type of vehicle Renewal period Gas or diesel Electric Other types of fuel
Auto (car) 1 year $76 $74 $132
Auto (car) 2 years $140 $136 $242
  1. Send the renewal notice and fee to the DMV using one of the following contact methods.
    • URL: https://dmv.vermont.gov/locations
    • Phone: 888-970-0357
    • Mailing address:
      • Vermont DMV
        120 State St.
        Montpelier, VT 05603

Get a copy of your car title in Vermont by completing the following steps:

  1. Print and fill out the duplicate title application (https://dmv.vermont.gov/sites/dmv/files/documents/VT-004-Replacement_Title.pdf).
  2. Pay the $22 fee.
  3. File at your local DMV office or mail the form (along with the payment) to the DMV.
    URL: https://dmv.vermont.gov/locations
    Mailing address:

    • Vermont DMV
      120 State St.
      Montpelier, VT 05603

Insurance Commissioner

You can contact Vermont’s insurance commissioner with questions or concerns about your insurance carrier.

  • URL: https://dfr.vermont.gov/industry/insurance
  • Phone: 802-828-3301
  • Mailing address:
    • 89 Main St.
      Drawer 20
      Montpelier, VT 05620-3101

Cost of Car Repairs in Vermont

Car repairs in Vermont are 12 percent the national average of $383.37 and cost an average of $342.14. This total includes parts and labor.7

Crime and Fatalities in Vermont

The rate of auto thefts and fatalities resulting from traffic accidents in Vermont falls well below the national averages.

Motor Vehicle Theft

Vermont auto thefts are below the national average. The national average is 246 stolen vehicles per 100,000 residents, whereas Vermont only has 42 stolen vehicles per 100,000 residents. This statistic is 480 percent below the national average.8

The area in Vermont known for the most auto thefts is Burlington (including South Burlington), with 84 thefts per 100,000 residents, twice the rate of the rest of the state.9

Motor Vehicle Fatalities

The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety tracks traffic fatalities based on deaths per 100 million vehicle miles driven. The national average is 708, while Vermont is only 47; that’s 1,406 percent less than the national average.10

Recap

Based on fatality statistics, Vermont is a safe place to drive. However, make sure that you comply with the state’s insurance liability law and purchase enough coverage to protect you in the worst-case scenarios.

FAQs

We’ve compiled some of the most frequently asked questions for Vermont drivers.

Is insurance cheap in Vermont?

Yes, insurance is cheap in Vermont, falling 36 percent below the national average of $1,070 a year, according to the National Association of Insurance Commissioners. The average in Vermont is $785, though some people can get policies for as little as $292.

Is Vermont a no-fault state?

Vermont is not a no-fault state; it’s an at-fault state. That means it requires the liable party to pay for the damage and medical bills of those harmed in an accident.

Do you need proof of insurance to register a car in Vermont?

You need proof of insurance to register a car in Vermont. While you have 60 days to register a new car, you can’t drive it without insurance. It’s best to get insurance as soon as you take ownership of the vehicle.

Does Vermont allow out-of-state registration?

According to the Vermont DMV, you aren’t allowed to have out-of-state registration for a vehicle. Anyone is eligible to register a vehicle in the state.

Citations

  1. One in Eight Drivers Uninsured. Insurance Research Council. (2021, Mar 22).
    https://www.insurance-research.org/sites/default/files/downloads/UM%20NR%20032221.pdf

  2. 2018/2019 Auto Insurance Database Report. National Association of Insurance Commissioners. (2022).
    https://content.naic.org/sites/default/files/publication-aut-pb-auto-insurance-database.pdf

  3. Penalties for Driving without Auto Insurance by State. Consumer Federation of America. (2014, Jan).
    https://consumerfed.org/pdfs/140310_penaltiesfordrivingwithoutautoinsurance_cfa.pdf

  4. Graduated License Laws. Vermont Department of Motor Vehicles. (2022).
    https://dmv.vermont.gov/licenses/types-of-licenses-ids/junior-drivers-license/graduated-license-laws#

  5. Car Accidents: Statutes of Limitations. Enjuris. (2022).
    https://www.enjuris.com/car-accident/statutes-of-limitations.html

  6. The Vermont Statutes Online. Vermont General Assembly. (2022).
    https://legislature.vermont.gov/statutes/section/23/011/00800

  7. 2020 State Repair Cost Rankings. CarMD. (2020, Jul).
    https://www.carmd.com/wp/vehicle-health-index-introduction/2020-carmd-state-index/

  8. 2019 Crime in the United States. Federal Bureau of Investigation. (2019).
    https://ucr.fbi.gov/crime-in-the-u.s/2019/crime-in-the-u.s.-2019/topic-pages/tables/table-4

  9. NICB ‘Hot Spots’: Auto Thefts Up Significantly Across the Country. National Insurance Crime Bureau. (2021, Aug 31).
    https://www.nicb.org/news/news-releases/nicb-hot-spots-auto-thefts-significantly-across-country

  10. Fatality Facts 2019. Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, Highway Loss Data Institute. (2021, Mar).
    https://www.iihs.org/topics/fatality-statistics/detail/state-by-state