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Published: April 11, 2022Last updated: October 20, 2022

Guide to Car Insurance in Virginia

While car insurance isn’t required in this state, more than 5 million drivers have it anyway.

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Virginia is one of two states that don’t require car insurance. Instead, you can get away with paying a $500 uninsured motorist fee and calling it a day.

However, without car insurance, you’ll have to pay out of pocket for any property damages or bodily injuries you cause in an accident, which could be well over $500. As such, 89 percent of the state’s drivers choose to carry car insurance, which, fortunately, costs nearly 25 percent less in Virginia than the national average. Here’s everything you need to know about car insurance and driving in the Mother of States.

Does Virginia Require Car Insurance?

Virginia doesn’t require car insurance unless you are ordered to get an SR-22 or FR-44, which we will detail below. Everyone else can skip purchasing car insurance and pay the DMV a $500 uninsured motorist fee instead.

However, if you opt to get insurance, you must get at least the state’s minimum requirements.

  • Bodily injury liability: $25,00 per person, $50,000 per accident
  • Property damage liability: $20,000

Liability coverage covers the other person’s injuries and damages in an accident you caused. It does not cover your car’s damages in at-fault accidents.

Now, let’s get back to those SR-22s and FR-44s. These are the only instances where you’re required to get car insurance in Virginia:

  • SR-22s: An SR-22 is a form that proves you have minimum car insurance coverage. You’ll only need an SR-22 if you’ve been convicted of an uninsured motor vehicle suspension, falsifying an insurance certification, not providing proof of insurance under insurance monitoring, or an unsatisfied judgment. An SR-22 is also required if your driver’s license has been suspended for voluntary/involuntary vehicular manslaughter, car-related perjury, any motor vehicle felony, a hit-and-run involving death or injury, or a second conviction of driving for commercial purposes without a license.
  • FR-44s: In contrast, an FR-44 is a form that proves you have double the minimum coverage. FR-44s are required for more serious convictions, like driving under the influence, maiming under the influence, driving with a license forfeited for a conviction, or a juvenile found not innocent, or for violating any similar federal, state, or local laws.

Light BulbNOTE

While someone with an SR-22 would need to prove they have a liability limit of $95,000, someone with an FR-44 would need a liability limit of $190,000.

How Much Coverage to Get

In our experience, coverage limits of $75,000 for bodily injury liability and $20,000 for property damage liability are too low. Injuries and property damage can cost much more than that, so buy as much coverage as you can afford.

Aside from these minimum coverages, we recommend a few supplemental coverages to protect yourself financially.

  • Uninsured motorist coverage: If someone who hits you is driving without insurance, they may not have enough funds to cover your property damages and bodily injuries. If that’s the case, uninsured motorist coverage can kick in. Set the limits equal to your liability limits.
  • Medical payments coverage: Of course, liability coverage applies only to the other party’s losses in accidents you cause, but what about your losses? Medical payments coverage will pay for your injuries in accidents you cause, in addition to your regular health insurance.
  • Collision coverage: Collision coverage pays for damages to your property in accidents you cause.
  • Comprehensive coverage: Comprehensive coverage also pays for your property damages, but the damage must be from events other than collisions, such as vandalism, car theft, and natural disasters. For collision and comprehensive coverage, the limits are your car’s actual market value (AMV) or what you would get if you sold your car tomorrow.

Average Cost of Car Insurance in Virginia

The good news for Virginia drivers? Car insurance costs are low in the Old Dominion state — 24 percent lower than the national average, to be exact. Here are the average annual costs, according to 2019 National Association of Insurance Commissioners data.

  • Total: $861.18
  • Liability coverage: $491.51
  • Collision coverage: $323.76
  • Comprehensive coverage: $149.42

Of course, the cost of auto insurance varies widely based on many factors, including your driving history, credit score, gender, and ZIP code. We’ve seen annual costs ranging from $327 to $4,185.27, with the highest auto insurance costs for teens. Average rates are lower for those with a clean driving record and higher for drivers under the age of 25. Learn more about the factors that affect car insurance rates.

Car Insurance Companies in Virginia

  • Allstate
  • Erie
  • Farm Bureau
  • GEICO
  • Nationwide
  • Progressive
  • State Farm
  • Travelers
  • USAA

How to Get Lower Car Insurance Premiums in Virginia

  • Bundle. If you pay for another type of insurance, whether life or home or pet, bundle it under the same provider to get lower premiums.
  • Use discounts. Every car insurance company offers some discounts. Ask your agent which ones apply to you.
  • Lower limits. If you’re okay with having less coverage, lower your liability limits; minimum coverage will be significantly cheaper than full coverage car insurance.
  • Get rid of supplemental coverages. You can also drop coverages that the state doesn’t require (i.e., everything except liability coverage).
  • Raise your deductibles. Raise your collision and comprehensive deductibles to lower your premiums.

Required Proof of Insurance

Since Virginia doesn’t require car insurance, you don’t need to carry proof of insurance while driving. However, if you’re found not to have paid the uninsured motorist fee or obtained minimum coverage, you’ll have to surrender your plates immediately.

Otherwise, you’ll be charged with a Class 3 misdemeanor and forced to pay a $500 fine. Until you pay this fine, your license and registration will be suspended. Even after your license is reinstated, you’ll be required to maintain an SR-22 for three years following your reinstatement date.

If you go the insurance route, make sure to carry proof of insurance with you whenever you’re driving, in either paper or electronic form.

Virginia State Laws

Now that you’ve gotten your car insurance sorted out, it’s time to drive. But wait: To avoid tickets and license suspensions, first brush up on Virginia’s rules of the road.

Fault System

Virginia has an at-fault insurance system, meaning that in a car accident, the party at fault is financially responsible for the other party’s property damage and bodily injury. And since the state has contributory negligence law, if a plaintiff acted negligently in any way, they can’t receive compensation, regardless of whether the defendant was more at fault.

Drivers Without Insurance

Despite the lack of car insurance requirements, only 11 percent of drivers in Virginia don’t have insurance, which is actually 19 percent lower than the national average, according to estimates from the Insurance Research Council.

While the state doesn’t require uninsured motorist coverage (just the fee), if you have it, it will include hit and runs, and you can stack coverage. Stacking means you can multiply your uninsured motorist limit by the number of cars you insure.

DUIs Laws in Virginia

Offense number Time since last offense Charge Minimum fine Minimum jail time
1 N/A Class 1 misdemeanor $250 BAC 0.15%-0.2%: 5 days

 

BAC over 0.2%: 10 days

2 5 years Class 1 misdemeanor $500 20 days to 1 year
2 5-10 years Class 1 misdemeanor $500 10 days

 

BAC 0.15%-0.2%: 10 days added

 

BAC over 0.2%: 20 days added

3 5 years Class 6 felony $1,000 6 months
3 10 years Class 6 felony $1,000 90 days
4 10 years Class 6 felony $1,000 1 year1

Seat Belt Laws in Virginia

Seat Who’s required to wear seat belts? Enforcement for those over age 18 Enforcement for those under age 18
Front Everyone Primary Primary
Back Under age 18 only Secondary Primary2

Primary enforcement means police can ticket a person for a violation on its own, while secondary enforcement means the violation must be accompanied by a violation that’s under primary enforcement. In other words, if you are over 18 and not wearing a seat belt in the back seat, the police can ticket you only if you’re also committing another traffic violation.

Distracted Driving

Virginia has a ban on operating handheld devices for all drivers. If you’re caught using a phone while driving, you’ll incur a fine and points on your driving record.

  • First offense: Three points, $125 fine
  • Second offense: Three points, $250 fine

Teen Drivers

Teen drivers are more prone to crashes than any other age group due to their lack of experience behind the wheel. That’s why Virginia, like most states, has a graduated driver’s license system for young drivers. If you have a learner’s permit, you’ll face the following driving restrictions.

Restriction category Restriction details
Curfew 12-4 a.m. if under 18

 

Exceptions:

Parent/guardian in front passenger seat Driving to and from work, school, emergency, or religious activity

Supervision Licensed driver 21 or older (can be 18 if they are a legal guardian or immediate family member) in front passenger seat

 

Exceptions for drivers ages 16.25-18 who have had a permit for 9 months and whose parent signed a Virginia driver training
certificate

Passengers Only 1 passenger under 18 (excluding family members) for drivers who are also under 18

Statute of Limitations

Wait no more than five years following a car accident to file property damage claims and no more than two years to file personal injury claims. If you wait beyond Virginia’s statutes of limitations, your claim won’t be covered.

Notification Laws: Cancellations and Non-Renewals

After the first 60 days, car insurance companies can cancel your insurance midterm if your license has been suspended or revoked, you committed fraud or misrepresentation, or you haven’t paid your premiums. In the case of nonpayment, the company has 15 days to notify you before your policy’s expiration date so you can find new coverage. In all other cases, the notification window is 45 days.

Companies can also choose not to renew your policy at the end of its term, but they must give you 45 days’ notice. Learn more about cancellations and non-renewals.

Self-Insurance

Although Virginia is one of two states that doesn’t require auto insurance (the other is New Hampshire), those with more than 21 vehicles can opt to self-insure. However, they’ll need to have $95,000 worth of collateral and proof that they have net working capital equal to the minimum liability limits. Follow these steps to self-insure if you meet the requirements:

  1. Fill out the form — https://www.dmv.virginia.gov/webdoc/pdf/fr302.pdf.
  2. Gather the necessary documents.
    • Current list of the cars you own
    • Latest consolidated financial report, including profit and loss statement, certified by a reputable accounting firm
    • Financial statement from the end of the fiscal year
    • Crash involvement report (FR-521) — https://www.dmv.virginia.gov/webdoc/pdf/fr521.pdf
  3. Send the form and documents to this address:
    • Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles
      P.O. Box 27412
      Richmond, VA 23269

Inspection Requirements

In Virginia, you’ll need to get your car inspected for safety once a year. Here’s how to do it:

    1. Find an inspection station. While the state doesn’t maintain a list of all 4,200 inspection stations, you can try auto dealerships and car repair facilities (look for a white-and-blue sign that says the location is an official inspection station). If you can’t find a station, contact a Safety Division Area Office via https://vsp.virginia.gov/find-a-safety-office/.
    2. Bring your payment. Here are the fees for a car inspection:
Vehicle type Inspection fee
Tractor truck

Truck with a gross vehicle weight rating of 26,000 pounds or more Motor vehicle used to transport passengers with a seating capacity of more than 16 passengers (including driver)

$51
Motorcycle

Autocycle

$12
Trailers

Motor homes

All other vehicles

$203

Out-of-state vehicles must also undergo emissions testing in these counties:

  • Arlington
  • Fairfax
  • Loudoun
  • Prince William
  • Strafford

Emissions testing is required in these cities as well:

  • Alexandria
  • Fairfax
  • Falls Church
  • Manassas
  • Manassas Park

Emissions inspections are also required every two years for vehicles matching these criteria:

Power source Model year Maximum manufacturer’s designated gross vehicle weight rating (in pounds)
Gas Less than 25 model years before Jan. 1 of current calendar year 10,000
Diesel 1997 or newer 8,500

This testing is not required for the following vehicles:

  • Fire and rescue equipment
  • Motorcycles
  • Qualified hybrid vehicles (achieving at least 50 city mpg, or at least 48 for model years 2008 and 2009)
  • Registered antique vehicles
  • Registered military surplus motor vehicles
  • Tactical military vehicles
  • Vehicles powered by clean fuels exclusively, including these types:
    • Compressed natural gas
    • Electricity
    • Hydrogen
    • Hythane
    • Liquefied natural gas
    • Liquefied petroleum gas

Follow these steps to get your vehicle emissions test:

  1. Go to an emissions testing location. You can find an inspection location near you at https://www.virginiavip.org/PublicSite/Pages/InspectionStations.aspx.4
  2. Pay the fee. The emissions testing fee is $28.

Defensive Driving Programs

There are a couple of reasons why a Virginian would take a defensive driving course: The court may have ordered them to, or, if they’re at least 55, they might want an auto insurance discount. Either way, here’s how to take a defensive driving course and take five points off your license every two years:

  1. Find a course at https://www.dmv.virginia.gov/drivers/#clinics.asp.
  2. Pay for the class, which can cost up to $100.
  3. Take the course, which will be eight hours long in total.

Thresholds for Suing

Virginia’s state driving laws don’t indicate any monetary or serious injury threshold for suing following a car accident. If someone doesn’t agree with a payout following an accident, they’re free to seek economic damages for these claims:

  • Anxiety
  • Lost wages
  • Medical expenses
  • Pain
  • Suffering

When to Report an Accident

Virginia requires people to immediately report an accident that results in injury or death, or face a fine of up to $250.

Credit Scores and Gender

Some states ban insurance companies from determining prices on the basis of credit scores and gender, protecting people with bad credit and men from higher rates. However, Virginia isn’t one of those states, so people with good credit and women will pay less.

Total Loss

Let’s say you have a car that is worth $30,000 and you get into a bad car accident, causing $24,000 in damages. In that case, because the repairs will cost 80 percent of your car’s AMV, your car would be declared a total loss, and you’d be reimbursed $30,000, provided you had collision coverage.

In Virginia, the total loss threshold is 75 percent, so any car with damages that cost 75 percent or more of its AMV would be declared a total loss.

State Contact Information 

Now that you’re familiar with Virginia’s laws surrounding car insurance and driving, it’s finally time to get on the roads.

Registration Information

Follow these steps to register your car:

  1. Gather the information you need.
    • Virginia car title
    • Completed Application for Registration VSA 14 — https://www.dmv.virginia.gov/webdoc/pdf/vsa14.pdf
    • Emissions inspection information (if testing is required)
    • Proof of minimum insurance or uninsured motorist fee
  2. Get your payment. The fee will depend on your type of vehicle and its weight.
Type of vehicle Weight (in pounds) Registration fee
Antique vehicle All $50
Autocycle All $21.75
Electric vehicle All $109
Low-speed vehicle All $30.75
Moped All $18.25
Motorcycle All $24.75
Passenger vehicle Up to 4,000 $30.75
Passenger vehicle 4,001-6,500 $35.75
Pickup truck 4,001-6,500 $35.75
Pickup truck 6,501-10,000 $44.75
  1. Register online. You can complete the entire registration process at https://www.dmv.virginia.gov/apps/webtrans/Vehicle_Registration/intro.aspx.
  2. Or register by mail. Mail the necessary documents and fee to this address:
    • Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles
      Attn: Renewal Center
      P.O. Box 27412
      Richmond, VA 23269-0001
  3. Or register in person. Find a mobile office via https://www.dmv.virginia.gov/general/#csc/mcscalendar.asp or a DMV Select (https://www.dmv.virginia.gov/DMVLocator/DMV.aspx?LocationType=S).

How to Get a Duplicate Car Title in Virginia

  • Apply online at https://www.dmv.virginia.gov/apps/webtrans/pin_maint/pin_logon.aspx and pay the $15 fee.
  • If you want to apply by mail, fill out the form at https://www.dmv.virginia.gov/webdoc/pdf/vsa67.pdf. You won’t need to get the form notarized. Send the form and fee to this address:
    • Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles
      P.O. Box 27412
      Richmond, VA 23269

State Insurance Department Contact Information

  • Email: bureauofinsurance@scc.virginia.gov
  • Phone: 804-371-9741
  • Mail:
    • 1300 E. Main St.
      Tyler Building
      Richmond, VA 23219

How Much Car Repairs Cost

Car repairs in Virginia cost $403.19, which is 5 percent higher than the national average. That breaks down to $148.50 for labor and $254.69 for parts, according to a 2020 CarMD report.

Car Theft and Traffic Fatalities

While Virginia has a relatively low rate of car theft, its traffic fatality rate is high.

Car Theft

In 2019, the last time the FBI published national data, Virginia had only 126 car thefts for every 100,000 residents, a rate 95 percent lower than the national average.

However, some of the state’s cities had higher rates, which is normal, as cities often have higher rates than suburban or rural areas. See below for the 2020 data from the National Insurance Crime Bureau.

Metropolitan statistical area in Virginia Rate of motor vehicle theft per 100,000 inhabitants in 2020
Kingsport-Bristol 244
Richmond 214
Roanoke 200
Washington-Arlington-Alexandria 197
Virginia Beach-Norfolk-Newport News 195

CheckFYI

Auto theft can be theft of entire cars or specific parts, including license plates, tailgates, wheels and tires, third-row seats, and catalytic converters. Learn more about catalytic converter theft in our auto theft research.

Traffic Fatalities

Although Virginia is considered a safe place when it comes to auto theft, it has a traffic fatality rate 15 percent higher than the national average, at 831 deaths per 100 million vehicle miles traveled, according to 2019 data from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety.

That’s it for the driving laws and insurance policies in Virginia, but if you want to learn about some neighboring areas, read our articles on D.C. auto insurance and Maryland auto insurance. Not leaving the state anytime soon? Read more about getting car insurance in Virginia below.

Frequently Asked Questions

Does insurance follow the car or the driver in Virginia?

Insurance follows the car in Virginia, not the driver. That means that car insurance would cover anyone driving a particular car under permissive use, meaning the owner/lessor allowed them to drive their car.

Which car insurance companies are best for a teenager in Virginia?

These are the best and most affordable car insurance companies for a teenager in Virginia:

  • Alfa
  • Allstate
  • Erie
  • Farm Bureau
  • GEICO
  • Nationwide
  • Progressive
  • State Farm
  • Travelers
  • USAA

Because these companies offer low rates, they’re some of the best options for teenagers in Virginia, as adding a teen to your policy can increase your rates dramatically.

How late can a 17-year-old drive in Virginia?

A 17-year-old in Virginia can drive until midnight. However, they cannot drive from midnight until 4 a.m., according to the Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles. There are a few exceptions:

  • Driving to or from a place of employment
  • Driving to or from an adult-supervised activity sponsored by their school or public, religious, or civic organization
  • Driving with a licensed spouse 18 years old or older or a parent/guardian in the front passenger seat
  • Driving in case of an emergency, which includes volunteer firefighters responding to emergency calls or any members of rescue squads

How much is car insurance for a 20-year-old in Virginia?

Car insurance for a 20-year-old in Virginia costs an average of $2,662 a year, with a range from about $568 to $6,612.

Citations

  1. § 18.2-270. Penalty for driving while intoxicated; subsequent offense; prior conviction.. Virginia’s Legislative Information System. (2022). https://law.lis.virginia.gov/vacode/18.2-270/

  2. Seat Belt Frequently Asked Questions. Virginia DMV. (2022). https://www.dmv.virginia.gov/safety/#programs/seatbelts/faq.asp

  3. Vehicle Safety Inspection. Virginia State Police. (2022). https://vsp.virginia.gov/safety-and-enforcement/vehicle-safety-inspection/

  4. How do I get an inspection? Virginia Department of Environmental Equality. https://www.virginiavip.org/PublicSite/Pages/InspectionStations.aspx