Everything you need to know about driving safely and legally in West Virginia
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All 1,130,389 drivers in West Virginia must hold insurance and carry proof of insurance while driving. For West Virginia drivers, auto insurance is 13 percent cheaper than the national average at $915 annually. Whether you are a new West Virginian driver, moving to the state, or just catching up on the driving laws and requirements in West Virginia, we’ve got the information you need.
If you are looking for the cheapest coverage option, the state minimums might be the route for you:
While the minimum coverage is the cheapest insurance in West Virginia, we recommend getting more. Supplemental coverage from an auto insurance company saves you from paying out of pocket for damages.
We recommend holding $500,000 of liability coverage to ensure you won’t have to pay out of pocket for a third party’s property damage or injuries.
Comprehensive coverage covers any damage that is not from a collision. This includes weather damage, theft, civil disturbance, and vandalism. Our recommendation is to hold the same amount of comprehensive coverage as the actual market value of your car.
Collision coverage covers the cost to repair or replace your vehicle after a collision, regardless of fault. We recommend holding the same amount of collision coverage as the actual market value of your car.
For uninsured and underinsured motorist coverage, we recommend carrying $500,000.
Medical payments coverage covers medical expenses for you and your passengers, regardless of fault. We recommend $500,000 of coverage to ensure you don’t need to pay out of pocket for your medical expenses.
The cost of auto insurance premiums in West Virginia, according to 2020 data from the National Association of Insurance Commissioners, is $915 annually on average. This cost is 13 percent lower than the national average of $1,047.1
However, we have seen rates from $458 to $2,430 in West Virginia. Your rates will be lower if you have a clean driving record, with higher rates for those with DUIs, at-fault accidents, and tickets.
If you are looking for auto insurance options in West Virginia, check out these providers:
There are several ways to lower your premiums in West Virginia:
West Virginia requires all drivers to carry paper or electronic proof of insurance. If you want to carry a digital copy of your insurance, see if your provider offers a mobile app. If not, you can download a digital copy of your insurance from your provider’s website.
If law enforcement catches you driving without insurance, the penalty is a $500-$2,000 fine and possible imprisonment ranging from 15 days to one year. License and registration suspension depend on whether you are a first-time or repeat offender.
Now that you are familiar with West Virginia’s insurance requirements, it’s time to learn the road rules.
West Virginia is an at-fault state, which means the party who’s at fault for the accident pays for both property damage and bodily injury. Because of West Virginia’s modified comparative negligence law, you are not allowed to collect any damages if your fault is over 50 percent.
In West Virginia, 103,996 drivers are uninsured, which accounts for 9 percent of drivers.2 If you have more than one car on your policy, you can stack your uninsured and underinsured motorist coverage. To find your stacked amount of coverage, multiply your selected limit by your number of cars.
West Virginia keeps DUIs on your record for 10 years. For your first offense, your license will be suspended for six months, and you will need to install an ignition interlock device. If it is a second or subsequent offense, you need to keep your ignition interlock device for a year.
If your blood alcohol concentration is above 0.15 percent, you will be imprisoned for a minimum of 48 hours and have to pay a $200-$1,000 fine, even for a first offense. Your license will be suspended for 45 days, and you will be required to have an ignition interlock device on your vehicle for 270 days or nine months.
All drivers and passengers must wear seat belts on West Virginia roads. The seat belt law is under primary enforcement, meaning that police can ticket a driver or passenger without any other traffic violations.
West Virginia has a handheld and texting ban for all drivers. If law enforcement catches you texting while driving, you’ll have to pay a fine of $100 to $300. West Virginia bans cell phone usage for drivers with an intermediate license or learner’s permit and those under 18 years old.
In West Virginia, you must graduate from both your instructional permit and your intermediate license to get your adult license. To receive your instructional permit, you must be 15 years old, have a current Driver’s Eligibility Certificate issued by your county school board, pass the written knowledge test and vision screening, and obtain written consent from a parent or legal guardian with Form DMV-233. While driving with the instructional permit, you must:
To receive your intermediate license, you must be 16 years old, have a current Driver’s Eligibility Certificate issued by your county school board, and pass the road skills test. While driving with your intermediate license, you must:
To get your adult license, you must be 17 years old, have a current Driver’s Eligibility Certificate issued by your county school board, and have held your intermediate license with no violations for at least one year.
After a car accident that involved property damage and personal injury, you have two years to file a claim. If you wait longer than two years, there is no guarantee that your provider will cover the claim.
In West Virginia, auto insurance providers must notify you of a midterm cancellation 30 days before the effective date, no matter the reason for cancellation. They cannot cancel policies that have been in effect for over 60 days unless you don’t pay the premiums, commit fraud or misrepresentation on your application, or have a revoked or suspended license.
If your provider doesn’t intend to renew your plan after expiration, it must notify you 45 days before the expiration date and explain its reasoning. Providers often drop policies because they no longer offer that type of insurance or don’t want to write as many policies in your area, or because you were caught driving drunk.
West Virginia allows self-insurance if you have more than 25 registered vehicles. To qualify, you must have $100,000 of total assets with commissioner approval4.
As a driver in West Virginia, you must get your car inspected every 12 months at an official inspection station licensed by the West Virginia State Police. To find your county’s inspection station, go to the West Virginia page at Emissions.org5.
When your vehicle passes the inspection, you will receive a sticker for the inside of your windshield, which is valid for a year. Driving with an invalid sticker is illegal.
The inspectors will need to verify your legal registration and insurance certificate. They will check these components of your car:
An SR-22 is a temporary certificate to show you meet the state’s insurance minimums after committing a serious offense. West Virginia does not require SR-22s, but if you are convicted of a serious driving offense, you should expect your insurance rates to increase.
The state of West Virginia does not require defensive driving courses, but you can take them to remove three points from your license, dismiss a traffic ticket, or get a discount on auto insurance. You can only take a defensive driving course for a point reduction once a year. Courses are offered online and in person and take four to eight hours.
West Virginia does not have any serious injury or monetary thresholds you must meet if you are in an accident and want to sue. Because West Virginia is an at-fault state, you can sue for economic and noneconomic damages regardless of the severity of your injuries or your monetary losses.
If an accident involves injury, property damage, or death worth over $1,000, report it to the police immediately. If you do not report as soon as possible, the state will suspend your license.
In West Virginia, insurance providers can use your credit score and gender to determine your premiums. You can expect higher premiums if you are male or have a low credit score, and lower premiums if you are female or have a high credit score.
A total loss is when the vehicle cannot be repaired safely, the repairs cost more than the vehicle’s estimated value, or the damage meets the state’s total loss guidelines. In West Virginia, a car is a total loss if the cost of damage exceeds 75 percent of the car’s actual market value.
Now that you’ve looked over West Virginia’s insurance requirements and driving laws, it’s time to make a move.
West Virginia requires you to have insurance on your vehicle before registering it. If you are moving to West Virginia, you need to register and title your vehicle 30 days before establishing residency in the state. Here’s how to register:
If you have any questions, you can contact the West Virginia DMV.
Take these steps to get a copy of your car title:
If you’re looking for more information about West Virginia’s insurance laws, you can contact its insurance department.
The average cost of vehicle repairs in West Virginia is $377.31, which is 2 percent lower than the national average of $383.37.
Crime rates and traffic fatalities in your area can raise your insurance rates. That’s why it’s important to look at the statistics whenever you are moving to a new state.
West Virginia’s rate of motor vehicle theft is 93 percent lower than the national average. For every 100,000 of its inhabitants, there were 127 motor vehicle thefts in 20207. Charleston and Arlington are two of the worst cities for auto theft in West Virginia.
|Metropolitan statistical area||Motor vehicle thefts per 100,000 inhabitants in 2020 (high to low)|
In 2019, there were 260 traffic fatalities for every 100 million vehicle miles traveled in West Virginia. That’s 172 percent lower than the national average of 708 fatalities for every 100 million miles9.
Brushing up on driving laws and insurance requirements is important in any state. If you have questions about other states’ laws and requirements, look into our state-by-state driving guide.
If you’d like to know more about auto insurance in West Virginia, keep on reading.
Follow these steps to cancel your auto insurance in West Virginia:
After buying a used car in West Virginia, you have two to 30 days to transfer it onto your insurance plan. Contact your provider for details on its policy if you are in the market for used cars and need to rely on the grace period.
In West Virginia, you need to add your teenager to your car insurance before they get their license. Teenagers must be on insurance once they get their learner’s permits. If you don’t want to add your teenage children to your policy, they have the option to get a policy themselves.
Car accidents usually remain on your record for three to five years in West Virginia. Once the accident is off your record, it will no longer affect your insurance premiums.
2019/2020 Auto Insurance Database Report. NAIC. (2023, Jan).
One in Eight Drivers Uninsured. Insurance Research Council. (2021, Mar).
Application for a Driver’s License or Identification Card. West Virginia DMV. (2021, Sep).
CHAPTER 17D. MOTOR VEHICLE SAFETY RESPONSIBILITY LAW.. West Virginia Legislature. (2020).
How to Reduce Driving Emissions & Pollution. Emissions.org. (2022).
2020 State Repair Cost Rankings. CarMD. (2021, Jul).
Crime in the United States. FBI.
NICB ‘Hot Spots’: Auto Thefts Up Significantly Across the Country. FBI. (2021, Aug).
Fatality Facts 2019 State by state. IIHS. (2021, Mar).