Virginia has several car insurance requirements that must be met before you can drive your vehicle. Noncompliance can result in large fines and penalties. As the premier resource for Va auto insurance, will help you meet those requirements so you can quickly and safely drive your automobile. Through verification and education, we show you the easiest way to meet guidelines and save money at the same time. Additional requirements may vary, depending if your vehicle is leased, or if it is covered under a commercial policy.
To buy your license plates or decals, you must have certification that your car is covered by “minimum liability insurance limits.” Older vehicles must provide the same certification. The company that covers your car must also be properly licensed and authorized to issue policies in the state. In addition to providing the lowest prices to cover your vehicles, we help you comply with local and state laws by verifying the company is providing the right coverages. Your declarations page will list your bodily injury and property damage limits, along with all other coverage, benefits, and riders.
Registering An Uninsured Vehicle
At the time you register, you must certify if the vehicle is insured or uninsured. If it is not covered, you may still register, but must pay the “Virginia Uninsured Motor Vehicle” (UMV) fee. In addition to normal registration fees, the UMV fee is $500. This will provide UMV compliance for 12 months but does not provide you with coverage. You still must purchase insurance on your vehicle. Many consumers believe they have meet liability requirements by simply paying the fine. But this is not true. An annual safety inspection must be passed with the appropriate sticker visible. Driving without the sticker could result in a violation and subsequent fine.
Any person who falsely certifies that they have coverage, and are found to be without insurance by the UMV, will face possible suspension of registration and driving privileges. Also a proof of coverage filing will be in effect for three years and other fees or charges may apply. Obviously, it pays to keep current! And the process is very quick and easy, and many locations have very flexible hours, including weekends. Although appointmenets are not taken, the wait time is typically very short. Also, renewal registration notices will be sent in the mail. Renewal through the mail or online is less expensive than visiting a local office. Online and mail renewal removes the $5 fee charged by Customer Service Centers.
The weight and type of vehicle determine the cost of registration. Specialized licenses and multi-year registrations may result in higher fees. However, a $2 discount is offered if the period is two years or more. Vehicles weighing 55,000 pounds (or more), currently unregistered, or registered under the International Registration plan may not be eligible for multi-year discounts.
Minimum Requirement Coverage (Don't Gamble With Low Coverage)
Virginia, like most states, requires minimum liability limits. They are $25,000 for the bodily injury or death of one person, $50,000 for the bodily injury or death of two or more persons, and $20,000 for property damage. Since these are MINIMUM limits, we recommend limits of at least $50,000, $100,000 and $25,000 respectively. A Surety Bond can also be purchased, although the funds will have to be received by the DMV.
Periodically, legislatures vote to increase these limits. We expect that the next change in limits may not occur until 2023 or later. The property damage limit is likely to increase along with the bodily injury (per person/per occurrence) limits. This should not cause premiums to significantly rise.
REAL ID Or Standard Driver's License
Drivers can choose between keeping the standard DMV license or changing to a REAL ID compliant license. The standard version is the type most persons have now. It can be used as an ID card, to vote, and for several additional tasks. However, as of October 1, 2020, the regular license can not be used to fly on a domestic U.S. flight or to secure a US facility. A valid U.S. passport would, however, be accepted. When the license is renewed, it will state that "federal limits apply."
A REAL ID can function as your driver's license, and will qualify as an approved credential on domestic flights (after October 1, 2020). A small star appears in the upper right hand corner, indicating that federal requirements have been met. This form of identification was originally created when the REAL ID Act of 2005 was passed. The new license is optional, so you are not forced to make the change.
Don't Let Your Policy Lapse
During the registration period, if liability coverage lapses, you must pay the uninsured motor vehicle fee, surrender the license plates to the DMV or reinsure your car or truck. This fee is $500, and must be payed every year when you renew the registration. However, as previously mentioned, you still can not drive, and will be subject to a license suspension if the appropriate coverage has not been purchased. It's not worth the risk to drive without coverage.
You are also required to deactivate your license plates (and registration) if you have not payed the fees and/or reinstated your license.Once deactivated, purchasing coverage is no longer required. However, the vehicle can not be used during this time or a citation will be given. For leases, the owner is often a bank or leasing company and they must formally request the deactivation, unless power of attorney is given to the lessee. Proof of coverage will activate both registration and license.
We Help You
We realize that the process of either reinstating coverage, suspending coverage, or simply verifying you have the correct coverage, can be timely and frustrating. Losing your license and ability to drive for just a day can cause chaos in any household! It can also cause you to miss work or an important event.
And that's where we can help. We know and understand which requirements must be met and how to make certain you are being compliant. If you're on a tight budget, we'll work with you to find a policy you can afford. A long lapse in coverage will have a much larger impact on your premium. If you can reinstate your policy without a lapse, you may avoid hundreds of dollars of higher premiums. There may be a short grace period that allows you to pay a "back-premium," assuming you were not invlved in an accident.
It's important that you avoid any lapse in coverage or a license suspension. Although both situations don't cost an insurer money directly, they will generate an instant (or near-instant) surcharge that could easily increase prices by 20% to as much as 100%. All carrier underwriting guidelines prohibit these types of infractions if you are to receive, or continue to receive a "preferred" rating. If the lapse is less than 30 days, it is sometimes possible to avoid a large rate hike.
If you do go without coverage and are placed on a "high-risk" policy, you don't have to stay there for an extended period of time. However, unless you request it (not all carriers), you may not get moved to a standard or preferred status without making a formal request. Often, carriers have multiple companies with similar names. For example, XYZ Fire & Casualty may be the high-risk division and XYZ Mutual may be the preferred division.
It's possible you were moved from one "division" to another, but never returned after your tickets and accidents fell off your record. This can result in unnecessary higher premiums. Please contact us for additional specifics. We can help you petition your company and request that you are moved back to the less expensive costing division. It's possible that the savings coud be as much as $500-$1,000 per year.
Verifying your Coverage
The Virginia Department Of Motor Vehicles will know if you have liability coverage on your vehicle. A verification system is utilized to find owners of vehicles who are not in compliance with their driving requirements. The verification begins when a motor vehicle is registered or an owner cancels their liability coverage. Common registration details along with information provided by insurers is compared to verify policies are inforce and compliant.
A special program (details are found here) monitors Commonwealth vehicles and drivers to help keep roads (and other drivers) safe. Whether it is during vacation season in the summer or cold weather conditions in the winter, there are many organizations that work together to ensure that laws and regulations are followed.
Electronic Motor Vehicle Liability Insurance Reporting is utilized at all times. Whenever a policy is terminated or a vehicle is added, it is verified. The Suspected Uninsured Accident process alerts the DMV if someone involved in an accident suspects the other party of not having coverage. The DMV then requests additional information including proof of coverage. If it is not furnished, a license suspension can result.
The State Corporation Commission (SCC) has a separate division that protects consumers by ensuring that state regulations regarding car insurance are followed. The SCC also is involved with the regulation of public service businesses and other related entities. Monitoring prices and mediating disputes are just a few of their responsibilities.
Edward Harris is the owner and founder of this website. Since 1980, he has been helping individuals and families with their car insurance needs. During that time, he has handled more than 10,000 applications and continues to provide service for thousands of clients.
Ed is married with two children and enjoys tennis, golf, and international politics. Reluctantly, he bowls once every 10 years.
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