- Auto Insurance policy with limits of at least:
- $25,000 of bodily injury or death of another person
- $50,000 of bodily injury or death to all other people
- $20,000 of injury to or destruction of property.
- (The Bureau of Insurance also recommends collision and comprehensive insurance, which covers the cost of repairs regardless who is at fault, rental reimbursement, and medical expense insurance.)
Alternative Options to Insurance:
An uninsured motor vehicle fee (UMV) is an option for those who cannot acquire insurance. This allows a driver to operate and register a vehicle in Virginia for a year. However, this option does not provide coverage, and the vehicle own will operate the vehicle at his or her own risk. The fee is $500, and the UMV expires with a vehicle’s registration.
The state of Virginia offers a self-insurance or surety bond option for business vehicles.
The DMV has varying requirements depending on the nature of the business vehicle. All surety bonds must be approved via application through the DMV. According to the Commonwealth of Virginia’s website, you can pick up an application at any DMV location.
Required Proof of Insurance in Virginia
It is required for all drivers within the state of Virginia to have proof of insurance at all times when operating a motor vehicle. Drivers must present this proof of coverage, self-insurance or surety bond to police officers and DMV officials when requested.
Insurance Card provided by Insurance company including all of the following:
- Insurance Company
- Policy Number
- Effective Date/Expiration Date
- Year, make/model of registered vehicle
- Name of Insured Driver
Self Insurance certificates are issued by the state and must include the following:
- Certificate Number
- Year, make/model of registered vehicle
- Name of driver covered by the certificate
- Surety Bond
- Name of company issuing bond
- Bond number
- Name of driver covered by bond
Office of the Insurance Commisioner – Jacqueline K. Cunningham
Bureau of Insurance
Tyler Building, 1300 E. Main St.
Richmond, Virginia 23219
Obtaining a Driver’s License
Here are the requirements to obtain your license for residents under the age of 18:
- Be a resident of the Commonwealth of Virginia
- Be at least 16 years and 3 months old
- Pass a driver education program that is approved by the state
- Hold a learner’s permit for at least 9 months if you are under 19 or 30 days if you are 19 or older
- Get at least 45 hours of supervised driving practice (15 of those at night)
Once you meet the requirements, visit your local DMV and apply for a driver license. Bring the following:
- Proof of completion of driver’s education.
- Parent or guardian must sign a parental certification ensuring that you have driven the 45 supervised hours.
- Payment paid by cash, credit card, and at some DMV offices, check.
Here are the requirements to obtain your first license for residents over the age of 19:
- Complete a driver’s license application
- Hold a learner’s permit for 30 days
- Pass the vision screening exam.
- Pass a knowledge exam
- Pass the driving test
The following documents are required for application:
- Written consent if under 18.
- Proof of identity, such as a birth certificate, social security card or passport.
Completing Driver Education
When an individual reaches the age of 15 years and 6 months, they may enroll in a Driver’s Education Program. To be eligible, a student must have the following:
- Proof of identity that shows that a potential student is both a citizen and a resident of Virginia
- Pass a vision screening exam.
- Pass a knowledge exam.
- If between 15 years and 6 months and 18 years old, a student must have parent permission.
To complete a program a student must meet the following:
- 36 periods of classroom time
- 7 periods of instructor-supervised driving time.
- 7 periods of driving observation.
- 45 hours of parental supervision time, 15 of which must be completed at night.
It is recommended that you research any driver-training program before enrolling. You want to make sure the program you choose meets the following standards:
- Instructors are licenses and have certificates from the State of Virginia
- The programs meet state requirements.
- No previous violations
- Enough instructors to meet student demands
Some high schools offer driver education programs. These programs meet the state requirements and have licensed instructors. Enrolling in a driver education program can also help you qualify for the best car insurance rates in Virginia because many insurers reward those who drive safely.
Knowing the Rules of the Road (use, disregard, or change information as needed)
Virginia’s traffic violation policies can be found online. A full list of moving violations can be obtained by contacting the DMV, as well as on various law websites. Abiding by traffic laws can help qualify you for the lowest auto insurance rates in Virginia. Below is a list of moving violations in the state of Virginia.
- Accidents/ Hit and Run: VA Code 46.2-894
- Alcoholic beverages: VA Code 18.2-266
- Child passenger restraints: VA Code 46.2-1095
- Driving Without a License: VA Code 46.2-300
- DUI – Impaired Driving: VA Code 18.2-266
- Mechanical Violations: VA Code Title 46.2, Ch. 10
- Racing vehicles and reckless driving: VA Code 46.2-852
- Seat belt requirements and penalties: VA Code 46.2-1094
- Speeding and maximum speed limits: VA Code 46.2-870
- U-Turns: VA Code 46.2-845
- Unlawful Vehicle Modifications: VA Code Title 46.2, Ch. 10
Know Your Rates
Insurance companies calculate rates by considering the licensed drivers in the household, regardless of relation. This establishes a base rate, which is then adjusted based on several factors, including:
- Age. Statistics have shown that drivers younger than 25 and older than 65 are involved in more accidents than those between the ages of 35 and 65. Premiums are therefore higher for younger and older drivers.
- Sex. Statistical evidence has also shown that males are prone to more accidents than females. Insurance rates are therefore higher for males than they are females, who typically enjoy low cost car insurance in Virginia.
- Driving record and claims history. Multiple accidents, moving violations and insurance claims will affect your insurance rate as well. Those with clean driving records will benefit with lower rates.
- Marital status. Statistics indicate that married couples as less likely to have accidents, and therefore are offered lower rates than unmarried individuals.
- Geographical area. Your residential crime rates play a part in determining the cost of insurance as well. The safer the area, the lower the crime rate and insurance rate you will be expected to pay. Those who live in areas where traffic collisions are frequent may need to pay a higher insurance rate.
- Make, model, and year of the vehicle. Insurance rates generally increase with the quality of the vehicle, due to the likelihood of theft and the expense of potential damage.
- Credit history. The Commonwealth of Virginia allows the use of credit scores to determine insurance rates, premiums, and products. The better your credit score, the higher your chance will be of getting some of the best auto insurance rates in Virginia.
- Miles driven. Insurance companies will take into account the number of miles you drive each week in order to determine your insurance rate.
Lower Your Rates
Insurance agents can help you find the best plan for your price range. Shopping around is an excellent way to insurance that you get the most for your money. It is important to keep in mind that the lowest rates are not always the best, so do not be afraid to talk to different companies and ask questions about their policies. It is especially important to make sure that the company has permission to do business in the Commonwealth of Virginia. If you are concerned about the way an insurance company is conducting business, call the Office of Insurance Commissioner at (804) 371-9741 to get more information about that company, or to report any suspicious activity.
Take the time to ask about discounts that a company may offer but not advertise, such as discounts for good grades for students, discounts for a clean driving record, or discounts for having completely a course in driver’s education. Doing this can help you find the best car insurance rates in Virginia.
It is important to stay knowledgeable on your other insurance plans as well. Some plans may overlap in areas of coverage with your car insurance coverage.
Individuals over the age of 55 can reduce their insurance rates by completing an accident prevention course approved by the DMV.
If you are willing to pay a higher deductable, this will decrease your insurance rate.
Picking an Insurance Agent/Broker
Insurance agents represent companies and sell policies for commission on their sales. Brokers are not affiliated with a company and instead work to match individual clients with their individual needs, however they do receive commission from their sales.
It is important to select an agent or broker that is licensed by Virginia’s Bureau of Insurance. The Bureau of Insurance proves an online search engine that allows you to look up companies, agents and brokers in order to make sure they have the necessary credentials to sell insurance in the state of Virginia. In addition to this search engine, you can also call the Insurance Commissioner’s Office in order to learn about the complaints that have been filed against agents or brokers in the past.
The Bureau of Insurance also provides a Consumer Guide for buying auto insurance, complete with frequently asked questions and advice for speaking with an agent.
If an insurance company behaves unethically, do not be afraid to file a complaint. This must be done by mail or fax, as indicated by the Bureau of Insurance’s website. It is important to keep track of all correspondence between yourself and the company in question, so that you can sent all necessary documents along with your complaint. The Bureau will review your complaint and then respond to notify you of the actions that will take place as a result.
After an Accident
Accidents must be reported to Virginia’s State Patrol, the city police, or the county sheriff. Drivers must remain at the scene until given permission to leave by a police officer. A hit-and-run is considered a punishable offense. Be prepared to report all events prior to and during the collision to the emergency officials, and take down relevant information, such as police officer’s names and badge numbers, for your own accident report. If you do not report an accident and there is property damage, it could cost up to $ and potentially lead to a suspension of your license.
After notifying the police, contact your insurance company to report the accident. This should be done as soon as possible, and you should make sure to carefully follow the proper procedures for doing so. Make sure you have all the information about the accident at hand, including the other driver’s name and contact information, license plate numbers, insurance information, and vehicle information, even if the other driver has no car insurance in Virginia. You should also receive a case number from the police report. Have that on hand as well.
Your insurance company will respond by investigating the claim and determining the amount of pay. This process can take up to forty-five days. The company will notify you if your claim is delayed or denied.
It is possible that your insurance company will seek subrogation when someone else is responsible for the accident. Your insurance company will cover all related accident costs, but require compensation from the other driver’s insurance company.
Insurance for High-Risk Drivers
If you have a history of accidents, violations, or driving under the influence, you may be required to provide a SR-22 form from the Department of Licensing. This form functions as a guarantee by the insurance company that a driver will maintain the minimum requirement of auto insurance. Usually the insurance company will prepare this for you, but it’s important to keep in mind that not all companies provide SR-22 forms. Do your research if you are required to have this form.
The Virginia State Bureau of Insurance exists to help insurance customers. They will answer questions regarding insurance, complaints, problems with companies, agents, or brokers, and they will also enforce the law on the customer’s behalf. You can contact them at (804) 371-9741.