West Virginia law states that all registered vehicles must be insured.
West Virginia minimum car insurance requirements are:
- Auto Insurance policy with limits of at least:
- Liability insurance of $20,000 for bodily injury to one person and $40,000 for bodily injuries to two or more people
- Liability insurance of $10,000 for injury to or destruction of property of others in any one accident
- Uninsured motorist insurance of $20,000 for bodily injury to one person and $40,000 for bodily injuries to two or more people
- Uninsured motorist insurance of $10,000 for destruction of property
- Though it is not required to purchase additional coverage, West Virginia requires that insurance providers offer options to purchase additional uninsured and underinsured motorist insurance.
Alternative Options to Insurance
There are no alternatives to the minimum liability coverage in West Virginia. Vehicles will not be registered with the state without proof of state minimum coverage.
Required Proof of Insurance in West Virginia
All drivers must carry a WV-1 Certificate of Insurance in their glove compartment or elsewhere in their vehicle at all times. Penalties for not carrying proper proof of insurance range from inability to register one’s vehicle or renew a driver’s license, to fines and jail time.
For information on mandatory motor vehicle insurance, contact:
West Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles- Compulsory Insurance Section
PO Box 17020
Charleston, WV 25317
(304) 558-0274 or 1(800) 642-9066
To check the status of a particular insurance agency or file a consumer complaint, contact:
West Virginia Offices of the Insurance Commissioner
1124 Smith St.
Charleston, WV 25301
(304) 558-3386 or 1(800) 879-8742
Obtaining a Driver’s License
West Virginia has put in place a Graduated Driving Licensing program with three levels for drivers age 15- 21.
Level I drivers are in the instructional permit phase. Level I drivers must:
- Pay a $5 fee.
- Be between 15 and 18 years old.
- Take a written driving knowledge test.
- Have a clean driving record for the six months immediately prior to applying for a Level II intermediate license.
- Have a licensed driver 21 years or older riding in the front seat.
- Only drive between 5 a.m. and 10 p.m.
- Consume no alcohol.
- Have no more than two non-family member passengers along with supervising adult.
- Not use a cell phone to call or send text messages while driving, punishable as a primary offense.
Level II drivers are in the intermediate license phase. Level II drivers must:
- Pay a $5 fee.
- Be between 16 and 18 years old, with a 30 day grace period.
- Take a road test.
- Have driven under a Level I permit for at least six months.
- Complete a 50 hour form including 10 night-time driving hours, certified by a parent or legal guardian or Driver Education Card.
- Receive no more than one moving violation. A second moving violation will result in license suspension until the driver’s 18th birthday, at which time a fee will be assessed and a retest will be mandatory.
- Not drive any non-family member passengers under 20 years old within the first six months of Level II status.
- Not drive more than one non-family member passenger under 20 years old during the second six months of Level II status.
- Drive with a supervising adult between 10 p.m. and 5 a.m. unless driving during or immediately after employment, a school or religious activity, or an emergency situation.
- Consume no alcohol.
- Not use a cell phone to call or send text messages while driving, punishable as a primary offense.
Level III drivers have a full Class E license. Level III drivers must:
- Pay $2.50 per year until the driver’s 21st birthday, in addition to a $.50 motor fee.
- Have driven as a Level II driver for at least one year.
- Have a clean driving record for at least one year.
- Be between 17 and 21 years old, with a 30 day grace period.
- Consume no alcohol.
- Follow a system that deducts points for any violations.
People 18 years old and older who have never gotten a driver’s license must obtain a regular Class E Instruction Permit.
The Class E Instruction Permit:
- May be obtained for drivers 18 and older.
- Requires drivers to present a completed application as a first-time applicant.
- Requires a vision and written test.
- Requires that holders drive with a licensed driver 21 or older in the front seat.
- Expires after 90 days, with a possible one-time 90 day renewal.
- If not previously licensed at Level II or an equivalent, drivers must hold the Instruction Permit for a minimum of 30 days before taking the road skills test.
Once you meet the requirements for any instructional permit or level of license, visit any West Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles Regional Office or DMV Exam Center and apply for a driver license. Bring the following:
- Proof of U.S. citizenship. Citizenship forms can include:
- An original, unexpired Certificate of U.S. Citizenship with photograph.
- A U.S. birth certificate issued by the U.S., U.S. Department of State, or U.S. Military. This does not include a certificate issued by a hospital. If born in West Virginia, a certificate may be obtained through the West Virginia Department of Health and Human Resources. If born in another state, a certificate may be obtained through the National Center for Health Statistics.
- An original, current Certificate of Naturalization with photograph.
- An original, current West Virginia driver’s license with photograph that is unexpired or has been expired for no more than six months.
- An original, unexpired U.S. Military ID card.
- A U.S. Military Retiree Card or Uniform Service ID Privilege Card with photograph.
- An original, current U.S. passport with current photograph.
Proof of physical West Virginia residency. Proof of a West Virginia Post Office Box does not count. Residency forms can include:
- A utility bill no more than 60 days old that shows a WV address.
- A property tax bill or receipt that shows a WV address.
- A WV mortgage document or homeowner insurance document for a WV residence.
- A WV W-2 form no more than 18 months old and indicating the applicant’s name and WV address.
- A WV weapons permit with a WV residence address.
- A WV DMV registration card with valid WV residence address.
- A WV voter registration card with valid residence address.
- A WV homestead tax exemption with valid address.
- Proof of public assistance with a valid WV address.
- A residential rental or lease agreement with a valid WV address.
- Social Security Number
Driver’s Eligibility Certificate if under 18, obtainable by the driver’s school. If the school enrollment form includes a valid residence address, this also serves as one proof of residency. Two valid proofs of residency are required with this certificate if the address listed is a Post Office box. A diploma can be used instead of the certificate if the driver has graduated high school but is not yet 18. If not in school but under 18, a driver must show GED completion or proof of enrollment in a GED course.
Completing Driver Education
Public schools in West Virginia offer driver education programs to high school students who meet state requirements. Taking driver education early on can help instill good driving habits, which can lead to some of the best car insurance rates in West Virginia later down the road.
Knowing the Rules of the Road
West Virginia provides its rules of the road online. Obey these rules to qualify for the lowest auto insurance rates in West Virginia.
Know Your Rates
Auto insurance rates are calculated based on all licensed drivers in a household, even if they are not blood-related. The base rate that is used to evaluate all drivers is adjusted according to several factors, including:
- Age. Teenage drivers have higher rates of fatal and nonfatal crashes than non-teenage drivers. Teenagers are involved in three times as many fatal crashes as all other drivers who drive the same distance, according to the West Virginia Offices of the Insurance Commissioner’s 2011 survey. Teenage drivers are more likely to be at-fault in their crashes and more likely to have been speeding than crashes by other drivers.
- Gender. Studies have shown that women are involved in fewer collisions and traffic citations than men. For this reason, men typically are charged higher premiums.
- Driving record and claims history. Rates may go up after an accident or citation, depending upon factors including who was deemed at fault and whether it is the driver’s first violation or one of many. Too many violations in a specified time period can even result in cancellation of coverage.
- Driving frequency. Those who drive more will face higher premiums, while those who drive less will likely qualify for low cost car insurance in West Virginia.
Lower Your Rates
There are several factors that go into determining your insurance rate that you can’t control, such as age and gender. But you should speak with an insurance agent and find out exactly what your insurance plan will cover for the price you are paying so that you are getting the best price for the best coverage, as opposed to simply settling for the cheapest plan that may not offer much. Consider several companies before you choose the coverage that best meets your needs, and compare auto insurance rates in West Virginia. Remember to make sure that the company is permitted to do business in West Virginia. If you are suspicious about any insurance company, call the Office of the Insurance Commissioner at (304) 558-3386 or 1(800) 879-9842 to verify if any actions have been taken against that company.
Inquire about discounts that a company may offer but not advertise, such as discounts for young drivers with good grades, drivers who have completed a driver’s education or defensive driving course, and drivers with a history of accident-free driving.
In addition, pay attention to your other insurance plans. In some cases, medical insurance can overlap in coverage areas with your auto insurance plans.
Picking an Insurance Agent/Broker
Insurance agents with insurance companies aim to sell policies for commission. On the contrary, insurance brokers do not represent a company. Instead, they work with individual clients, assessing their clients’ needs and finding different insurance options to fit those needs. Like agents, however, they also receive a commission for the sales they make from different insurance companies. Both can help you find the best car insurance in West Virginia.
Whether you use an agent or broker, make sure that they are licensed with the Offices of the Insurance Commissioner. All insurance agencies and agents must be licensed to sell in West Virginia. In addition, you can request information from the Offices of the Insurance Commissioner about how many complaints have been filed against a particular agent or broker. The Office can also tell you how many times they have faced disciplinary actions.
The Offices of the Insurance Commissioner has a specialized Consumer Services division, which was put in place to answer consumer questions and address consumer complaints. This office also investigates disputes between a consumer and an insurance provider, and contacts the company on behalf of the consumer.
After an Accident
Accidents happen but there are certain steps drivers must take to be in accordance with the law and minimize damages after an accident. Pursuant to the West Virginia Code 17C- Article 4 provision called “Erin’s Law,” the driver of any vehicle involved in a crash that results in any kind of injury or death must stop at the scene immediately after the accident until they are cleared by law enforcement officials to leave. Any driver who does not stop after an accident resulting in death is guilty of a felony and is subject to a fine of up to $5,000 and/or imprisonment of one to five years. Any driver who does not stop in a crash that results in injury is guilty of a misdemeanor and can be punished by up to one year in prison and/or a $1,000 fine. All drivers who do not stop can lose driving privileges for one year. Drivers must also stop and stay at the scene of an accident if any damage is caused. Drivers are also required to provide all requested information pertaining to one’s driver’s license or insurance information to law enforcement and the drivers of other vehicles involved in the crash. Drivers must render aid or assistance as much as possible.
It is important and required by law to immediately notify law enforcement of any accident resulting in an injury, death, or property damage presumed to exceed $1,000. If there is no local police department, the county sheriff or West Virginia State Police must be contacted. The penalty for not reporting accidents to law enforcement can be steep, including suspension of a driver’s license.
In addition, you must also report the incident to your insurance company as soon as safely possible, following your particular company’s procedures for filing a claim. Be prepared to provide any information filed on a police or law enforcement accident report, and prepare a copy of the report to send to your insurance provider. If your collision involved another driver, you must obtain their name, address, phone number, insurance information, driver’s license number, and the make and model of the car they were driving during the collision, even if they have no car insurance in West Virginia. You should also be prepared to report the extent of the damage to both cars, what occurred during the accident, and the names and contact information of any witnesses at the scene.
Your insurance company will evaluate your claim and assess damages within a period of time specified in your policy. Your insurance company may seek subrogation, which occurs when someone else was at fault for an accident you were in. Your insurance will cover the costs of any medical or repair bills you had, but your insurance will then reach out to the at-fault driver’s insurance company for compensation. During this process, it is best to fully cooperate with your insurance company to ensure that this process goes smoothly. If you plan to settle with the at-fault driver or their insurance company, be sure to notify your insurance company.
Insurance for High-Risk Drivers
Your driving record may prevent you from receiving insurance coverage, especially if you have accidents, tickets, or drunk driving on your record. However, the state of West Virginia makes it possible for every driver to find insurance opportunities by offering insurance through the West Virginia Assigned Risk Plan, or the Auto Insurance Plan Services Office, known as AIPSO. The state recommends that insurance through this plan be a last resort because its premiums are much higher than the average cost of car insurance in West Virginia. Comprehensive and collision coverage is available, subject to a deductible, but cannot be purchased separately from
liability insurance. Non-owned vehicles in which you have an insurable interest as well as commercial vehicles may also be insured with AIPSO.
You may also be asked to provide a SR 22 form from the Department of Licensing if you were caught driving without insurance, caught driving under the influence, cause an accident without insurance, have too many traffic violations and tickets within a short time span, or have had your license suspended or revoked. Your insurance company should do this for you, but not all companies provide this service. Therefore, be sure that the insurance company you pick provides this for you if you are required to hold the SR 22 form.
The West Virginia Offices of the Insurance Commissioner offers assistance to consumers seeking insurance advice. They will answer inquiries related to insurance, look into complaints with specific agencies, agents, or brokers, educate consumers on insurance law and procedures, and enforce insurance law on the consumer’s behalf if needed. You can contact them at (304) 558-3386 or 1(800) 879-9842.