The Commonwealth of Virginia is one of the 13 original colonies, and the state’s historical monuments and museums offer many reasons to hit the road and explore. But every time you get into your car, you put yourself at risk for financial ruin if you don’t have adequate car insurance.
Getting the right coverage levels requires knowing your state’s minimum insurance requirements and understanding optional coverages. And, to get the perfect policy, you need someone on your side to show you where to save money without compromising your security.
The good news is that Virginia has some of the lowest average premiums in the U.S. The better news is that SmartFinanacial’s carrier-neutral information helps you efficiently hone in on the perfect auto insurance policy for your needs at lower-than-average rates—all for free!
When looking for car insurance, compare multiple carriers to find the best combination of quality coverage and affordable rates. To make getting started a little easier for you, here are the top three carriers in Virginia, based on rankings from J.D. Power (see the full list).
Insurance isn’t a one-size-fits-all industry. Take a close look at each carrier’s affordability, policy flexibility, payment options, customer satisfaction scores, and rejected claims rates. SmartFinancial lets you compare quotes on the right coverage for you and your family.
Take it for a test drive or get shopping now by choosing your city below. Or, if it isn’t appearing in the list, click here.
Auto insurance is a necessity, even if it’s not legally required in Virginia. If you’re ever involved in an accident, you’ll be thankful for the financial protection car insurance provides. You may think your savings are enough to cover any liability you’ll face if you injure someone in a crash, but legal bills, property damage, and medical expenses add up quickly, and they can leave you bankrupt if you’re not covered.
Virginia Driving Safety
You can’t control the actions of other drivers, or the conditions you experience on the road. Because of this, it makes sense to carry as much auto insurance as you can afford, even if you don’t think you’ll need it.
For example, some leading causes of motor vehicle crashes in Virginia are speeding, distracted driving, and poor road conditions. Driving under the influence of drugs and alcohol also contributes to many crashes, but these rates are on the decline in Virginia. Let’s look at some important safety statistics for the state below.
Find more motor vehicle safety data for Virginia in the 2015 Virginia Traffic Crash Facts (PDF).
In addition to savings on your car insurance, choosing to go green in Virginia can mean big savings on your taxes. You may also qualify for other incentives. Of course, there’s no greater benefit than helping to save the planet.
Certain parts of Northern Virginia require emissions testing, but the State offers exemptions for drivers of eco-friendly vehicles. If you drive one that uses compressed natural gas, solar energy, electricity, or liquefied gas, or if you drive a qualified hybrid, certain diesel-powered vehicles, or a motorcycle, you may be exempt from the emissions test required for vehicle registration. For more information, consult the Department of Motor Vehicles.
Drivers of qualified clean-fuel vehicles in Virginia may apply for a clean special fuel vehicle license plate through the state DMV. This license plate allows you to use certain high occupancy lanes, regardless of how many passengers you carry. To qualify, vehicles must run exclusively on one or more clean fuel types, such as compressed natural gas, ethane, methane, electricity, hydrogen, solar, liquefied natural gas, liquefied petroleum gas, hythane, or hybrid gasoline/electric.
Both the Federal government and the State offer tax breaks for alternative fuels and alternative fuel vehicles (AFVs). Virginia exempts alternative fuel from taxes when it’s sold and delivered to a government entity or to a nonprofit charitable organization, or when it’s produced for exclusive use in an agricultural operation. Federal tax credits may be available for drivers of electric cars, hybrids, plug-in hybrids, diesels, and other AFVs. For answers to questions on these tax incentives, please consult your tax professional or contact the Virginia Department of Taxation.
Virginia drivers are not required to carry automobile insurance. Vehicle owners can instead opt to pay $500 to the Department of Motor Vehicles. Failure to insure your vehicle or pay this uninsured motor vehicle (UMV) fee is a Class 3 misdemeanor and is punishable by fines up to $500.
If you choose to insure your vehicle, Virginia requires at least $25,000 of bodily injury liability coverage per person and $50,000 of bodily injury coverage per accident. Additionally, you have to take out a minimum of $20,000 in property damage liability and carry uninsured motorist insurance in the same amounts as above.
Because Virginia an at-fault state, your liability insurance pays only if you (or the driver of your car) was at fault in an accident. Otherwise, you may file a claim through your carrier or the at-fault party’s carrier, and you may file a personal injury lawsuit.
Maximum payment for serious injury or death to a single person
Maximum payment for serious injury or death to more than one person
Maximum payment for all damaged property in an accident caused by you
Virginia has a competitive rating law, which means different insurance companies charge different rates for the same coverage. Choosing your insurance provider involves more than just price, though. You need to look for the quality coverage, a variety of discounts, positive customer satisfaction scores, and a good claims history.
Also, higher-than-minimum coverage is a smart investment in financial protection against serious accidents, when minimum limits may not be enough. Adding optional coverages to your policy is another way to get a greater return out of your insurance, as there are many things that standard liability coverage doesn’t pay for.
If you cause a motor vehicle accident in Virginia, you may be held responsible for any losses experienced by others involved in the crash. If you’re unable to pay for the property damage, medical expenses, lost wages, and other costs associated with the accident, a lawsuit may be filed against you. The financial consequences of this scenario can be devastating.
Plus, the more you own, the greater your loss may be; your home, savings, future wages, and other assets may be taken to cover your debt. Carrying adequate liability insurance protects you from this fate. The more you have to protect, the more insurance you should carry.
Not sure you can take on the added cost of optional coverages? Check out our post 12 Things You can Do to Lower Your Auto Insurance Premium and get some ideas for how to balance things out.
*This list of car insurance carriers is based on the ratings for the Mid-Atlantic region in the J.D. Power 2016 U.S. Auto Insurance Study. Ratings are derived from five key service areas: claims, price, interaction, policy offerings, and billing. USAA is a military-only option and is therefore not including in the above rankings.
Virginia mandates that all children ride in a child restraint device until their 8th birthday. There is no weight or height requirement; the law is based solely on age. Child safety seats must be approved by the Department of Transportation and used properly according to manufacturer directions. This law applies to anyone who provides transportation for children.
It’s worth noting, though, that it’s much safer to make sure a kid can be properly secured with the vehicle’s seat belts before discontinuing use of an appropriately rated booster seat. Usually, this happens at 4′ 9” tall, when the child can sit up straight with the lap belt going over the upper thighs and the shoulder belt crossing the shoulder and chest.
For safety reasons, rear-facing car seats should always be placed in the back seat of the car. If the vehicle does not have a back seat, the car seat may be placed in the front only if there is no airbag or if the airbag is deactivated. Children should ride rear-facing until they reach 1 year of age or exceed the weight limits specified by the safety seat’s manufacturer.
Children 8 through 17 years must be properly belted in the vehicle’s safety belt, unless they are riding in taxicabs, limousines, or school buses. Virginia law states that children are not allowed to ride unrestrained in the rear cargo area of vehicles.
In Virginia (and every other state), children left unattended in vehicles are at considerable risk of injury. Even when the outside temperatures are in the 70s, the temperature inside a vehicle can rise to dangerous levels within a matter of minutes. Even lower temperatures pose risks if the vehicle is parked in the sunlight. Children may suffer heat stroke, brain damage, and death because their bodies heat up three or more times faster than adult bodies. Pets are similarly in danger.
In Virginia, children 7 years old and under should not be left alone for any period of time, including in vehicles. If it is found that the environment poses a danger or the caretaker would be unable to intervene in the event of accident or injury, charges can be filed against the responsible adult.
Virginia offers civil immunity for rendering emergency care and forcible entry into a vehicle to remove a minor at risk of serious bodily injury or death, provided the person doing so has attempted to contact an emergency responder or called 911 prior to entry.
Yes, your credit score is a major factor when it comes to determining how much you pay for Virginia auto insurance. However, insurance companies cannot non-renew your policy based solely on your credit report.
If you or a family member has caused a motor vehicle crash or been cited for a moving violation, you may need to pay more for your auto insurance. Alternatively, if you qualify as a good driver, insurance companies may reward you with a discount on your premium. In Virginia, auto insurance premium increases due to violations or accidents may be applied for 3 years. Ask about qualifying for a good driver discount. And, while you’re talking to your agent, inquire about other discounts like:
Yes. Virginia motorists no longer have to worry about carrying paper or plastic ID cards in the glove compartment Proof of insurance can be shown digitally on a phone, tablet, or other mobile device.
If you own a vehicle in Virginia and fail to carry the minimum required insurance or have not paid the UMV fee, your driving and vehicle registration privileges will be suspended. To be reinstated, you must pay a $500 statutory fee, pay a reinstatement fee if applicable, and file a Financial Responsibility Insurance Certificate (SR-22) with the DMV for 3 years. The consequences are not worth a lapse in coverage.
It’s against the law to drive in Virginia at the following BAC percentages:
.08%+ at 21 years old or older
.04%+ for commercial vehicle drivers
.02%+ at under 21 years old
You can be convicted of driving under the influence in Virginia even if the amount of alcohol in your blood has not caused obvious impairment. Moreover, you can be convicted if your BAC is at or above 0.08% or you’re impaired and just sitting in your vehicle with the key in the ignition. Your vehicle does not need to be moving and your ignition can be in the “off” position and you can still be found guilty.
If you’re suspected of a DUI and refuse to submit to a chemical test in Virginia, the penalties may be harsh. Your refusal can be admitted as evidence at a criminal trial and constitutes grounds for revocation of your driver’s license. First refusal is a civil offense, but second and subsequent refusals are criminal offenses with possible jail time.
Driving while under the influence of alcohol or drugs in Virginia is a big mistake. Potential penalties for a first offense DUI in Virginia include fines, jail time, court costs, driver’s license revocation, ignition interlock installation for restricted licenses, enrollment in the Virginia Alcohol Safety Action Program (ASAP), and DMV demerit points. High BACs or conviction of a DUI while transporting a minor result in mandatory jail time.
Completion of a State-approved driver education course may qualify you for a reduced auto insurance premium. If you’re a young or elderly driver, the savings may be greater. Ask your insurer for more information on taking a driver improvement course.
Many insurance consumers fail to benefit from discounts simply because they never thought to ask their carrier about ways to save. You may be able to reduce your premium by installing or choosing a vehicle with automatic seat belts, airbags, and anti-theft devices. Maintaining a clean driving record and a satisfactory credit history are other things to focus on, and you can save big by choosing a higher deductible and by shopping around and comparing rates every time you renew your policy.
Uninsured motorist insurance protects you if you’re injured in an accident with a driver who does not have any or enough insurance coverage, or if you collide with a hit-and-run driver. Virginians who elect to insure their vehicle must purchase this type of coverage.
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