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Is it Possible To Get Cheap Auto Insurance in VA?

The Cheapest Car Insurance Is No Car Insurance?!

Believe it or not, the Commonwealth of Virginia allows its Department of Motor Vehicles to register uninsured drivers. In fact, licensed drivers can drive legally in the Old Dominion State just by paying their DMV registration fees and a $500 uninsured motor vehicle (UMV) fee, which is valid for 12 months—no liability protection required. So, the cheapest way to hit the road in Virginia is to just pay the per-year UMV fee.

Note, however, that the per-year $500 UMV fee does not provide the uninsured motorist with any protection. Needless to say, a UMV driver's first and only at-fault accident could lead to that driver's financial ruin. You could lose your home and the shirt off your back.

No Virginia Car Insurance: Disaster Ahead

Since the per-year UMV fee doesn't give the at-fault driver any coverage, the at-fault driver is personally on the hook for any costs resulting from an accident, including the expense of totaled cars, bodily injury, long hospital stays, protracted court battles and funeral services. The potential costs are staggering.

Virginia residents can visit SmartFinancial to find the cheapest per-year auto insurance rates without paying a fee. Using artificial intelligence, machine learning and powerful algorithms, SmartFinancial scours real-time quotes to find the cheapest policy to meet your budget and coverage needs. To get free quotes on cheap auto protection in Virginia, just type in your zip code and answer some questions or call 855-214-2291 to speak one-on-one with a SmartFinancial agent.

What Could Be Worse Than No Auto Insurance?

Not paying the per-year $500 UMV fee would be an even worse move than paying the fee but retaining no liability protection. If you do not pay the per-year UMV fee but choose to get behind the wheel anyway, you could face the following penalties, even if you are not involved in even a minor fender-bender:

  • Suspension of driver's license
  • Denial of the right to register a vehicle
  • A $600 non-compliance fee
  • A $45 reinstatement fee
  • Requirement to file an SR-22 form (about $25) for three years

What's an SR 22?

Costing about $25 per year for each of the three years it is required, the SR-22 form provides legal proof that you, in fact, have liability coverage. Eligible vehicle owners may enter into a payment plan program to pay the statutory fee over time.

Drivers who must file a per-year SR-22 are often saddled with auto protection that is much more costly than the average auto policies. If you cancel your policy, your insurance company will notify the Virginia DMV of that fact. In that case, you must deactivate your license plates.

The Cheapest Coverage Is the State-Mandated Minimum Auto Insurance Coverage

While Virginia has the per-year UMV fee—South Carolina is the only other state to offer such a loophole—the per-year UMV fee should only be seen as a last-resort this-is-crazy-I-can't-believe-we're-doing-this stop-gap solution.

Every state has its own per-year minimum requirements for auto coverage, and the state of Virginia is no different when it comes to auto insurance coverage. Licensed drivers who purchase the commonwealth-mandated per-year bare-bones protection will pay only per-year bare-bones rates for car insurance in Virginia.

What if I Have Bad Credit?

Even if you have poor credit or a terrible credit score, SmartFinancial can help you find the best coverage in Virginia—that is, the best per-year auto insurance for the minimum per-year coverage limits. SmartFinancial uses real-time raw data to track down the best rates for coverage in Virginia from Liberty Mutual, Travelers, State Farm, Eirie, Virginia Farm Bureau and other firms. Before Virginia drivers find the best car insurance, they must shop around.

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Insurance Virginia: Minimum Coverage

Auto coverage in Virginia must include a per-year policy for $25,000 per person for bodily injury or death as the result of an at-fault accident, a two-or-more-person $50,000 per-year policy for bodily injury or death as the result of an at-fault accident and a per-year policy for up to $20,000 in property damage as the result of an at-fault accident. 

  • Bodily injury or death of one person ($25,000) 
  • Bodily injury or death of two or more persons ($50,000) 
  • Property damage ($20,000) 

Minimum Car Insurance Requirements Virginia

If you cannot afford this per-year minimum coverage for whatever reason, you must pay the per-year $500 UMV fee if you want to drive legally in Virginia. 

Insurance Discounts to Lower Costs

A policy's monthly rate can be lowered if the policyholder or the policyholder's car possesses certain risk-lowering characteristics. Most carriers offer multi-policy and multi-vehicle discounts. Here are some of the other common discounts for which you may be eligible:

  • Anti-lock brakes
  • Anti-theft devices
  • Automatic or paperless billing
  • Defensive driving course
  • Early signing
  • Full payment
  • Good student
  • Green vehicle
  • Low annual mileage
  • Military service
  • Safe or accident-free record

Find out what discounts a company authorizes and whether they apply to your case. In many cases, these small savings add up to one big per-year discount.

Why Rates for Car Insurance in Virginia Vary: Different Firms

It is important to remember that every insurance company calculates risk in a different way. All carriers use their own individual proprietary algorithms, and each algorithm puts a slightly different weight on each pertinent risk factor. Further, each of these companies has its own mountain of raw data.

So, every firm's average rates are necessarily different from every other firm's average rates. When each company has its own unique algorithm to interpret its own set of raw data, how could it be otherwise? Not only that, individual rates are constantly moving up and down, so it pays to shop around to get cheap (and maybe even the cheapest) car coverage.

Why Virginia Car Insurance Rates Vary: Different Drivers

Every provider will quote different rates to different drivers because every driver is different. Most companies will ask you about your car's make and model as well as your age, gender, driving record, place of residence and a host of other factors.

A 50-year-old woman with a clean driving record who travels 100 miles per month in her station wagon in rural Alabama will be paying much less than a 25-year-old man one DUI who travels 500 miles per month in his sports car in downtown Philadelphia. Virginia's rates also vary by zip code.

Does Poor Credit or Bad Credit Affect Per-Year Insurance Rates in Virginia?

If you are looking for cheap car insurance, Virginia has plenty of insurance firms—this healthy market competition makes cheap car insurance possible. But if you have poor credit or bad credit in the Old Dominion State, your insurance rates will not be as cheap as the insurance customer with good or excellent credit.

That's because the Commonwealth of Virginia allows insurance companies to ascertain and apply your credit score when calculating your per-year auto insurance rate. In fact, a few states—California, Hawaii, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Oregon and Utah—forbid insurance companies from even considering a customer's credit score when calculating that customer's per-year policy. 

The good news? Most insurance carriers look at an individual's credit score only over the past five years, so a licensed driver with poor credit or bad credit can make up a lot of bad road by paying their bills on time for five years. The better your credit, the cheaper your car insurance.

SmartFinancial's List of the Top 20 Cheapest Car Insurance Rates in Virginia

Using its cutting-edge proprietary technology, SmartFinancial has tracked down the 20 car insurance companies with the cheapest car insurance in Virginia. These monthly insurance rates cover the state-mandated minimum liability, including bodily injury and property damage. Of course, insurance rates change hourly and from individual to individual, so the following rates are not set in stone.

Company Average Per-Month Rate
USAA$88.26
Utica National$91.61
State Farm$95.36
Erie$96.83
Virginia Farm Bureau $96.94
Penn National $96.99
Auto-Owners Insurance$112.94
Alfa$129.33
Mercury$132.84
Direct Auto$135.33
Nationwide$143.73
Chubb$148.93
Cincinnati Insurance$158.38
Safe Auto$175.58
Donegal Mutual$187.50
Encompass$187.52
Metropolitan $189.31
National Grange Mutual $190.99
Allstate$192.08
Allied$192.70

So, in this example, if you purchased minimum coverage from USAA, you would be paying a mere $1,059.12 for your per-year auto insurance costs. You would also be protecting your family, your financial strength and your peace of mind. Keep in mind that you have to be a military family member to buy USAA car insurance.

Why Does Location Affect Insurance Rates?

When insurance companies calculate risk, the location of your house and the location of your car's regular parking spots are key factors in determining the likelihood of certain unhappy outcomes, including damage from accidents, Mother Nature, DUI drivers, vandalism and theft.

Of course, drivers are more likely to have a fender-bender in a densely populated area with a high concentration of motor vehicles than drivers who live in sparsely populated areas with a correspondingly low number of cars on the road.

Location Matters: California vs. Wyoming

For example, California has 27,213,650 licensed drivers on 394,383 miles of road, whereas Wyoming has just 424,115 drivers on 33,000 miles of road. Theoretically, that means for every mile of road, California has 69 cars per mile and Wyoming has 12.8 cars per mile.

To break it down even further, the above statistics mean that California has 539% more drivers than in Wyoming, which translates to California having 439% more drivers per mile than Wyoming. Or, to say it another way, Wyoming has 19% the number of drivers per mile compared to California. A big difference, to say the least!

Drivers in California pay higher insurance rates than drivers in Wyoming because the likelihood of having an accident is higher in California due to the state's higher density of cars on the road. In the same way, Virginia residents who live in rural, sparsely populated areas have cheap car insurance compared to Virginia residents who live in densely populated urban areas.

SmartFinancial's Top 10 Virginia Cities with the Cheapest Car Insurance Rates

An insurance company weighs many factors when calculating risk. For example, an insurance company will look at your car's make and model as well as your age, gender, driving record and credit score. That insurance company will also consider your zip code—that is, where you reside and where your vehicle is garaged.

Using its AI-focused technology, SmartFinancial has tracked down the 10 cities with the cheapest car insurance, on average, based on zip code. Of course, insurance rates vary from day to day and person to person, so the quotes below may change.

CityAverage Per-Month Rate
Winchester$78.75
Danville$79.33
Charlottesville$79.53
Harrisonburg$80.23
Roanoke$80.25
Williamsburg$83.04
Herndon$83.05
Hopewell$84.56
Lynchburg$86.01
Petersburg$86.09


Cheapest Car Insurance Rates in Virginia

Car insurance in Virginia is a lot cheaper than in other states, and Virginia drivers who live in Winchester, Virginia, may well have a leg up on the cheapest per-year car insurance in Virginia.

SmartFinancial's Top 10 Virginia Cities with the Most Expensive Car Insurance Rates

Keeping in mind that the average car insurance rate in Virginia is $96, let's look at the top 10 cities in Virginia that have, on average, the highest insurance rates.

CityAverage Per-Month Rate
Woodbridge$113.67
Alexandria$109.11
Midlothian$105.41
Hampton$104.64
Norfolk$103.79
Chester$102.52
Manassas$100.92
Richmond$100.15
Ashburn$99.73
Springfield$99.17

Most Expensive Car Insurance Rates in Virginia

With many office positions now transitioning to become work-at-home positions, many insurance customers could afford to move house and make the same amount of money while living in a less pricey area, insurance-wise.

Working with more than 2,000 insurance agents in Virginia, SmartFinancial can help you find cheap insurance coverage in Virginia, whether you have poor credit, a spotty driving record, a DUI or young drivers in your household.

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A Closer Look at Five Insurance Companies

In this next section, we'll take an up-close and personal look at five different insurance companies: Virginia Farm Bureau, State Farm, Travelers, Nationwide and Erie.

Virginia Farm Bureau Insurance

Virginia Farm Bureau Insurance has been selling auto insurance to drivers in Virginia since 1950. Virginia Farm Bureau Insurance offers per-year car insurance as well as per-year motor-home, RV, motorcycle and boat insurance in Virginia. Drivers in Virginia need coverage in Virginia, so why not check out Virginia Farm Bureau Insurance?

When drivers in Virginia choose Virginia Farm Bureau Insurance as their insurance company, they will not only receive personalized local service, exclusive deals and savings, and account access from anywhere, they will also be supporting Virginia agriculture.

Virginia Farm Bureau: Coverage Options

Virginia Farm Bureau Insurance offers competitive per-year car insurance rates for the state-mandated per-year minimum coverage, including per-person bodily injury liability, per-accident bodily injury liability and per-accident property damage. But the Richmond-based firm provides other types of insurance for Virginia drivers. Besides offering full coverage (collision and comprehensive) and uninsured-motorist protection, Virginia Farm Bureau Insurance offers the following types of add-on coverage:

  • Towing and labor
  • Quest-powered roadside assistance
  • Rideshare coverage
  • Replacement coverage for a new vehicle.
  • Accident forgiveness
  • Electronic equipment protection
  • A medical expense benefit

Virginia Farm Bureau: Discounts

The Virginia Farm Bureau offers many discounts. For instance, young drivers can be eligible for teen driver discounts. Virginia Farm Bureau Insurance also offers discounts for a safe driving record, saving you up to 5% a year.

New policyholders with a safe driving record can get a Virginia Farm Bureau discount of up to 25%. If your car has anti-lock brakes and certain other safety features, Virginia Farm Bureau Insurance could save you up to 30% on your auto insurance.

State Farm Insurance Company

Founded in 1922 and headquartered in Bloomington, Ill., State Farm offers liability coverage that meets the per-year requirements in Virginia. Besides fulfilling the per-year minimum coverage for Virginia, State Farm also has a mobile app, personal online account management, roadside assistance, enhanced towing and substitute coverage, loyalty rewards and flexible payment options.

If you are a 45-year-old Virginia resident with a spotless driving record looking for full coverage per-year insurance—that is, Virginia's minimum coverage insurance requirements, plus collision and comprehensive—a State Farm policy would cost about $1,500 per year.

State Farm: "Drive Safe & Save" Discount

State Farm offers programs that can save you money on your per-year rates, whether you have an accident or a DUI on your record or bad credit. For example, State Farm's Drive Safe & Save program uses Bluetooth and location services to automatically monitor your driving. The better you drive, the lower your insurance costs. The Drive Safe & Save program could save Virginians up to 30%.

State Farm: "Steer Clear" Discount

State Farm's Steer Clear initiative helps young drivers save up to 15% on their State Farm rates. To qualify for the State Farm program, you must meet the following criteria.

  • Be under age 25
  • Have a valid driver's license.
  • No at-fault accidents or moving violations during the past three years
  • Successfully complete five training modules, which consist of videos, driving scenarios, quizzes and other exercises
  • Successfully complete five hours of driving on at least 10 trips

The State Farm program also has a mentoring component: By using the mentor log-in, family members and friends can track a young driver's progress and provide feedback.

To qualify for the Steer Clear discount, the Steer Clear participant just needs to send their in-app certificate of completion to their State Farm representative. The Steer Clear program can lower the average rates of young drivers.

State Farm: More Discounts

One of the largest risk-and-mitigation companies in the U.S., State Farm offers drivers plenty of other discounts, even if they're signing up for only the per-person and per-accident liability minimum for Virginia car insurance. For example, State Farm offers drivers discounts for multiple cars and multiple insurance policies. Here are some more reasons State Farm may offer some drivers a discount:

  • Being a good driver
  • Having no accidents on your record
  • Being a good student
  • Being a student away at school
  • Driving a safe vehicle
  • Having airbags and motorized seat belts
  • Having anti-theft devices in your car

Travelers Insurance

Drivers in Virginia who are looking for per-year car protection might take a look at Travelers. If you are looking for car insurance in Virginia, Travelers may turn out to have not only the cheapest car insurance but also the best car insurance. Either way, Travelers has the financial strength to back up claims from drivers in Virginia.

Travelers offers per-person and per-accident liability insurance that satisfies the car insurance requirements for drivers in Virginia. In fact, Travelers claims its average rates could save drivers more than $500 per year, if qualified.

Travelers: Discounts

While offering per-year minimum liability and per-year full coverage Virginia car insurance for drivers in Virginia, Travelers has many discounts. Drivers in Virginia who seek car insurance in Virginia could benefit from a discount on their Travelers' Virginia auto insurance. Even if you have poor credit or a DUI, ask your agent about these discounts:

  • For driver training
  • For being a good student
  • For driving a hybrid-electric auto
  • For having a student away at college

Of course, like other insurance companies that advertise cheap car insurance, Travelers offers multi-car and multi-policy discounts.

Nationwide Insurance Company

The cheapest Virginia auto insurance is the state-mandated per-year minimum coverage:

  • A per-year policy for $25,000 per person for bodily injury or death as the result of an at-fault accident
  • A two-or-more-person $50,000 per-year policy for bodily injury or death as the result of an at-fault accident
  • A per-year policy for up to $20,000 in property damage as the result of an at-fault accident. 

But savvy drivers in Virginia usually end up getting "full coverage" insurance. Like all insurance companies, Nationwide is prepared to back your coverage limits.

Nationwide: Discounts

Nationwide offers vehicle insurance for cars as well as motorcycles, snowmobiles, classic automobiles, ATVs, RVs, boats, personal watercraft and scooters. Furthermore, if you're a 21-year-old with good credit, a 31-year-0ld with not-so-good credit, a 41-year-old with a DUI or a 51-year-old with a 51-year-old car, you should ask about Nationwide's discounts. For example, the company claims that, on average per year, drivers will receive a $646 discount when they bundle their home and car insurance.

Nationwide: "SmartRide" Discount

Nationwide's SmartRide initiative is a usage-based program that helps drivers manage their mileage, even going so far as to offer individualized feedback and tips for safer driving. The less you drive, the more of a discount you'll get—up to 25%, notes the company. Wait, there's more: When you sign up for SmartRide, you get an automatic 10% discount.

Nationwide: "SmartMiles" Discount

The SmartMiles program offers a two-part insurance structure: a per-year base rate and a variable rate. The variable rate is based on how many miles you drive per month, so the cost will vary from month to month.

The company gives an example. If a traditional per-year Nationwide policy would cost about $133 a month, a SmartMiles participant's cost might be only $95 a month. In this example, the SmartMiles base rate is $35 a month, while the SmartMiles flexible rate is $60. The flexible rate charges drivers about $.07 per mile. Just like the SmartRide discount, the SmartMiles discount is available whether you have full coverage or only minimum coverage insurance.

Nationwide: Tech-Friendly

The Better Business Bureau gives Nationwide an A+ rating. Founded in 1926, the 95-year-old company has kept up with the times. With Nationwide's iPhone and Android apps, Nationwide drivers have on-the-go access to individual account management. Indeed, Nationwide's mobile technology allows drivers to review their policies, view their insurance cards, pay their bills and even initiate an auto claim.

Erie Insurance Company

Founded in Erie, Pa., in 1925, this company's motto has remained the same: "The ERIE is above all in sERvIcE," which means you can't have "service" without "E-R-I-E". Ranking at No. 381 on the 2019 Fortune 500 list, the Erie Insurance Company has more than 5,000 employees and 12,000 independent agents. What's more, the Better Business Bureau has given the 96-year-old company an A+ rating.

Erie offers per-year policies that cover Virginia's minimum-insurance requirements as well as full coverage and other insurance products. Erie also offers insurance for multiple cars, classic cars, motorcycles, RVs, boats, off-road vehicles and mobile homes. Remember that rates change, so Erie might have cheap insurance compared to average rates on Monday, but it might have the cheapest insurance compared to average rates on Friday.

Erie: Discounts

Drivers in Virginia—even drivers with poor credit, an at-fault accident or a DUI—have many auto insurance companies from which to choose. Some insurance shoppers find that Erie has per-year discounts that add up to the cheapest and best auto insurance for their needs.

For example, Erie locks in your per-year auto insurance rate, so your premium won't change unless you add or remove drivers or cars.

To get your cost below the average car insurance rates, Erie also provides per-year multi-policy discounts from 16% to 25%, depending on your state. For example, a one-car policy may cost, on average, $140, but a two-car policy may cost, on average, only $137.26.

Erie: More Discounts

Further, Erie has a diminishing deductible, which is a kind of coverage that reduces your per-year deductible by $100 for every consecutive claims-free per-year policy, up to a maximum of $500.

If you own your own home, Erie might have a discount for you. Drivers who rent their home or an apartment may pay, for example, $146.17, but drivers who own their own home may pay as little as $120.48 per month for the same policy.

Erie: Even More Discounts

Like many insurance companies, Erie offers multi-policy discounts. So, if you have more than one car on the same policy, you could get a discount. If you have an Erie home insurance policy and an Erie car insurance policy, you could get a discount.

Erie has other discounts, too, including discounts for driver training, new vehicles, safety features, teen drivers, student drivers and reduced mileage. You can even get a discount by paying your per-year insurance bill all at once.

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Which Insurance Company Is Right for You? 

So far, we've covered just five insurance companies: Virginia Farm Bureau Insurance, State Farm, Travelers, Nationwide and Erie. But the state of Virginia has at least 50 car insurance companies!

Finding cheap car insurance can be a real headache when researching just five insurance firms, never mind 25. When you do compare different insurance firms, it is crucial to make apples-to-apples comparisons. For example, you cannot compare State Farm's average rates for a 2021 Ferrari with Nationwide's average rates for a 2019 Honda Civic. That's not a fair comparison.

In the same way, when you compare insurance companies, you have to judge each firm against the exact same criteria. SmartFinancial makes this process easier because its proprietary, AI-powered knowledge technology provides a gold-standard criteria by which to judge. So instead of researching just two or three or even five insurance firms all by yourself, let SmartFinancial do the research for you by methodically sifting through every insurance provider in Virginia. Sure, SmartFinancial will help you save money by getting cheap car insurance, but think of the time you'll save.

How To Find Cheap Car Insurance in Virginia

 In order to find the cheapest car insurance in Virginia, you have to shop around for car insurance quotes from different car insurance companies. All car insurance firms mitigate risk by measuring risk, but not all car insurance companies measure the same risks in the same way.

Rates not only differ based on risk, but they change daily. It pays to compare companies too. For instance,  some insurance carriers specialize in helping Virginia drivers who are young drivers or who have a poor driving history, a DUI conviction, poor credit or recent at-fault accident. These companies will offer better rates if this is your profile.

Virginia Drivers Should Consider Full Coverage  

Of course, getting only the minimum coverage in Virginia may cost you more in the long run than paying a little more for extended coverage. For example, the minimum coverage in Virginia will not pay for damages to your car.

That's why savvy shoppers for car insurance in Virginia consider full coverage auto protection. Full coverage protection comprises collision coverage and comprehensive coverage. 

What Is Full Coverage Insurance?

"Full coverage" insurance includes both collision protection and comprehensive protection. While liability insurance covers damage to anything but your own car in the event of an accident, collision and comprehensive pay for any damage inflicted upon your car up to the value of that car.

Collision coverage pays for damages to your car when your car hits something (a tree, for instance), and comprehensive coverage pays for damages to your car when something hits your car (a tree, for instance). Many drivers—and all the insurance firms—think full coverage protection is the cheapest and best auto insurance in the long run.

But it's always important to remember that while one customer may get the cheapest full coverage insurance quotes from, say, Liberty Mutual, another customer may not get the cheapest full coverage insurance quotes from Liberty Mutual. Then again, some customers want the most amount of coverage, not the cheapest.If you are looking for full coverage protection, you should investigate as many companies as possible. Some companies' full coverage policies will be outside your budget, so find the companies that have policies within your budget.

Full Coverage Is Not Required by the Commonwealth of Virginia

It is important for drivers to remember that full coverage protection is merely add-on insurance—that is, collision and comprehensive are not requirements in Virginia. All drivers in Virginia must purchase the bare-bones liability coverage:

  • Bodily injury or death of one person ($25,000) 
  • Bodily injury or death of two or more persons ($50,000) 
  • Property damage ($20,000) 

While the above amounts are the per-year minimum requirements in Virginia, an insurance customer could always opt to purchase more coverage in these three areas—for example, some folks might decide they want not $50,000 but $100,000 worth of coverage in the event of per-accident bodily injury or death of two or more persons.

For some drivers looking for coverage in Virginia, their "best" car insurance may cost slightly more than the average rates. For other drivers, their "best" car insurance may costs slightly less than the average rates. While all drivers must get liability coverage, the smartest drivers know that the best car insurance includes full coverage.

The Cheapest Insurance for Commercial Drivers

If you are looking for the cheapest commercial auto insurance in Virginia, you should buy multiple policies. By bundling your auto insurance, business liability and any other type of insurance your business requires, you could get a lower rate.

Another way to secure the cheapest commercial auto insurance is to raise your deductible. By raising your per-accident deductible, you will lower your monthly insurance premium.

You can also find the cheapest commercial auto insurance is to hire drivers that have a commercial driver's license and a clean driving history. Businesses that hire these best-in-class drivers can save up to 20% on their insurance costs.

Any business looking for the cheapest commercial auto insurance should probably investigate surety bonds, or self-insurance. Surety bonds are specialized options for owners of business vehicles. Every Virginia DMV office has information on surety bonds.

An Eco-Friendly Vehicle Saves Money

The Commonwealth of Virginia offers tax incentives to promote eco-friendly vehicles. For example, Virginia drivers with vehicles that use compressed natural gas, solar energy, electricity or liquefied gas may be exempt from the emissions test required for vehicle registration, which is a tax. Further, the exemption may apply to motorcycles, qualified hybrid vehicles and some diesel vehicles. For more information, consult the Department of Motor Vehicles.

Further, owners of qualified clean-fuel vehicles can apply for a "clean special fuel vehicle" license plate through the DMV. With this license plate, a driver can travel on certain HOV lanes, regardless of how many passengers. Note that vehicles must run on only one or more types of clean fuel.

Commonwealth of Virginia and the federal government provide 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, diesel, and other AFVs. For more information, consult your tax specialist or contact the Virginia Department of Taxation.

A DUI in Virginia Will Raise Your Rates

If you are 21 years old or older, the legal blood alcohol concentration (BAC) limit is .08%. The BAC limits are even lower for commercial drivers (.04%) and drivers under 21 years old (.02%).

But Virginia law enforcement can convict you of a DUI—or "driving under the influence," sometimes called "driving while intoxicated" (DWI)—even when your BAC has not resulted in flagrant impairment. According to the Virginia DMV, "You may be charged with drinking while operating a motor vehicle if you are stopped by law enforcement and you have an open container of alcohol in the passenger area, the contents of which have been partially removed, and you exhibit signs that you have been drinking." Moreover, you can be found guilty of a DUI when "sleeping it off" in your vehicle, even when your car key isn't even in the ignition. Sounds harsh, but that's what zero tolerance for drunk driving looks like.

In fact, all insurance firms have zero tolerance for driving under the influence, whether that influence is wine, beer or spirits or illegal substances or over-the-counter drugs. And since DUI activities are so potentially catastrophic, all insurance firms will charge a DUI-convicted driver more for per-year insurance than a driver with a clean record.

A DUI in Virginia Will Bring Legal Penalties

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), "Every day, about 28 people in the United States die in drunk-driving crashes," which is one death every 52 minutes. In 2019, fatal drunk-driving incidences reached an almost 30-year low, but 10,142 people still lost their lives due to drinking and driving. Sadly, every single one of these deaths could have been avoided.

In Virginia, the penalties for a first DUI offense include tickets, DMV demerit points, fines, court costs, hours and hours of community service, suspension of your driver's license, revocation of your driver's license, confiscation of your car, and jail time. (In fact, a high BAC or DUI conviction while transporting a minor will result in state-mandated jail time.) The court may also direct some drivers to enroll in the Virginia Alcohol Safety Action Program.

You could also be subject to ignition interlock installation. That's when a breathalyzer-like device is installed in your car—at your own expense—making it impossible to start your car with a BAC over the legal limit.

A DUI conviction will result in a criminal record, a mark on your driving record, and impact your insurance rates for years to come.

Uninsured/Underinsured Coverage

No matter how cheap car insurance rates get in the Old Dominion State, uninsured/underinsured motorist insurance protects you against per-accident personal injury when you're in an accident with a motorist who does not have any or enough insurance coverage. Uninsured/underinsured insurance also protects you if you experience an accident with a hit-and-run driver.

About 10% of Commonwealth of Virginia drivers have zero insurance. Which means that if and when you have an accident, there's a one in 10 chance the other driver will be uninsured, never mind underinsured. The cost of a weekend hospital stay is enough to warrant uninsured/underinsured coverage.

Car accidents in Virginia can be extremely expensive, too. According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, fatal accidents in 2018 cost $1.31 billion in the commonwealth.

Uninsured/Underinsured Coverage Minimums

According to the Commonwealth of Virginia and the Virginia DMV, "Mandatory uninsured motorist coverage is another feature of Virginia's uninsured motorist laws. Under this provision of the law, all bodily injury and property damage liability insurance policies written by companies licensed to do business in the Commonwealth are required to include uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage."

The state requires these basic minimums for uninsured and underinsured insurance:

  • Uninsured motorist bodily injury: $25,000 per person, up to $50,000 per accident
  • Uninsured motorist property damage: $20,000 per accident
  • Underinsured motorist bodily injury: $25,000 per person, up to $50,000 per accident
  • Underinsured motorist property damage: $20,000 per accident
  • Uninsured Drivers on the Road: 10%

Many Virginia drivers take on uninsured/underinsured motorist protection as a way of mitigating catastrophic risk. But the best auto insurance for one person is not necessarily the best auto insurance for another.

15 Ways To Lower Your Car Insurance in Virginia

There are steps Virginia drivers can take to lower the cost of their insurance. If you follow these 15 suggestions, you will lower your insurance rate.

  1.  Take a driver education course
  2.  Take a defensive driving course
  3.  Improve your credit score
  4.  Get a different, less risky car
  5.  Install an anti-theft device in your car
  6.  Drive fewer miles
  7.  Reduce your daily commute
  8.  Bundle your auto insurance with other insurance for a multi-policy discount
  9.  Bundle your auto insurance with a spouse's or family member's auto insurance
  10.  Avoid accidents and tickets by obeying the traffic laws
  11.  Pay off your car note or loan
  12.  Prepay your policy
  13.  Move out of your zip code
  14.  Sign up for autopay
  15.  Compare rates with SmartFinancial. Begin by entering your zip code below.

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