Before getting auto insurance in Vermont
Vermont is known for a lot of things — some of the best skiing in New England, excellent maple syrup, Bernie Sanders and some of the lowest average car insurance rates in the country.
Unless you’ve lived in multiple states, you might not know that each enforces its own laws and minimum requirements when it comes to auto insurance. Here’s what to expect when you get behind the wheel and out on Vermont’s winding mountain roads.
Average car insurance costs in Vermont
Vermont’s statewide averages for car insurance costs were right around $950 to $1,000 annually in 2017. In fact, only three states in the nation had lower average rates. The national average comes in at $1,300.
You’ll find quite a bit of cost differences across the state, though. For example, a driver in downtown Burlington might pay more than someone living on a farm 30 miles away. This is partly because living in an area with high population density typically means a vehicle is at higher risk for theft, vandalism and traffic accidents.
Because insurance providers base much of their policy cost calculations on a driver’s likelihood of filing claims, lower risk can translate into lower costs for the customer.
Average car insurance costs in Vermont
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State minimum requirements in Vermont
To legally drive in Vermont, you’ll need insurance that includes at least:
- $25,000 for injury or death to one person in an accident.
- $50,000 for total injury or death if multiple people are hurt in the accident.
- $10,000 for property damage.
In addition, you’ll need to carry uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage with at least:
- $50,000 for bodily injury to one person.
- $100,000 for total injury if multiple people are injured or killed.
What additional coverage can I get?
In Vermont, you’ll find the same range of coverage offerings as you’d find in any other state, including:
- Collision. Helps pay for damages to your car resulting from traffic accidents.
- Comprehensive. Pays for damages to your car resulting from cases that do not involve traffic accidents, like vandalism, theft and the occasional deer.
- Medical payments. Helps cover your medical costs related to injuries from a car accident.
- Towing and labor. Reimburses you for towing and associated costs for getting out of a snowbank or transporting your disabled car to a repair shop.
- Rental car. When your car is laid up after an accident, this can cover the costs of a rental vehicle up to your coverage limits.
Uninsured drivers in Vermont
According to estimates from the Insurance Research Council, only 6.8% of motorists in Vermont were on the road without proper car insurance coverage in 2015. That’s about half the national average of 13% and a far cry from Florida’s statewide estimate of 26.7%.
A low rate of uninsured drivers within a state is believed to be a factor in generally low auto insurance rates.
What can I do if I don’t want to buy car insurance in Vermont?
You don’t necessarily have to purchase car insurance in Vermont, but the alternative is costly: You must deposit $115,000 with the DMV or the Vermont State Treasurer. With this deposit, you’re given a certificate of financial responsibility that you can display if you’re asked for proof of insurance by a police officer. This deposit is then used to pay for damages after an accident you’re involved in, including medical costs and property damages.
Additionally, because Vermont is a “tort” or at-fault state when it comes to dealing with car accidents, you can be held liable for the other driver’s damages and medical bills as well as having to cover your own. This could quickly eat up your deposit after a severe crash that injures multiple people. Any excess costs after the deposit is gone are covered from your own pocket. For these reasons, most Vermont drivers stick with conventional car insurance coverage rather than placing a deposit with the state.
Can I buy temporary car insurance in Vermont?
Yes. You might want temporary car insurance coverage if you only drive on very rare occasions or if you’re spending a month or two in Vermont and plan to drive while you’re there.
However, not all major providers offer temporary coverage in all parts of the country. You may want to consider smaller insurance providers or nontraditional coverage, and allow extra time for comparison shopping and finding a provider that works for you.
What happens if I’m driving in Vermont and I don’t have insurance?
If you’re pulled over and can’t show proof of insurance, you have seven days to present proof to the Vermont DMV.
If you don’t have coverage at all or if you fail to show your proof within the time allowed, you face stiff fines and other administrative penalties that include:
- Fines from $100 to $600, depending on whether an accident is involved or it’s the driver’s first offense
- License suspension until proof of insurance is provided
- SR-22 filing with the state for three years
What laws do I need to follow when I’m driving in Vermont?
Most states throughout the US share a fairly common set of traffic laws. But Vermont has a few of its own regulations that you may want to note before hitting the road:
- Anyone under the age of 18 must wear a seat belt, and the driver can be ticketed and pulled over for this violation alone. But anyone over 18 not wearing a seat belt can be ticketed only if the driver is pulled over for another traffic violation.
- You must report any car accident involving injuries or deaths or resulting in property damages that exceed $3,000.
- Drivers under the age of 18 cannot use a phone at all while driving. If you’re over 18, you can’t text while driving but you can use a phone with a hands-free device.
What are the DUI penalties in Vermont?
The blood alcohol content (BAC) limits in Vermont are the same as what you’ll find throughout the US: 0.08% for all typical drivers and 0.04% for commercial drivers.
If you exceed these limits, you could be charged with driving under the influence (DUI) and could face steep fines, a license suspension and possible jail time.
|First offense||Second offense||Third offense|
|Jail||Up to 2 years||Up to 2 years||Up to 5 years|
|Fines and penalties||Up to $1,500||Up to $2,500|
|License suspension||3 months||18 months||Indefinite|
|Ignition interlock device (IID) required||No||No||No|
Can I get SR-22 insurance in Vermont?
Yes. An SR-22 isn’t actually insurance, but rather a document proving to the state that you’re legally and legitimately insured. You might need an SR-22 in Vermont if you’ve gotten a DUI or you’re caught driving without car insurance.
What happens after an accident in Vermont?
Even the most minor car accident can leave you shaken and wondering what to do next. After an accident, follow these steps to ensure that you’re safe and protect yourself against any unnecessary worries when processing your car insurance claim:
- Get to safety. Make sure that you and everybody involved in the accident is safe. If you need assistance, call emergency services immediately.
- Notify your insurance company. After you’ve confirmed that all parties are safe, call your agent to report the accident. They will walk you through the information they need for your claim.
- Document the accident. Take pictures of each car involved from different angles, and talk to any witnesses you might be able to contact for more information later. This might include drivers and passengers, bystanders or even police officers on the scene.
- Exchange information. Get the full name, contact info and insurance policy details from other drivers. Note the drivers’ car type, color, model and license plate number, as well as the exact location of the accident. If you want the best chance of your insurance company accepting your claim, avoid taking blame for the accident.
Who’s at fault after an accident?
Vermont is a “tort” or at-fault state. When one driver is considered at-fault for an accident through negligence or violation of traffic laws, that driver’s insurance or self-insurance deposit pays for all damages and injuries up to their policy limits. Also, if the at-fault driver’s insurance can’t cover all the damages or injuries resulting from the crash, the victim in the accident can sue for additional damages or “pain and suffering.”
When should I report an accident in Vermont?
You’re required to submit a car crash report to the local police within three days if the accident results in injury, death or property damages of $3,000 or more. You must report the accident even if your car was parked, and if your accident involved more than two cars, you’ll need to submit as many forms as necessary to cover them all.
When should I contact a lawyer?
Not all car accidents require contacting a lawyer. But if these conditions apply to your situation, you may want to consider seeking legal advice:
- You’re charged with a crime, such as negligence, after an accident.
- You’re held liable for a crash that wasn’t your fault.
- Alcohol was a factor in the accident.
- You plan to file a civil suit against anyone involved in the accident.
- Anyone involved in the accident plans to file a civil suit against you.
Car insurance helps to protect you, your vehicle and everyone else on the road, and it’s legally required to get behind the wheel in the scenic state of Vermont. Vermont’s auto insurance rates are relatively low compared to national averages, but you could find ways to save even more if you’re willing to shop around and compare offerings from multiple providers.
To learn more about insurance regulations, discounts, policy extras and more, read our comprehensive guide to car insurance.
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