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Getting cheap auto insurance in Virginia
Few people enjoy talking about insurance policies — they’re both complicated and exhausting to wrap your head around. A good way to educate yourself is by looking at your state’s requirements for insurance.
To legally drive in Virginia, you need to either satisfy the state’s auto insurance minimum or pay the DMV to allow you to drive uninsured.
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Average car insurance costs in Virgina
Virginia is one of the cheapest states in the country to get car insurance, at least for most drivers. The state’s drivers pay an average of $1,050 annually; for reference, the national average is between $1,200 and $1,250.
However, because individual car insurance plans are affected by so many different factors, you could still end up paying significantly more or less than your state’s average.
What affects my car insurance costs?
These factors are likely to affect the cost of your car insurance coverage.
- Age. If you’re younger than 25 or older than 70, you can expect to pay more for your coverage than the ages in between. This is because out of all age demographics, accident risk is highest among drivers between 16 and 19, and slowly lowers through the mid-30s.
- Type of car. Owning a fast sports car is something a lot of people daydream about, and maybe you’ve got your eye on a Porsche when you retire someday. But it’s good to note that when cars are designed to go fast, they tend to be driven fast; this puts them at an elevated level of accident risk, and insurers will always charge accordingly. A Toyota Corolla might not have the same curb appeal, but it’s far cheaper to insure, maintain and fill up with fuel than an imported roadster.
- Driving record. If you’ve only been driving for a few years, or if you have any serious black marks in your driving history, most insurers will charge you more for coverage. The longer you go without any accidents or traffic violations, the more likely your rates are to go down — not to mention, you’re more likely to see a good driver discount or something similar.
- Location. Rural drivers typically pay less for car insurance than people who live and commute in high traffic or urban areas. This is because in the country, risks or theft, vandalism and multi-vehicle accidents are far lower, meaning rural drivers are less likely overall to file claims.
- Gender. With the exception of three states — Hawaii, Massachusetts and North Carolina — women could pay 5-15% less for car insurance. This is because men are statistically more likely to get into accidents, far more likely to drive under the influence of alcohol and less likely to wear their seat belt. However, this insurance cost differential tends to even out as drivers approach the age of 50.
- Marital status. Married people are seen as more stable, both financially and otherwise, and statistics show that married people are less likely to get into accidents or file insurance claims than single people.
- Occupation. There are often special discounts or considerations made for people who work in certain fields. For example, teachers, professors and school administrators often pay less for their coverage, as do medical professionals and healthcare workers. Membership with certain professional organizations or work unions could also net you a discount.
On the other side of the coin, if you drive your own vehicle throughout the day for work — say, outside sales representatives or site inspectors — the extra mileage and road time could increase your insurance rates.
- Other drivers. Whenever you add another driver to your car insurance policy, all their factors start to play into your costs. This means even the safest middle-aged driver out there could pay higher than the average when their teenage son or daughter starts collecting speeding tickets with the family car.
- Typical driving habits. Do you have a lengthy commute every day of the week? Do you put on more miles per week than the average driver? These kinds of things can help or hurt your chance of getting a great rate. If you never drive more than 50 or 100 miles in a week, tell your insurer and see if this can get you a lower rate.
- Pay by miles driven
- Low base rates
- Drive less, pay less
Metromile Car Insurance
Drive less, pay less: Metromile offers pay-per-mile driving that offers huge potential savings for low-mileage drivers. Available only to residents of California, Washington, Oregon, New Jersey and Illinois.
- Easy claims online or by phone
- Handy driving app
- Multi-car discounts
- All miles over 250 per day are free
Should you choose to purchase insurance, here’s what you’ll need to satisfy Virginia’s car insurance minimums.
Your car insurance policy must include:
- $25,000 in bodily injury liability per person.
- $50,000 in bodily injury liability per accident.
- $20,000 in property damage liability per accident.
When shopping for car insurance, you’ll sometimes see this written as 25/50/20.
You’re also required to purchase uninsured/underinsured motorists coverage, which must include at least:
- $25,000 in uninsured/underinsured motorist bodily injury per person.
- $50,000 in uninsured/underinsured motorist bodily injury per accident.
- $20,000 in uninsured/underinsured motorist property damage per accident.
You’re also required to purchase uninsured/underinsured motorists coverage, which must include at least:
What if I don’t want insurance?
You’ll pay a $500 fee to drive uninsured in Virginia for up to 12 months. But if you’re in an accident, you’ll pay for all damages and injuries you’re found responsible for after any kind of accident. Since the costs of an accident typically add up to a lot more than a year’s worth of insurance costs, it’s usually better to just pay for insurance from a cost-savings standpoint.
Penalties for driving without coverage
If you’re caught driving without car insurance in this state and you haven’t paid your annual $500 fee, you could lose your license for up to a year — and on top of that, you’ll have to pay a $500 fine, plus a $145 license and registration reinstatement fee when you want to get back on the road. You might even be required to carry SR-22 insurance for up to 3 years.
If you’re pulled over for a traffic stop, authorities will request to see proof of insurance. Virginia can check this through an electronic system: If your policy with your insurance company runs out, it’s report to the state.
Can I get temporary insurance?
You sure can. However, it’s not always offered by major providers, and this kind of coverage tends to cost more than conventional insurance. Temporary coverage can be a great option if you’re only going to be driving during a vacation, or for a month or two at the most — or it can tide you over until you find an insurance policy that works for you. You might need to get temporary coverage if you’ve just bought a car or if you’ve just moved to a new state where your old policy won’t cover new requirements.
Drunk driving laws in Virginia
If you’re caught driving over the limit in this state, you can expect to pay a fine, spend a little time in jail, and lose your license for at least a year — and for any repeat offenders, the consequences get worse each time.
|Jail||5 days minimum||20 days up to 1 year || 6 months minimum|
|Fines and Penalties|| $250 minimum||$500 minimum||$1,000 minimum|
|License Suspension|| 1 year||3 years||Indefinitely|
|IID Required||Yes, if BAC exceeds 0.15%||Yes||Yes|
Implied consent law
Virginia, like most states, has an implied consent law. This means by driving on any and all public roadways in Virginia, you’re giving your consent to be tested for alcohol or drugs if a police officer suspects you might be driving under the influence.
If you violate this implied consent law by refusing a portable breath test or sobriety test, you can have your license suspended for 1-3 years, even if you were never driving under the influence in the first place. Most lawyers will advise that drivers submit to alcohol breath tests when asked by police for this reason.
- Safety first. Make sure that everyone involved in the accident is OK. If anyone is injured, call 911 right away. Do your best to stay calm and look out for any other potential dangers, including fires. If no one is injured, call the local police and inform them of what has happened.
- Exchange information. Get the name, contact information, driver’s license number, address, insurance and car information from the other person involved in the crash.
- Notify your auto insurance company. Notify your insurance company before you leave the scene of the accident. They’ll be able to walk you through any additional steps you should take to protect your claim.
- Document the scene. Take note of any potential witnesses, including a police officer, who can help you protect your claim if you need it later. It’s also a good idea to take pictures if any damages or injuries occurred. Try to get multiple angles and perspectives.
What happens if I’m driving in Virginia and I don’t have insurance?
If you’re in an accident in Virginia and don’t have insurance (or haven’t paid the fee to drive uninsured), your driver’s license, license plates and vehicle registration can all be suspended.
To get your driving credentials back, you’ll need to pay a $500 fine, a $145 to $220 reinstatement fee and maintain proof of SR-22 insurance for three years. SR-22 holders are legally required to purchase car insurance.
Virginia is a tort or at-fault state, so you don’t need personal injury protection coverage. Drivers in at-fault states are responsible for paying any damages they’re found at fault for after an accident.
If the accident resulted in injury, death or property damage over $1,500, call the police right away. They’ll need to file an accident report. If you’re unsure of how much the property damage will cost or if a sore knee counts as an injury, it’s a good idea to call the police just to be safe.
Uninsured drivers in Virginia
Even though Virginia residents can drive without insurance, only 10.1% do — which, surprising, is below the 12.6% average. Still, that’s a fair number of drivers that could leave you vulnerable in case of an accident.
If you’re looking to better protect yourself from uninsured drivers, consider adding an uninsured or uninsured coverage option to your insurance plan.
Regardless of whether you choose to buy car insurance or pay the uninsured driver’s fee, make sure that you research your options. Weigh your lifestyle with your safety concerns and personal finances.