How to get cheap car insurance in Washington DC | Compare rates

Car insurance in Washington DC

Minimum requirements and how to get cheap auto insurance in Washington DC

Getting cheap auto insurance in Washington DC

If you’re new to Washington, DC, or a first-time car owner, you may not be familiar with the ins and outs of car insurance in the nation’s capital. To save you time, we put together the essentials of what you need to know before driving in DC.

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Car insurance costs in Washington DC

Washington, DC, requires every driver to carry basic liability coverage, which protects other drivers in an accident.

CoverageWhat it coversMinimum coverage you need
LiabilityThe other car and driver when an accident is your fault
  • $25,000 per person per accident for bodily injury
  • $50,000 per accident for bodily injury
  • $10,000 in property damage per accident

You’re also required to carry uninsured motorist coverage, which protects you against uninsured or underinsured drivers.

CoverageWhat it coversMinimum coverage you need
Uninsured motoristYou, your passengers and your car if you’re in an accident with an uninsured driver
  • $50,000 per accident for bodily injury
  • $25,000 per person per accident for bodily injury
  • $5,000 in property damage per accident

Are there other types of insurance I’m required to carry in DC?

Apart from DC’s liability and uninsured liability coverage requirements, many finance companies require you to also carry collision and comprehensive coverage if you’re financing or leasing your car.

CoverageWhat it covers
CollisionDamage to your car caused by an accident
ComprehensiveDamage to or loss of your car not caused by an accident — for example, if your car is stolen or damaged by hail.

When am I required to show proof of insurance?

You need to show proof of your car insurance — your policy, card or a letter on your insurance company’s letterhead — whenever you:

  • Register your car or renew your registration.
  • Are stopped by a police officer.
  • Are involved in an accident.

You could face a fine if you’re not able to produce your insurance information on the spot. However, if you’re currently covered under a legitimate insurance policy and simply forgot to carry your insurance ID with you, you may be able to show this proof within a day or two and avoid the more serious consequences outlined below. This will likely depend on the discretion of the police officer who asks for the proof of insurance.

What happens if I’m driving in Washington DC and I don’t have car insurance at all?

If you’re in an accident or stopped by the police and you’re unable to provide proof of car insurance, you risk stiff fines and even the revocation of your license and registration.

DC separates fines by owning an insured vehicle and driving an uninsured vehicle.

Owning an uninsured vehicle

  • First offense. You pay a fine of $150 and an additional $7 each additional day beyond 30 days after you’ve received notification with a $2,500 cap. Your license is suspended for up to a month, requiring a $98 reinstatement fee. You may also be required to provide proof of financial responsibility — also called an SR22 — for up to three years.
  • Subsequent offenses. You pay a fine of $150 and an additional $7 each additional day beyond 30 days after you’ve received notification with a $2,500 cap. Your license is suspended for up to two months, requiring a $98 reinstatement fee. You may also be required to provide proof of financial responsibility — also called an SR22 — for up to three years.
  • Failure to present proof of insurance. You’ll pay a $30 fine for each instance.

Driving an uninsured vehicle

  • First offense. You pay a fine of $500, and your license may also be suspended for up to a month, requiring a $98 reinstatement fee afterward. You may also be required to provide proof of financial responsibility — also called an SR22 — for up to three years.
  • Second offense. You pay a fine of $750, and your license may also be suspended for up to two months, requiring a $98 reinstatement fee afterward. You may also be required to provide proof of financial responsibility — also called an SR22 — for up to three years.
  • Subsequent offenses. Your fine increases by 50% with a more severe suspension of your license.
  • Failure to present proof of insurance. You’ll pay a $30 fine for each instance.

Auto insurance providers for drivers in Washington DC

Rates last updated April 24th, 2018
Details Features
Liberty Mutual Car Insurance
Liberty Mutual Car Insurance
Car insurance through Liberty Mutual will give coverage options for almost any situation.
  • Multi-car discount
  • Bundle discount for combining auto and home policies
  • New vehicle discount
Get Quote More info
Esurance
Esurance
Esurance offers a modern online and mobile experience that helps you take your insurance on the go.
  • CoverageMyWay® helps you make smarter choices
  • Gain peace of mind with 24/7 claims service
  • Manage your policy on the go with Esurance Mobile
Get Quote More info
Allstate Auto Insurance
Allstate Auto Insurance
With a range of coverage options at affordable prices, Allstate auto insurance can be personalized to your needs as a driver.
  • Reward System for Safe Drivers
  • Bumper-to-Bumper Basics® Tool
  • Comprehensive Tools to Design a Customized Insurance Plan
Get Quote More info

Driving laws in Washington DC

While most traffic laws are pretty consistent across the US, each state and territory has a few unique rules and regulations — and DC is no exception.

  • Bus drivers and drivers under 18 are banned from any sort of cell phone use behind the wheel.
  • Text messaging while driving is banned for all drivers.
  • All drivers are required to use hands-free devices to make calls; even talking on a cell phone while driving is a primary offense here.
  • At age 70, drivers in DC must renew their license in person — rather than online — and pass a vision test, as well as receive medical approval to drive safely before being issued their new license.
  • Making a right turn at a red light is permitted in this district, as long as the driver comes to a full stop and checks for oncoming traffic before proceeding.

Drunk driving laws in Washington DC

Washington DC’s laws regarding blood alcohol limit are the same as most states — normal drivers have an upper limit of 0.08%, and commercial drivers have a limit of 0.04%.

If you’re caught driving under the influence in DC, you can expect some hefty fines, a suspension of your license and possibly even jail time. For each time a repeat offender is caught, fines and penalties get more severe.

1st Offense2nd Offense3rd Offense
JailUp to 90 daysUp to 1 yearUp to 1 year
Fines and Penalties$300-$1,000$1,000-$5,000$2,000-$10,000
License Suspension6 months1 year2 years
IID RequiredNoNoNo

Law of implied consent

In DC, and in many other states, there’s an implied consent law which states you must comply with alcohol breath tests whenever an officer has probable cause for administering one of these tests. If you refuse, you could have your license suspended even if it turns out you were never drinking in the first place.

Can I get SR-22 insurance in DC?

Yes, you can. You might need this kind of coverage if you’ve been convicted of a DUI, if you were caught driving without insurance or if you’ve accumulated too many violation points on your driving record. To learn more about how an SR-22 affects your car insurance and what else it entails, visit our guide on SR-22 insurance.


What should I do after a car accident in DC?

Having car insurance gives you peace of mind that you’re protected in an accident. But that doesn’t mean that a fender bender isn’t distressing.

If you have an accident, follow these five steps to ensure an easy car insurance claim:

  1. Don’t panic. Get out your car carefully and make sure you’re OK. Check on the safety of your passengers and then the other people involved in the accident. If anybody is hurt or requires assistance, immediately call 911.
  2. Call your insurance provider. Report the details and location of your accident to an agent, who can assist you with any other information required to process your claim.
  3. Document the accident. Protect your claim by recording the full names of police officers and any witnesses at the scene. Take pictures of each car involved from different angles and talk to any witnesses you might be able to contact for more information later.
  4. 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.

Do I need to call the police or report it to the DMV if I have an accident

You are not required to report your accident to the police or the DMV unless there are physical injuries or damages that exceed $200 in value.


Bottom line

Having an accident — regardless of who’s at fault or how serious it is — can be traumatic. Prepare by staying current with your protection. To get the cheapest coverage for your needs, carefully research your car insurance options when driving inside the Beltway.

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