Before getting auto insurance in West Virginia
If you’ve never insured a car outside your home state, you might not know that each state has its own laws and regulations for auto insurance coverage. This means that West Virginia has a unique set of standards and rules to follow before you can hit the road.
Read on to learn more about what you’ll need to get insured in West Virginia, plus details on the average cost of car insurance in West Virginia, DUI laws and penalties, who’s at fault in a car accident and more.
Average car insurance costs in West Virginia
West Virginia came in slightly above the $1,300 national average for auto insurance costs compared to other states in 2017, with most drivers paying about $1,350 annually. Drivers in the most expensive state in the country — Michigan — tend to pay more than $2,300 a year for the same level of coverage.
While a state average is a good guideline for what you’ll pay, your costs also depend on where you live, your age and driving record, among other things. The more risk you present to the insurer, the higher you’ll pay for your premium.
How can I save money on car insurance?
No matter what state you’re in, use our general tips to lower your premiums and get a better value out of your coverage with our comprehensive guide to car insurance. We explore the different types of insurance coverage out there, tricks for saving on your rates, what to look for when comparing insurers and more.
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State minimum requirements in West Virginia
To legally drive in West Virginia, you’ll need insurance that includes at least:
- $25,000 for bodily injury per person.
- $50,000 for bodily injury per accident.
- $25,000 for property damage.
In addition to liability coverage, you must carry the same minimums for uninsured or underinsured motorist coverage.
What additional coverage can I get?
In West Virginia, you can get the same policy extras you would expect in most states. However, it’s worth noting that not all insurers offer all coverage options in every part of the country.
- Comprehensive. Covers damage to your car caused by something other than a collision, like weather or vandalism.
- Collision. Helps pay for repairs if your car is damaged in an accident.
- Medical and funeral services. Helps cover medical bills or funeral services as a result of an accident.
- Uninsured and underinsured motorist coverage. Protects you if you get into an accident with someone who doesn’t have insurance.
- Rental car. Assists in paying for any car you rent if your vehicle is damaged in an accident.
- Towing and labor. This provides reimbursement for towing or labor costs you may have incurred as a result of an accident.
Uninsured drivers in West Virginia
About 10% of all drivers in this state were uninsured in 2015, according to estimates from the Insurance Research Council. That’s slightly lower than the 13% national average, and way lower than Florida’s whopping estimate of 26.7%.
What can I do if I don’t want to buy car insurance in West Virginia?
Unlike many states, West Virginia doesn’t offer any alternative to carrying auto insurance — not even depositing large sums of money with the state treasury. To get behind the wheel in this state, you’ll have to find some kind of insurance policy that meets the minimum requirements.
Can I buy temporary car insurance in West Virginia?
Yes, you can get temporary insurance in West Virginia. You might need this type of coverage if you plan on renting a car on and off for a few months and don’t want to pay the high insurance costs that rental companies offer, or if you bought a car and plan on reselling it in a few months. Not all providers offer temporary car insurance policies, so you’ll likely have to do some digging to find an insurer that will meet your needs.
What happens if I’m driving in West Virginia and I don’t have insurance?
If you’re caught driving without proper coverage in this state, you can face fines and penalties that include suspending your car’s registration, confiscation of your license plate and driver’s license. you can pay up to $200 to get all of that reinstated. Each offense will result in a longer suspension period.
What laws do I need to follow when I’m driving in West Virginia?
Most states adhere to a fairly common set of traffic laws, but West Virginia has a few that are unique to this state.
- Anyone in the front passenger seats must wear seat belts. Passengers sitting in the back seat that are older than 18 aren’t legally required to wear seat belts.
- Texting behind the wheel is prohibited, and you can only use your cellphone for calls if you have a hands-free device. Anyone under 18 years old cannot use a cellphone at all — even if they have a hands-free device.
- Every vehicle must have at least two headlights on between sunset and sunrise, or when there’s poor visibility. Having a headlight out is sufficient reason for a police officer to pull a driver over.
- Leaving a running vehicle unattended is considered a misdemeanor, with a fine as high as $100.
What are the penalties for getting a DUI in West Virginia?
Like all states in the US, West Virginia enforces a blood alcohol content (BAC) limit of 0.08% and a 0.04% limit for commercial drivers. Additionally, drivers younger than 21 are held to the stricter BAC limit of 0.02%. If you’re pulled over and convicted of driving under the influence (DUI) in West Virginia, you’ll likely face penalties similar to the ones listed below.
|1st Offense||2nd Offense||3rd Offense|
|Jail||Up to 6 months||6–12 months||1–3 years|
|Fines and penalties||$100–$1,000||$1,000–$3,000||$3,000–$5,000|
|License suspension||15–45 days||1 year||1 year|
Can I get SR-22 insurance in West Virginia?
No, West Virginia is one of the few states that doesn’t require an SR-22 if you’re a current resident. If you move to West Virginia from another state that required you to file an SR-22, you probably need to continue meeting your SR-22 insurance requirements while in West Virginia.
What happens after an accident in West Virginia?
When you’re involved in a car accident, the steps you take at the scene can help you settle any claims quickly and efficiently.
- Get to safety. Make sure you and everybody involved in the accident are OK. If you need assistance, call 911 immediately.
- Notify your insurance company. After you’ve confirmed that all parties are safe, call your agent to report the accident. They’ll walk you through the information they need for your claim.
- Document the accident. Protect your claim by taking down the names of any police officers at the scene. Take pictures of each car involved from different angles, and talk to any witnesses you can contact for more information later.
- 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.
When you discuss the accident with anyone involved, don’t admit to guilt. If you suggest to anybody that you caused the crash, your car insurance provider could refuse to pay your claim.
Who’s at fault after an accident?
West Virginia is a tort or at-fault state, meaning the driver who caused the crash — and their insurer — will be held responsible to pay for damages and injuries, up to the driver’s policy limits. In a no-fault state, each driver in a crash would be covered by their own insurance policy.
When should I report an accident in West Virginia?
You must report a car accident in this state if anyone was injured or killed, or if it resulted in property damages over $500. Failure to report a serious accident could result in having your license suspended.
When should I contact a lawyer?
Many car accidents might not even require a lawyer. But if you’re facing any of these situations after a crash, it may be a good idea to seek professional legal advice:
- You’re facing criminal charges after the accident, such as negligence.
- Your auto insurance fails to cover a significant portion of the costs resulting from the crash.
- The other driver plans to file a civil suit against you.
- You plan to file a civil suit against another driver involved in the crash.
- You plan to appeal a court decision following the accident.
The right car insurance policy can help protect you, your vehicle and other motorists on the road. And in the state of West Virginia, you’re legally required to maintain coverage if you want to drive. Compare the laws and requirements in your state to find the best value on your car insurance coverage.
Frequently asked questions about West Virginia car insurance
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