Do You Need to Buy Auto Insurance in Virginia?


As a personal injury lawyer in Richmond, Virginia, I am often asked if drivers are required to purchase motor vehicle liability insurance in Virginia. Liability insurance protects you from claims and lawsuits from other people if you cause them personal injuries or property damage in a car crash. Auto liability insurance also gives you financial protection if you are injured by a driver who does not have sufficient car insurance coverage to compensate you for your injuries and damages.


This article answers whether auto insurance is mandatory in Virginia, what you must do if you decide not to purchase auto insurance, and how much coverage you are required to have if you buy car insurance.


If you have questions about your auto insurance coverage, or are looking for legal representation after a motor vehicle accident, contact Richmond car accident lawyer and Newport News auto accident attorney Corey Pollard for a free consultation.


Auto Insurance is Not Mandatory in Virginia


Virginia requires all drivers to have a way to pay for bodily injuries or property damage arising out of a car accident. But Virginia does not require drivers to purchase car insurance. Motorists are free to choose whether to purchase auto liability insurance to satisfy their financial obligation.


You Will Have to Pay an Uninsured Motorist Fee if You Do Not Purchase Motor Vehicle Liability Insurance


If you do not satisfy your responsibility to have a way to pay for injuries or damage resulting from a car accident by purchasing car insurance, then you must pay a fee to the Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles to drive an uninsured vehicle.


As stated by the Virginia Supreme Court in Reliance Ins. Cos. v. Darden, 217 Va. 694, 232 S.E.2d 749 (1977): “Virginia is not a compulsory motor vehicle liability insurance state. Rather, it has pioneered in the area of uninsured motorist law.” The Virginia Supreme Court was referring to the statute governing uninsured motorists and required fees.


Virginia Code Section 46.2-706 requires every person registering an uninsured motor vehicle to pay a fee of $500. This uninsured motor vehicle fee is prorated if the vehicle is registered for less than a full year. it is also refundable if you purchase car insurance at a later date.


Though it does not require drivers to purchase car insurance, Virginia encourages everyone to have motor vehicle liability insurance through the uninsured motorist fee.


Is Paying the Uninsured Motorist Fee the Same Thing as Having Car Insurance?


No. Paying the uninsured vehicle fee does not provide you with liability insurance coverage. It protects you from being prosecuted for the violation of driving a motor vehicle without insurance.


What is the Uninsured Motorist Fee Used For?


All uninsured motorist fees are paid into the state treasury and held in a fund known as the Uninsured Motorists Fund. These funds may be used in accordance with the General Appropriations Act.


How Does Virginia Know if I Have Auto Insurance?


When you register a motor vehicle, you must tell the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) if the vehicle is insured or not. You will face penalties and fines if you lie to the DMV about your vehicle’s insurance status.


Are There Minimum Car Insurance Requirements in Virginia?


Yes. There are minimum motor vehicle liability insurance requirements in Virginia, which are found in Virginia Code Section 46.2-472. If you purchase Virginia auto insurance, then it must provide at least the following coverage:


  • $25,000 for injuries per person per accident


  • $50,000 for total injuries per accident involving two or more persons


  • $20,000 for property damage per accident


You must also purchase uninsured/uninsured motorist coverage for injuries or property damage caused by an uninsured driver or an insured driver who does not have enough car insurance coverage to pay for your injuries or damages.


The amount of your uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage must match the minimums of your auto insurance policy.


Talk to a Car Accident Attorney Today!


You don’t have to take on the insurance company alone. If you’ve been injured in an auto accident, contact Corey Pollard for a free strategy session. We help victims with their claims for personal injury damages, Virginia Workers Compensation, Long Term Disability, and Social Security Disability.