After a car accident in Virginia, car insurance is sure to play a big part in any claim for injury or vehicle damage:
Virginia follows a traditional "fault"-based system when it comes to financial responsibility for losses stemming from a car accident: injuries, lost income, vehicle damage, and so on. This means that the person who was at fault for causing the car accident is also responsible for any resulting harm. Of course, from a practical standpoint, the at-fault driver's insurance carrier will absorb these losses, up to the driver's liability coverage limits. More on this later.
After any kind of injury or property damage resulting from a car accident in Virginia, you might be able to:
Note: In no-fault car insurance states, a claimant doesn't usually have these same options, at least not initially. Virginia drivers don't need to worry about no-fault after an in-state accident, but no-fault could come into play after an accident across state lines (in Kentucky, for example).
In Virginia, you are not required to carry liability insurance on your vehicle if you pay a $500 Uninsured Motor Vehicle Fee. Once you pay the fee, you are legally permitted to drive a vehicle in the state without car insurance.
Bear in mind that you are not purchasing any form of insurance by paying the Uninsured Motor Vehicle Fee. If you cause an accident, without insurance you will be personally liable for whatever damages you cause. That can add up to tens of thousands of dollars after a serious crash. Learn more about the Uninsured Motor Vehicle Fee, from the Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles.
If you choose not to pay the fee, you are required to carry the following minimum amounts of liability car insurance coverage in Virginia (for policies in effect from January 1, 2022 through December 31, 2024):
Liability coverage pays the medical bills, property damage bills, and other costs of drivers, passengers, and pedestrians who are injured or have their vehicle damaged in a car accident you cause, up to coverage limits.
You can (and in some situations should) carry more coverage to protect you in case a serious crash results in significant car accident injuries and vehicle damage. Once policy limits are exhausted, you are personally on the financial hook, so higher insurance limits can help protect your personal assets in the event of a serious crash.
Your liability coverage will kick in if any family member is driving your vehicle, or if you've given someone else permission to use it. It will likely also cover you if you get into an accident in a rental car.
Remember that liability coverage doesn't apply to your own injuries or vehicle damage after a Virginia car accident. You'll need different (additional) coverage for that if you're involved in a car accident and no one else's coverage applies to your losses.
For example, collision coverage (optional in Virginia) can pay for repairs to (or replacement of) your damaged vehicle after a car accident. Note that collision or comprehensive coverage might be required under the terms of a vehicle lease or financing agreement.
According to the Virginia DMV, serious penalties are imposed for not complying with the state's insurance rules. If your insurance coverage terminates or cancels, you must either:
If you drive uninsured, and have not paid the $500 Uninsured Motor Vehicle Fee, your driver's license and registration will be suspended. To restore your driving privileges, you will need to pay $500 and file a proof of insurance form with the DMV for the next three years.
Of course, that's all in addition to serious financial consequences if you cause a car accident and you don't have car insurance.
Yes. If you're asked to show proof of car insurance (during a traffic stop, for example), you can pull up official documentation from your car insurance company (such as a digital version of your insurance card) on your phone or other device. Of course, you can still carry a physical copy of your insurance card and hand that over as well.
Understanding how car insurance works in Virginia is one thing, but if you're injured in a car accident, you might want to discuss your situation (and your options) with a legal professional. Get more information on when you might need a car accident lawyer, and what to expect from your first meeting with a car accident attorney. You can also use the features right on this page to connect with a Virginia injury lawyer in your area.