You cannot legally drive a vehicle on public roads in Virginia without having at least some minimal auto insurance coverage. Virginia requires you to carry at least state-mandated minimums for auto insurance. And if you finance a vehicle, you will need full coverage to protect the car loan.
Basic Auto Insurance
In order to legally operate a vehicle on public roads in Virginia, the owner of the vehicle must carry at least the mandated minimums for liability insurance coverage or pay a $500 uninsured motorist fee. Those mandated insurance minimums are:
- $25,000 bodily injury liability for one person.
- $50,000 in combined bodily injury liability per accident.
- $20,000 in property damage liability protection.
Liability insurance does not pay the vehicle’s owner for personal property damage or medical costs arising from an auto accident. Instead, liability insurance protects the vehicle’s owner against the liability costs up to policy limits for property damage or injuries suffered by others during an accident.
Required Insurance Documents
You must carry proof of insurance coverage while operating the insured vehicle and provide it upon request by a police officer during a traffic stop. The proof of insurance will list the make, model year and VIN number of the insured vehicle. It also will list the owner and current address and any named insured drivers, if any. The proof of insurance sufficiently affirms the vehicle is lawfully insured in accordance with Virginia law.
If you do not carry insurance on your vehicle, you must provide proof that you paid Virginia’s uninsured motorists fee, which goes into the state’s Uninsured Motorists Fund. The fund is a financial mechanism that helps to make uninsured and underinsured motorist coverage more affordable in Virginia.
If you do not insure a vehicle and pay the uninsured motorists fee, you do not have any insurance protection for injuries or property damages suffered or caused. You are liable for the full costs if you are at fault. Some wealthy individuals can better afford to drive without auto insurance coverage, but virtually all others greatly benefit from even minimal liability insurance protection.
Your Insurance Card
Auto insurers usually provide a wallet-sized card that makes it easy to carry and provide proof of insurance while driving or when renewing the vehicle’s registration. The insurance card lists the same vehicle and owner information plus the liability insurance limits that are listed on the insurance documents. It also says when the current insurance policy expires.
Virginia law defines insurance fraud as providing “false, incomplete or misleading information” to an insurer in order to defraud the insurance company. Insurance fraud could rise to the level of a felony criminal violation. Penalties for insurance fraud include imprisonment and fines, plus denial of insurance benefits.
How to Report Fraud to the State
The Virginia State Police operates an Insurance Fraud Investigation Unit, which initiates independent investigations and responds to complaints of insurance fraud. Consumers can submit a tip online, via email or by calling the Insurance Fraud Investigation Unit. Tips that lead to successful prosecutions could earn a reward of up to $25,000.