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Virginia Car Insurance

Auto Insurance Basics in Virginia

A car insurance policy is a contract between a vehicle owner and an insurance company. In return for an agreed upon fee known as a premium, the insurance provider agrees to cover the resulting damages from a vehicular accident involving the policy holder. That’s the simple version. From here it gets a bit more complicated. There is no one car insurance policy that covers all potential financial risks that stem from owning and operating a vehicle. The insurance industry breaks the risks into types, or segments, and allows consumers to judge for themselves how much risk they want an insurance company to assume, and how much they are willing to bear themselves.

The financial damage from car accidents is steep. Medical costs from accident related injuries and the repair bills from damaged cars and other property can add up pretty quickly. Industry experts have calculated that an average fender bender results in about $3,500 of damages, all in. And if a serious injury results from the crash, costs escalate into the tens of thousands of dollars. Most seriously, if a crash results in a fatality, the Department of Transportation has estimated that cost as exceeding $1 million. So, the potential impact of a crash can be financially ruinous. That’s why having car insurance is a good idea. Not every ride in your car results in a crash. Although the total number of accidents total about 6 million in the United States, there are more than 240 million vehicles in the country. Car insurance works by having people pay into a collective fund (known as pooling the risk), and then drawing on it if they need it.

The main types on car insurance available to Virginia drivers are liability insurance, comprehensive insurance, collision, personal personal injury protection and uninsured/underinsured coverage. Briefly, if you cause an accident, liability coverage pays for damages suffered by the other party. Collision insurance helps pay for repairing your own car after a crash. Comprehensive insurance covers you fro damages to your vehicle from things like storms, vandalism and theft. Personal injury protection helps defray the costs of your own medical events if you are hurt in an accident. And uninsured/underinsured coverage provides a policy holder additional protection in the event that your own injuries or property damages can not be covered by the responsible party’s insurance.

Auto Insurance Requirements in Virginia

Virginia is one of the only states that does not require a vehicle owner to carry insurance. You can opt to pay an Uninsured Motor Vehicle fee to the state of $500. But by doing so, you will be personally liable for any damages you cause with your car. The majority of drivers choose insurance. There are two main models of car insurance that states utilize: the no fault model and the at fault model. In a no fault model, each driver involved in an accident look to their own insurance companies to pay for losses, and their ability to pursue additional damages through the court system are limited. Proponents of no fault argue that by reducing the number of court cases, claims are paid to accident more quickly and efficiently. In the at fault model, the costs of medical bills and property damage are the responsibility of the driver who caused the accident and accident victims have greater access to pursue civil court damages over and above what insurance may pay out. Virginia follows that at fault model and requires all vehicle owners to carry $25,000 to cover bodily injury of one person in an accident caused by the responsible driver, $50,000 to for bodily injury of more than one person injured by the responsible driver, and $20,000 to cover property damage.

Average Cost of Coverage in Virginia

Virginia drivers are fortunate. The cost of full car insurance coverage in the state is under $1,000 per year, well below the national average of approximately $1,400. But, even with those low average costs, individual drivers can see some significant price differentials depending on their personal factors. Drivers with weak credit ratings can expect to $500 or more compared to motorists with strong credit. A newly licensed teenager can cost upwards of four to five times the cost of a thirty-something driver. Having a serious moving violation such as a DUI or a reckless driving conviction will add hundreds to your annual premium as will having a recent accident on your record. Also, increasing your liability coverage over the state recommended minimums will of course cost more, but will provide you with a better financial cushion.

Age Average Premium (yearly)
16 $4,182
17 $3,601
18 $3,155
19 $2,267
20s $1,242
30s $873
40s $834
50s $769
60s $802
70s $1,023

Cheapest Car Insurance Companies in Virginia

Many insurance providers, both big and small, serve the Virginia market, so car owners should not just take the first offer they see. USAA caters exclusively to providing insurance to members of the armed forces (and veterans, as well) and their premiums stack up very well against their competitors. Smaller regional insurance companies like Virginia Farm Bureau can also be bargains. Since there are so many factors involved in the price of insurance, it’s hard to say for sure who can give you the cheapest rates.

Rank Company Avg. Premium (annual)
1 Travelers $664
2 The Hartford $791
3 Erie $956
4 Utica National $969
5 Progressive $1,083
6 USAA $1,131

Unique Car Insurance Rules and Penalties in Virginia

As we mentioned, Virginia does not, in fact, require resident to carry insurance on their cars. But in our view, that is very foolhardy and most Virginians seem to feel the same way since less that 10% of drivers in the state are uninsured. But if you choose to do so, be aware that you must pay a $500 annual fee to the state.

Violation Avg. Annual Auto Insurance Rate % Insurance Rate Increase $ Insurance Rate Increase
Hit and Run $1,537 68% $620
Refused Breathalyzer/Chemical Test $1,509 64% $591
DUI $1,509 64% $591
Racing $1,375 50% $457
Reckless Driving $1,224 33% $306
Driving with a Suspended License $1,520 66% $602
At-Fault Accident $1,319 44% $402
Driving with an Open Container $1,171 28% $253
Operating a Vehicle Without Permission $1,162 27% $244
Passing a School Bus $1,210 32% $292
Improper Passing $1,091 19% $174
Following Too Closely $1,091 19% $174
Speeding $1,099 20% $182
Failure to Stop at a Red Light $1,091 19% $174
Illegal Turn $1,091 19% $174
Driving Wrong Way/Wrong Lane $1,091 19% $174
Failure to Yield $1,091 19% $174
Speeding in a School Zone $1,085 18% $168
Driving Too Slowly $1,085 18% $168
Distracted Driving $1,082 18% $164
Driving with Expired Registration $1,043 14% $125
Failure to Show Documents $994 8% $76
Not-at-Fault Accident $950 4% $33
Failure to Use Child Safety Restraint $997 9% $79
Failure to Wear a Seat Belt $970 6% $53
Driving Without Lights $997 9% $79

How to Get the Cheapest Car Insurance in Virginia

The secret to finding the cheapest car insurance coverage is to do what savvy shoppers always do – shop around! Get free quotes from three or more insurance companies - make sure that they are apples to apples – and you will see for yourself who is the least expensive. At General.com, we have an online price quote tool that can quickly get you multiple no cost, no obligation price quotes from multiple carriers with just a few keystrokes.

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