10+ years in insurance and personal finance content
30+ years in media, PR, and content creation
Evelyn leads Insurify’s content team. She’s passionate about creating empowering content to help people transform their financial lives and make sound insurance-buying decisions.
Updated October 10, 2023 at 12:00 PM PDT
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For decades, Virginia and New Hampshire have been the only two states that allow drivers to skip buying car insurance. But that’s changing in Virginia.
Effective July 1, 2024, every driver in the commonwealth who wants to register a vehicle or renew a registration will have to purchase at least the state’s minimum amount of liability insurance. And the penalties for driving uninsured in Virginia are significant.
That said, the rule change isn’t likely to affect many Virginia drivers — most already buy car insurance.
Virginia’s uninsured motorist fee
Most states require drivers to have at least a minimum level of car insurance before they can register a vehicle. But in Virginia, drivers could register their vehicles and forgo buying car insurance by paying an annual $500 uninsured motor vehicle fee.
Revenue from the fees goes into Virginia’s Uninsured Motorist Fund, which is intended to help insurance companies cover uninsured motorist claims.
Uninsured motor vehicle fees contributed $650,000 to the fund in 2022, according to the Virginia Department of Planning and Budget. At $500 per driver, that $650,000 accounts for 1,300 Virginians who registered uninsured vehicles in 2022.
By comparison, U.S. Census data shows that the commonwealth has a population of more than 8.6 million, 79% of whom are older than 18 — and likely are licensed drivers. And drivers who registered uninsured vehicles aren’t the only ones driving without insurance — nearly 11% of Virginia drivers don’t have car insurance, according to a 2021 study by the Insurance Research Council.
Virginia’s “General Assembly has eliminated the uninsured motor vehicle fee effective July 1, 2024,” says Jillian Cowherd, spokesperson for the Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles. “Anyone who previously paid the UMV fee must now obtain vehicle insurance that meets or exceeds Virginia’s liability insurance requirements.”
Virginia drivers won’t be able to register a vehicle without at least the commonwealth’s minimum-required amount of liability coverage.
Virginia currently requires $30,000 per person and $60,000 per accident for bodily injury coverage, and $20,000 for property damage coverage. Those limits are set to rise to $50,000, $100,000, and $25,000, respectively, for policies effective on or after Jan. 1, 2025.
Why it was changed
SB 951, the bill that repeals the uninsured motor vehicle fee, passed the commonwealth’s legislature in February 2023. Sponsored by Republican Sen. Frank Ruff, the bill passed with bipartisan support, the Virginia Mercury reported.
“You and I both pay for uninsured drivers,” Ruff told the Richmond Times-Dispatch. “Hopefully, this will slow down any rise and maybe even push premiums down.”
Penalties for driving uninsured in Virginia
Uninsured drivers who cause accidents are usually entirely responsible for the property damage and medical costs of the injured driver and passengers. Most states also apply penalties for uninsured driving.
In Virginia, the DMV can suspend drivers’ licenses and vehicle registrations, fine them $600, and require them to file a Financial Responsibility Certificate (SR-22) with the DMV for three years. They may also have to pay a reinstatement fee.
What drivers should do by July 1, 2024
Drivers who previously registered uninsured motor vehicles will need to buy a liability policy — meeting the state’s minimum requirements — from an insurance company licensed to operate in Virginia, Cowherd says.
“They’ll need to renew the registration on the vehicle with the updated insurance information prior to July 1, 2024,” she says. The DMV will verify the insurance information with the insurance company.
“Drivers should be prepared to show proof of insurance in the future, if requested by the Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles.”
Evelyn Pimplaskar is Insurify’s director of content. With 30-plus years in content creation – including 10 years specializing in personal finance – Evelyn’s done everything from covering volatile local elections as a beat reporter to building fintech content libraries from the ground up.
Before joining Insurify, she was editor-in-chief at Credible, where she launched and developed the lending marketplace’s media partnership’s content initiative and managed the restructuring of the editorial team to enhance content production efficiency. Formerly, as tax editor for Credit Karma, Evelyn built a library of more than 300 educational articles on federal and state taxes, achieving triple-digit year-over-year growth in e-files from organic search.
Her early career included work as a content marketer, vice president and managing officer of a boutique public relations agency, chief copy editor for 14 weekly Forbes publications, reporting for large and mid-sized daily newspapers, and freelancing for the Associated Press.
Evelyn is passionate about creating personal finance content that distills complex topics into relatable, easy-to-understand stories. She believes great content helps empower readers with the information they need to make important personal finance decisions.