Operating a vehicle in West Virginia comes with certain automobile insurance requirements. Failure to purchase the minimum required insurance can lead to fines and citations for neglect to obey the state’s laws. Knowing what insurance you need and what optional coverage is available can help you operate within the law while on the roads in West Virginia. Here’s what our West Virginia auto accident lawyers want you to know about car insurance requirements in The Mountain State.
Minimum Coverage Requirements in West Virginia
Compulsory Insurance Law serves to help motorists in West Virginia stay protected from having to pay damages out of pocket. Without insurance, many people could not afford to repair property damage to vehicles or pay for accident-related medical care. Car insurance is an important part of owning and operating a vehicle. If you do not deal with a car insurance cancellation properly, you could accidentally break the Compulsory Insurance Law. This is a common mistake motorists make. As of January 1, 2016, the minimum amount of automobile insurance required in West Virginia is as follows:
- $25,000 for one crash with one injury
- $50,000 for one crash with two or more injuries
- $25,000 for property damage
These rates have increased since the previous requirements, which stipulated $20,000 for one crash, one injury; $40,000 for one crash with two or more injuries; and $10,000 for property damage. You should have received a notification from your insurance carrier as of January 1, 2016, regarding the increased requirements. Make sure you carry the current coverage minimums to avoid penalties and fees.
The law also requires certain amounts of uninsured motorist coverage. This type of coverage will pay for your damages in the event that you are in an accident with an at-fault, uninsured motorist. The minimums are the same as liability coverage minimums listed above. Underinsured motorist coverage is optional, but helps motorists cover the costs of damages if the other driver does not have enough insurance to do so.
Optional Additional Coverage
West Virginia’s laws require that all insurance carriers offer optional higher limits of coverage, and the option to purchase additional (not required) coverage. Additional coverage will increase your insurance premiums but can be a great relief in certain types of accidents. Additional coverage options include:
- Higher limits for uninsured motorist coverage
- Collision insurance
- Comprehensive insurance
- Medical payments
Note that a vehicle loan or leasing agreement may require additional coverage that the West Virginia Compulsory Insurance Law does not. Pay attention to your unique requirements in these specific situations.
Penalties for Inadequate Coverage
The Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) now has an electronic insurance verification program, the West Virginia Online Verification, which assists the DMV and police officers in enforcing the state’s automobile insurance requirements. At traffic stops, car accident sites, at the time of vehicle registration, and for monthly verification of registered vehicles, police and the DMV can use the Online Verification system to verify the existence of motor vehicle insurance in real time. This system makes it easier to find and penalize drivers who do not carry the required minimum insurance amount.
You must carry proof of automobile insurance with you in your vehicle during operation. This must be in the form of a Certificate of Insurance from your insurance carrier. If you violate the state’s minimum coverage and proof of insurance laws, you could face suspension of your vehicle’s registration, plate surrender, and/or suspension of your driver’s license. If you provide false insurance information, penalties include mandatory 90-day license suspension, car revocation, jail time up to one year, and a maximum fine of $1,000. Make sure you maintain the minimum requirements at all times to avoid these penalties.