Virginia is in the top 10 for least expensive auto insurance coverage. The average car insurance premium for Virginia drivers is $1,237 per year. This number does vary from one city to the next and may fluctuate depending on your specific neighborhood. Additionally, your policy may cost more or less than the state average depending on the specific coverage that you choose. Nevertheless, where you live does play an important role in determining your insurance cost; if you’ve recently moved to Virginia, your premiums may change, so you should be prepared.

Several factors influence your car insurance rates. At a geographic level, insurance companies are primarily interested in an area’s traffic, the number of uninsured drivers, local DUI statistics, crime rates and weather patterns. All of these things can cause insurance rates to fluctuate because they contribute to claims being filed; any time a vehicle is at an increased risk of receiving damage, the insurance for that vehicle will cost more than a similar vehicle that is not at risk.

The population of an area plays an important role in this. Large cities with heavily congested traffic will usually have higher insurance rates than other areas. Cities with buses, subways or other public transportation will have a lower risk of traffic-related accidents as fewer people will need to use city streets to commute to work or school.

Virginia has a low incidence of uninsured motorists. Only 8 percent of drivers in Virginia are uninsured, compared to 12 percent in Maryland and 15 percent in Washington, D.C. A low population of uninsured drivers means that your insurance company is more likely to be able to recover its money in the event of a not-at-fault accident; this translates to lower premiums and is likely one reason for Virginia’s low cost of insurance.

Drunk driving is also not as much of a concern in Virginia as it is in other states. In 2009, for example, there were only 243 drinking-related fatalities; Texas, on the other hand, had 1,235 that same year. There were however fewer drinking-related deaths in neighboring Maryland and D.C.

Crime rate plays a role in insurance rates as well. Areas with a high incidence of vandalism and theft will have higher premiums than areas without these concerns. Generally, auto theft rates will coincide with other types of crimes, especially drug-related crime, and tend to be concentrated along country borders. Virginia has a relatively low incidence of theft, although vandalism is common in some poor neighborhoods.

Weather is another a factor in car insurance rates. Areas with temperate climates will have fewer weather-related accidents than places with heavy ice and snow. Hail is a major cause of auto damage, so areas prone to hail will have higher insurance rates. The same is true of coastal areas that are prone to flooding.

Car Insurance Requirements in Virginia

Virginia requires all drivers to carry liability insurance with a minimum of $20,000 per accident for vehicle damage. You must also carry at least $25,000/$50,000 of injury liability insurance. If you can afford it, you may wish to increase your liability limits above the state minimum as any damage or injuries you cause will be billed to you directly if the they exceed the limits of your policy. This can lead to a lawsuit and can damage your credit if the bill is not paid promptly.

One unique thing about Virginia car insurance is that the state does allow you to drive a vehicle without insurance if you pay a fee of $500 to the DMV each time you register your vehicle. This provides you no protection in the event of an accident, so you are driving at your own risk and are still responsible for paying for any accidents out of pocket.

Your Virginia auto insurance policy must also require you to carry uninsured motorist coverage, most likely because of the risk of a collision with someone who had chosen to pay the fine and opt out of insurance. Uninsured motorist coverage pays for damage to your vehicle in the event that you are hit by someone without coverage; you can also buy uninsured motorist injury coverage that will pay for medical expenses resulting from an auto accident. Your uninsured motorist coverage will usually have the same limit as your liability insurance.

If you have a new or valuable vehicle you will also want to purchase collision and comprehensive coverage. These will pay for your vehicle whenever it’s involved in an accident or damaged by weather, vandalism or other non-accident-related incidents. If you have an older vehicle, full coverage auto insurance may not be worth the price.

You can also purchase rental reimbursement coverage in Virginia to pay for the cost of renting a vehicle while your car is being repaired after an accident. Most companies in the state offer this as a lump sum limit that you cannot exceed, often $600 or $900. This means that the cheaper the vehicle you rent, the longer you will be able to keep the rental, up to the time the vehicle is repaired or replaced by insurance.

If you’ve just moved to the state or are looking for a way to save money on insurance, you can begin your search by receiving a free quote online. Once you’ve chosen a company, you can discuss your specific coverage needs with the sales representative or agent. You can also ask if there are any discounts you might qualify for.