Car Insurance in Washington DC

Washington D.C. Car Insurance

All drivers in Washington D.C. must have car insurance as required by the Compulsory/No-Fault Motor Vehicle Insurance Act. The District of Columbia offers residents both:

  • Fault-based insurance.
  • No-fault coverage option.

Read below for more information about types of required and optional auto insurance coverage offered to Washington D.C. residents.

Required D.C. Car Insurance

Drivers in Washington D.C. must have liability coverage and uninsured motorist coverage.

NOTE: Although D.C. auto insurance companies offer a “no-fault" option that covers you regardless of who is found at fault in an accident, this type of coverage is not required.

Liability Coverage

Liability insurance covers only the other car and/or driver when an accident is your fault.

In Washington D.C., you must have minimum liability coverage of:

  • $25,000 per person, per accident for bodily injury.
  • $50,000 per accident for bodily injury.
    • You might see the above offered as “$25,000/$50,000."
  • $10,000 in property damage.

Uninsured Motorist Coverage

If you're in an accident with an uninsured driver, uninsured motorist insurance will cover:

  • You.
  • Your passengers.
  • Your car.

In Washington D.C., you must have minimum uninsured motorist coverage of:

  • $5,000 in property damage, minus a $200 deductible.
  • $25,000 per person, per accident for bodily injury.
  • $50,000 per accident for bodily injury.

All other auto insurance in D.C. is optional.

Optional Car Insurance in D.C.

Washington D.C. car insurance providers also offer a variety of optional coverage that helps pay for costs that liability and uninsured motorist insurance do not cover.

Personal Injury Protection (PIP)

Personal injury protection (PIP) helps cover your costs in a car accident, regardless of who has been found at fault for the accident.

If you elect to purchase personal injury protection (PIP) and you are involved in a car accident, you must decide within 60 days of the date of the accident whether to:

  • Use your PIP coverage to cover accident-related costs.
  • Make a claim and/or file a lawsuit with the other driver's insurance company.

NOTE: Using your PIP coverage means that you cannot bring a claim or lawsuit against the other driver.

Other Optional Coverage

Washington D.C. insurance agents can provide car insurance quotes that include several more types of coverage:

  • Collision coverage helps cover accident-related damages to your car.
  • Comprehensive coverage covers damage to your car caused by non-accident-related incidents or factors, such as theft, extreme weather, and wildlife.
  • Underinsured motorist covers damage or loss caused by someone who does not have adequate car insurance to cover your costs.
  • Rental car coverage (often called “loss of use").
  • Roadside assistance/towing coverage.

NOTE: If you are financing or leasing your car, your finance company will require that you have both collision coverage and comprehensive coverage.

Proof of Insurance in Washington D.C.

The Washington D.C. Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) requires that you show proof of auto insurance to register your car or renew your registration.

You are also required to show proof of insurance if you are stopped by a police officer or involved in an accident.

The DMV will accept any of the following as proof of insurance:

  • Insurance policy.
  • Insurance card.
  • Certification letter on insurance company letterhead.

Failure to show proof of insurance when stopped can lead to penalties/fines. For example, if you cannot show proof of insurance (even if you hold a valid policy), you're subject to a $30 civil fine.

Driving Without Car Insurance

Washington D.C. imposes suspensions and fines on drivers who do not have the minimum required car insurance coverage. Your insurance company will report any lapse in coverage to the DMV.

Failure to have minimum liability coverage and uninsured motorist coverage results in the following penalties and fines:

  • Suspended registration tag or reciprocity sticker.
  • $150 fine for up to 30 days of lapsed coverage.
  • An additional $7 per day for each day the lapse over 30 days (up to $2,500).

Once you have a current Washington D. C. car insurance policy, you can contact the DMV to arrange a 6-month payment plan, which will allow you to get a temporary registration while you pay off your fines.

Insurance for High-Risk Drivers

If you are deemed a high-risk driver in D.C. and you cannot find an insurance company that will offer you coverage, you can apply for car insurance through the District of Columbia Automobile Insurance Plan (DCAIP).

You can apply for DCAIP coverage through a licensed Washington D.C. auto insurance agent or broker.

SR22 in D.C.

You may be legally required to get an SR22 form, sometimes referred to as SR-22 insurance, from your insurance provider if you have been fined for or convicted of certain violations, including:

  • DUI/DWI.
  • Reckless driving.
  • Other moving violations.

An SR22 is a certification from your insurance company that guarantees your coverage for the period of time required by the DMV.

The DMV will notify you if you are required to file an SR22.

Car Insurance Fraud & Disputes

Car insurance fraud and other insurance concerns can be handled by a variety of organizations.

Washington D.C. car insurance is regulated by the District of Columbia Department of Insurance, Securities and Banking (DISB).

The DISB offers several ways for you to report fraud and can offer assistance if you have other car insurance concerns.

Car Insurance Fraud

Car insurance fraud costs insurance companies a lot of money, and those losses get passed down to you in the form of higher premiums. Reporting fraud helps keep insurance rates low.

Auto insurance fraud includes:

  • Making a false claim.
  • Staging an accident.
  • Forging or falsifying insurance documents.
  • Selling insurance without a license.

If you suspect car insurance fraud in Washington D.C., you can report it to the DISB online by completing the online fraud report/complaint form.

Car Insurance Disputes

If you have an issue with an insurance company,such as a disputed claim or concern about your premium, you should first contact the company in writing to resolve the issue.

If you are not satisfied with the company's response, you can contact the DISB using theonline fraud report/complaint form.

The DISB can make inquiries, help clarify information, and facilitate a resolution.

The DISB cannot provide legal representation, become involved in an existing lawsuit, or offer a decision about negligence, fault, or the value of a claim.

Determining Your Car Insurance Rate

Washington D.C. auto insurance companies base their rates on various factors:

  • Your credit history.
  • Your driving record.
  • Your car's make, model, and features, including safety features.
  • Your chosen deductible (the out-of-pocket amount you pay if you make a claim).

Points on your driver's license for traffic violations, including DUI and DWI violations, can raise your insurance rates because your driving record is an important factor in determining your car insurance rates.

Discounts on Washington D.C. Car Insurance

Many D.C. car insurance companies offer discounts to drivers, which will help you save money on your car insurance rates.

Discount availability and amount varies among car insurance providers. Most auto insurance companies offer rate discounts for:

  • Safe driving history, including special discounts for accident-free drivers.
  • Car safety features like airbags.
  • Good grades for full time students.
  • Multiple vehicles on one policy.
  • Multiple policies with one insurance company.
  • Completion of approved driver safety courses.

Driving carefully and keeping a clean driver history will give you the best chance of getting the lowest car insurance rates.

Most Stolen Cars in D.C.

Owning a car that is often targeted for theft can increase your car insurance rates.

The following is a list of the most stolen cars in the District of Columbia for 2013, according to

  1. Dodge Caravan.
  2. Honda Accord.
  3. Jeep Cherokee/Grand Cherokee.
  4. Toyota Camry.
  5. Ford Crown Victoria.
  6. Nissan Altima.
  7. Toyota Corolla.
  8. Honda Civic.
  9. Dodge Intrepid.
  10. Chrysler Town & Country.
DMV.ORG BBB Business Review