LEGAL GUIDE
Written by attorney Blair D. Howard | Mar 13, 2012

Driving Uninsured in Virginia is Legal! Learn about the Uninsured Motor Vehicle Fee

The majority of states require all motor vehicle drivers to have a form of auto insurance in the case of an accident. Drivers who are pulled over by a police officer and are unable to show proof of insurance are likely to be ticketed and fined. However, there are a few states in which drivers have an alternative option to auto insurance.

New Hampshire does not require drivers to purchase car insurance, but drivers are fully responsible for paying the cost of any damages that they cause. When you consider that the average costs associated with a minor car accident are between $200-$1,000, it is easy to see why the majority of Americans cannot afford to be without insurance. The term “minor damage" usually indicates that there is nothing significantly wrong with the vehicle and that no one was injured in the accident. The average expense for major damage car accidents usually runs above $5,000 and can rapidly increase with the addition of medical costs such as continuing rehabilitation.

Virginia and South Carolina take a slightly different approach to the issue of auto insurance. Drivers in these two states can opt to pay the $500 uninsured motorist fee (UMV) instead of purchasing a car insurance plan. This fee does not buy the user any insurance and the driver is still held fully liable for damages that result from an accident that was their fault.

The UMV has been around since 1958 in the state of Virginia, and drivers must pay the fee every year in addition to normal registration fees. If you have paid the UMV fee and you are pulled over by a police officer, you won’t be ticketed for driving without insurance if you are able to show proof that you’ve paid the fee. Critics of the uninsured motorist fee argue that, depending on where you live and your age, you may be able to purchase a no-frills auto insurance policy for less than $500 a year.

Out of the 5.4 million drivers licensed in Virginia, only 2,425 paid the voluntary fee as of last year. The UMV has not been exceedingly popular in Virginia or South Carolina, and this may be because South Carolina has a list of requirements to become a legal uninsured driver among other reasons. One thing is for certain, the number of car accidents in Virginia has not decreased. If you or someone you love have suffered injury in a car accident, protecting your legal rights is just as important as the type of car insurance you have purchased. Call a Virginia personal injury lawyer who can provide you with more information on the best way to be protected from the costs of a car accident.

Additional resources provided by the author

The superior legal team at Howard, Morrison, Ross & Whelan provide high-quality legal counsel and representation for individuals and families throughout Virginia. When you have suffered injury or harm in a car accident, it is vitally important to secure the help of a legal advocate who is committed to your recovery. The firm is comprised of talented injury attorneys who have experience handling all types of car accident claims, and they are waiting to provide you with the representation you need. From investigating the scene of your accident to securing witness to prove your case, a Virginia personal injury attorney at the firm will carefully build a successful case for you..

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