The state of Virginia requires residents to establish financial responsibility before they can legally drive a vehicle or motorcycle. Financial responsibility means you have a way to pay for the potential expenses involved in a motorcycle accident. Some states allow you to self-insure or prove financial responsibility in other ways, but Virginia is not one of them. The only way to establish responsibility is by purchasing liability coverage from an insurance carrier that has been licensed in the state.
If you cannot or do not want to pay for insurance, you have the option of paying the Uninsured Motor Vehicle fee. This option doesn’t give you any coverage. It allows you to remain uninsured, but you will need to assume all financial responsibility should your motorcycle cause damage. This is not recommended.
Defining Two-Wheeled Vehicles
The definition of a motorcycle varies from state to state. The Virginia DMV website has a full definition of mopeds, scooters, and motorcycles. Any vehicle classified as a motorcycle must be registered and meet minimum insurance requirements if you intend to drive it on state roads. If you intend to operate only on privately owned roads, you aren’t legally required to purchase insurance coverage.
Certain mopeds and scooters fit the definition of a motorcycle and therefore require registering by the state. You may need to purchase motorcycle insurance for these. Double check Virginia’s definition of motorcycles.
Motorcycle Insurance Requirements
If you purchase insurance rather than paying the opt-out fee, you must meet the following minimum requirements:
- $25,000 in coverage for the bodily injury or death of one individual
- $50,000 in coverage for the bodily injury or death of multiple individuals
- $20,000 in property damage coverage
Many motorcycle owners also purchase additional coverage types. The minimum insurance requirements aren’t guaranteed to protect you from all financial costs in the event of an accident. You’ll be safer financially if you purchase a full coverage insurance plan. The only drawback of more insurance coverage is that your monthly premiums will be higher. Many insurance websites will let you compare and contrast their policies, and you can also talk to your motorcycle insurance agent about the policy that’s best for you.
Virginia law requires all motorcyclists to wear helmets. Helmet coverage does not affect minimum insurance requirements because everyone must wear one.
The DMV uses an electronic reporting method to keep track of insurance policies. Your insurance company will inform the DMV when you begin a new policy. They’ll also inform the DMV when your policy expires or you terminate your policy.
Proof of Insurance
You will not need to bring proof of insurance to the DMV, because the DMV already has an electronic record of your insurance coverage. However, you still need to carry proof of insurance with you. You’ll need to be able to display proof of insurance to law enforcement officials or involved parties in a potential accident. Your insurance card, given to you by your carrier, counts as this proof.
Penalties for Failing to Maintain Insurance Coverage
If you let your insurance coverage lapse or you fail to provide adequate proof of insurance, you could face the following penalties:
- Suspension of your registration, license plate, and driver’s license
- A statutory fee of $500 on top of your license and registration reinstatement fees
- You will have to submit a financial responsibility certificate for three years
If you need more information regarding the insurance policies in the state, you can call your local DMV office.