The Compulsory Insurance Law
Per the Compulsory Insurance Law, which is designed to protect vehicle drivers and passengers, West Virginia requires that all vehicles be covered by liability insurance. When you renew your vehicle’s registration, you must sign a statement indicating that the vehicle is insured.
Proof of insurance must be located in the vehicle at all times, and all registered vehicles are subject to random insurance verification by sample or by being stopped by a police officer.
Minimum Insurance Requirements
The minimum requirements for vehicle insurance are as follows:
$10,000: to cover property damages
$20,000: to cover one injury or death
$40,000: to cover two injuries or deaths
Accidents and Uninsured Drivers
Regardless of the law and minimum requirements, there may come a time when you have an accident involving an uninsured vehicle. In the event of such an accident, you may file for judgment with the civil court and after the judgment is granted, submit a copy of the accident report and court order to the Division of Motor Vehicles (DMV).
The DMV will send a suspension notice to the uninsured defendant, and suspension will stay in effect until he or she pays the judgment in full or enters an installment agreement.
If you decide to cancel your insurance, or your vehicle becomes inoperable or out of use and doesn’t require insurance, you must submit an Owner’s Notice of Cancellation, form WV-4C to the DMV, identifying the reason for cancellation.
If you have a vehicle that you only use seasonally, such as a motorcycle, camper, antique car, or a vehicle specifically for hunting, it’s only required to be insured during the time of year it’s used. When it’s not being used, you must submit a Seasonal Statement of Insurance, form WV-4B to the DMV.
West Virginia enforces strict administrative and criminal penalties for owners/drivers of uninsured vehicles. Administrative penalties and criminal penalties have nothing to do with each other. For example, if you’re required to appear in court and the charges are dropped, you’ll still have to provide proof of insurance to the DMV.
Vehicle Registration Suspension
Failing to show proof of insurance will cause your vehicle registration to be suspended. To reinstate your registration, you’ll need to show proof of insurance to the DMV and pay the $100 fee, plus an extra $50 if the DMV sends a state-police secure order on your license plate.
Driver’s License Suspension
Failing to show proof of insurance during a sample check will cause your driver’s license to be suspended for 30 days. A first offense lack of insurance reported by a police officer or insurance company will cause your license to be suspended for 30 days, and a second offense will suspend your license for 90 days. After the suspension, you’ll need to pay a $50 reinstatement fee. To reinstate your registration and/or driver’s license, you must obtain insurance, send proof and reinstatement fees to the DMV, and wait for a reinstatement date, which will be after your suspension ends.
For more information regarding suspension and reinstatements, visit the official West Virginia DMV Web site or contact them at:
Compulsory Insurance Section
Room 118, Building 3, Capitol Complex
Charleston, WV 25317
1-800-642-9066 or (304) 558-0274
– John H. Bryan, West Virginia Car Accident Attorney