Washington, D.C. Car Insurance Laws

You’ll need 25/50/10 liability coverage, UMBI, and UMPD to legally drive in D.C.
Written by Liz Jenson
Edited by Sarah Gray
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Washington, D.C.
car insurance
requirements include 25/50/10 liability coverage, uninsured motorist bodily injury coverage (UMBI), and uninsured motorist property damage coverage (UMPD). However, drivers should consider carrying additional protection.

Car insurance requirements in Washington, D.C.

Under Washington, D.C. law, drivers are required to carry 25/50/10
liability insurance coverage
and
uninsured motorist coverage (UIM)
. Let’s take a closer look at each.

Liability coverage requirements

Liability insurance is a type of third-party insurance that pays for damages and injuries sustained by the other driver in an
at-fault accident
. There are two basic types of liability insurance:
  • Bodily injury liability coverage
    pays for the other party’s medical expenses in an accident you cause. You’ll see required limits per person (the maximum payout for a single person’s injuries) and per accident (the maximum payout for a single accident).
  • Property damage liability coverage
    pays for damages to the other driver’s physical property (such as their car) after an accident you cause.
In D.C., you’ll be legally required to carry liability coverage in the following amounts:1
  • $25,000 of bodily injury liability (or, “third-party coverage”) per person
  • $50,000 of bodily injury liability per accident
  • $10,000 of property damage liability per accident

Uninsured motorist coverage requirements

Unlike liability coverage,
uninsured motorist coverage
provides a payout if you’re in a
not-at-fault accident
with a driver who isn’t carrying liability coverage. This coverage will give you a payout to help cover the resulting damages.
UM coverage can also be broken down into two types of coverage:
  • Uninsured motorist bodily injury liability coverage (UMBI): Drivers with UMBI can file a personal injury claim with their own insurance company if they are hurt in an accident with an uninsured driver. This is the most common type of UM coverage.
  • Uninsured motorist property damage liability coverage (UMPD): With UMPD, drivers can also file claims for property damage following an accident with an uninsured driver. This is significantly less common but is required in some states and Washington, D.C.
Before they can hit the road, D.C. drivers are required by law to carry at least:
  • $25,000 of UMBI per person
  • $50,000 of UMBI per accident
  • $5,000 of UMPD per accident (subject to a $200 deductible)

Most drivers need more than the minimum required coverage

While choosing to carry the minimum required auto insurance will result in the lowest premiums, opting for the D.C. minimum could cost you in the event of an accident. This is because:
  • Liability insurance won’t cover your own bills after an accident: Liability insurance will only pay for damages and injuries sustained by the other driver, and UM coverage won’t apply unless you weren’t at fault and the other driver was uninsured. Therefore, you’re likely to face lots of out-of-pocket costs if you get into an accident without additional coverage for you and your vehicle.
  • Some damages may exceed your coverage limits: According to the
    Insurance Information Institute (III)
    , the average auto liability claim for property damage in 2022 was $5,313, and the average bodily injury liability claim was $24,211 in that same year.2 This means even if the resulting claims from an at-fault accident are just slightly above average, you might not have adequate coverage to pay for the resulting damages—and you certainly won’t have enough UMPD.
  • You might get sued if your coverage isn’t adequate: If you don’t have enough coverage to pay for the damages and/or medical bills resulting from an at-fault accident, you could be hit with a lawsuit—leaving you to pay additional damages, court costs, and lawyer fees out-of-pocket.
Optional coverage in Washington D.C.
Here are the optional types of coverage you can add to your Washington, D.C. insurance policy:
View optional coverages

Our recommendation

With all of that in mind, we recommend supplementing your D.C. minimum insurance policy with additional coverage. 
At
Jerry
, our expert insurance agents recommend carrying at least 100/300/100 liability insurance. Doing so will typically only increase your premiums by a few dollars each month, while potentially saving you thousands in out-of-pocket costs and court fees after an accident.
We also recommend purchasing
full coverage
, including collision and comprehensive insurance to pay for physical damages after an accident plus coverage for medical bills, such as Personal Injury Protection (PIP).
To learn more about your coverage and payment options, you can use the
Jerry
app to customize your car insurance coverage levels when you shop for quotes.

How much does car insurance cost in Washington, D.C.?

The average Washington, D.C. driver can expect to pay approximately $77 per month for legal minimum liability car insurance, or about $930 per year. Meanwhile, drivers with a full coverage policy can expect to pay approximately $185 monthly, or about $2,225 annually.
Here’s how much D.C. drivers who shop with Jerry pay on average per month for their car insurance from different providers:
Provider
Minimum coverage
Full coverage
$80
$173
$74
$247
$118
$349
$127
$176
$70
$195
$38
$211
$104
$202
$78
$217
$29
$124
However, it’s important to note that average rates may look very different from your personalized premiums, and the cheapest car insurance rates for one driver may not be available to you from the same car insurance company. 
Car insurance rates vary a lot based on factors like:
  • Age
  • Driving history, including speeding tickets, at-fault accidents, DUIs, and other convictions
  • Credit history
  • Zip code (even within the same city)
To get a better idea of your potential rates, compare quotes from at least three different insurance providers. It’s easy to do this with
Jerry
, where you can browse quotes for minimum and full coverage policies, compare rates, and find the most affordable policy for your needs.
Find the best coverage at the best rate in D.C.
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The penalties for driving without insurance in Washington, D.C.

Even if you can’t afford all of the coverage options you want, it’s very important to purchase at least the minimum required insurance coverage in Washington, D.C. 
Potential consequences for being caught driving without insurance include:4
  • Fines of $150 to $2,500 for having an unregistered vehicle 
  • A fine of $500 for driving without insurance, with the amount increasing 50% for every subsequent offense
  • License suspension for up to 60 days for noncompliance 
To prevent this, purchase a valid car insurance policy and make sure your car is registered with the D.C. Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV).

Ways to find cheap car insurance in Washington, D.C.

If you’re worried about making payments on your D.C. insurance, there are several ways to save. Some options include:
  • Shop around: To ensure you’re getting the best deal, shop around with multiple providers and gather several car insurance quotes. With
    Jerry
    , you can compare quotes, discount options, and benefits from multiple providers at once.
  • Bundle your policies: Many car insurance providers offer other types of coverage, too, such as renters insurance or homeowners insurance, giving you bundling opportunities. Under these providers, you may be able to
    bundle your policies
    at a discounted rate.
  • Check for discounts: All providers offer
    car insurance discounts
    of one kind or another. Check to see if you’re eligible for things like
    safe driver discounts
    ,
    telematics discounts
    ,
    military discounts
    ,
    good student discounts
    , or other types of savings.
  • Maintain a
    clean driving record
    : If you’re able to avoid at-fault accidents, speeding tickets, and other traffic violations, your provider will reward your safe driving with a better insurance rate.
  • Improve your credit score: Drivers with a
    good credit score
    see significantly better car insurance rates than drivers with poor credit. Look for ways to improve your credit to qualify for a better rate at policy renewal.5

FAQ

What’s the best car insurance company in Washington, D.C.?

There’s no single best insurance company in any state or territory since insurance rates are highly personalized. With that being said, drivers in D.C. find low average rates with
Nationwide
and
Travelers
.

Is insurance required in the District of Columbia?

Yes, car insurance is required in Washington, D.C. Drivers must purchase at least 25/50/10
liability insurance
and 25/50/5
uninsured motorist coverage
.

How do D.C. insurance rates compare to the national average?

National average insurance rates
are $165 per month ($1,985 annually) for
full coverage
, while D.C. insurance rates for full coverage average at $185 per month ($2,225 annually).

Is insurance cheaper in Washington, D.C. or the surrounding states?

Full coverage
insurance in
Virginia
averages at $130 per month ($1,564 annually), while in
Maryland
you can expect rates closer to $192 per month ($2,299 annually). Compare this to D.C., where rates average $185 per month ($2,225 annually). Regardless, though, you’ll need to purchase insurance in your state or territory of residence.

Meet our experts

avatar
Liz Jenson
Liz Jenson is an insurance writer who specializes in general automotive and insurance topics. Liz’s mission is to produce informative and useful content to help car owners make smart choices when buying cars and car insurance. Since joining Jerry in 2021, Liz has written nearly 4,000 long- and short-form articles on topics including state-specific insurance recommendations, common car insurance questions, and deep dives into vehicle model details.
Before they came to Jerry, Liz was a full-time student at Indiana University, Bloomington working on a double major in English and French.
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Sarah Gray
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Licensed Insurance Agent — Expert Insurance Writer and Editor
Sarah Gray is an insurance writer with nearly a decade of experience in publishing and writing. Sarah specializes in writing articles that educate car owners and buyers on the full scope of car ownership—from shopping for and buying a new car to scrapping one that’s breathed its last and everything in between. Sarah has authored over 1,500 articles for Jerry on topics ranging from first-time buyer programs to how to get a salvage title for a totaled car.
Prior to joining Jerry, Sarah was a full-time professor of English literature and composition with multiple academic writing publications.

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