District of Columbia Auto Insurance

As a way of protecting drivers from accidents caused by at-fault drivers who are uninsured and unable to pay for damages, auto insurance is required in almost all states. While these requirements don’t typically include comprehensive and collision coverage, they do require a minimum amount of liability insurance. If you’re living in, or planning on moving to, the Washington, D.C. area, be prepared to pay high premiums even if you’re a good driver. Washington, D.C. has the fourth highest auto insurances rates in the nation. There are various reasons why drivers in the district pay such high premiums, and it is why drivers should do their best to remain adequately insured.

What is Required for Drivers in Washington, D.C.?

Washington, D.C. is what is referred to as a “no-fault” district. This means that your insurance company will pay accident-related damages regardless of who was at fault. The payments will come out of the driver’s personal injury protection and can be used to pay for medical bills and lost wages. Although insurance companies in the DC area offer the “no-fault” coverage, it is not a legal requirement.

What is required here is that driver’s carry liability coverage and uninsured motorist coverage. Drivers must show proof of insurance when they register their vehicle. Anyone who does not carry the required insurance in Washington, D.C. are subject to fines and suspensions. Failure to have the required insurance can result in the following:

  • Suspended registration
  • Fine of $150 for up to 30 days of lapsed coverage
  • Additional $7 for each day of no coverage after 30 days

Liability and uninsured motorists are not the only types of insurance coverages offered to drivers in the D.C. area. They’re just the only ones that are required by law. Other types of coverage include:

  • Collision – Helps pay for damages to your vehicle from a collision.
  • Comprehensive – Helps pay for damages to the car caused by things other than a collision such as weather, theft, or animals.
  • Underinsured motorist – Covers loss or damage by a driver who is underinsured.
  • Uninsured motorist – Covers loss or damage by a driver with no insurance. It covers the driver, passengers, and the car.
  • Personal injury protection (PIP) – This covers accident-related damages regardless of who is at fault.
  • Rental – Allows you to rent a car if yours has to go into the shop for repairs.
  • Roadside assistance – Helps with flat tires, locked-in keys, and other small problems.

Minimum Auto Insurance Requirements in Washington, D.C.

Drivers in Washington, D.C. must have at least the following amounts of uninsured motorist coverage.

  • $25,000 for bodily injury per person, per accident

  • $50,000 for bodily injury per accident

  • $5,000 for property damages after a $200 deductible


$25,000 for bodily injury per person, per accident
$50,000 for bodily injury per accident
$5,000 for property damages after a $200 deductible

While these numbers are the minimum amounts of liability insurance a driver must have in the D.C. district, this doesn’t mean it’s the only amount they can carry. Insurance companies not only offer higher amounts but recommend it. It’s not unusual for a simple case of whiplash to result in a payout of $25,000 or more. Accidents that cause serious damage can result in much higher lawsuits.

Many auto accidents that involve serious injuries or fatalities can result in payouts in the six-figure range. There really is no such thing as being over-insured when it comes to auto liability insurance coverage. It’s always better to have too much coverage than not enough.

What Car Insurance Things are Specific to Washington, D.C.?

Drivers may wonder why insurance rates are so much higher in the Washington, D.C. area. There are several contributing factors. One factor is that the D.C. area was ranked as the nation’s 28thworst city in which to drive. They got this ranking based on the following driving factors and conditions.

  • Weather

    The D.C. area is famous for the cold, wet winter months where rain, sleet, and snow are very common, which make the roads slippery, decreases visibility, and causes more accidents. Their rain totals in the summer are also higher than the national average.
  • Road conditions

    This district has some of the worst roads in the U.S., which can cause damage to your vehicles.
  • Heavy traffic

    Washington D.C. was ranked 18th in the world in terms of its traffic congestion, which adds more time spent on the road.
  • Car accidents

    There are a lot of car accidents in this region, which increases insurance premiums. In 2016, more than 39,000 people were injured in car accidents in the D.C. area.

Although Washington, D.C. is a fairly safe city in terms of traffic fatalities, it’s an area that’s high in car accidents, vehicle thefts, and traffic tickets. All of these things can increase the amount drivers pay for auto insurance.

Ways to Lower Your Insurance Rates in Washington, D.C.

It seems that no matter how affordable our auto insurance may be, it’s still always too high for our liking. The good news is that there are various ways you can lower your insurance rates in Washington, D.C.

  • Multiple car discount

    Consider putting all your vehicles on one policy.
  • Safe neighborhood discount

    Living in a safe neighborhood in D.C. can save you money.
  • Bundling discount

    Consider insuring your car and home with the same company.
  • Married discount

    TIf you’ve recently gotten married, inform your insurance agent.
  • Safe driver discount

    Having a good driving record will get you discounts.
  • Defensive driver discount

    Consider taking a defensive driver course.
  • Senior discount

    Some companies give a discount to drivers over 55.
  • Military discount

    Inform your agent if you’re part of the military.
  • Safety features

    Many companies give discounts if the vehicle has safety devices.
  • Claim-free discount

    You may get a discount for not making any claims for a certain period of time.
  • Good student discount

    If you or your child are good students, you may get a discount.

There may also be discounts available that are not mentioned above. Always ask your agent what discounts are available to customers. Keep these discounts in mind when comparing quotes. While 5% here or 10% there may not seem like a lot, it can add up when you’re considering your annual insurance premiums.

Are There Different Requirements for Full-Time or Part-Time Residents?

There is really no difference in insurance requirements for full- or part-time residents. Washington, D.C. law states that when you move into the district, you must register your vehicle within 30 days. To be eligible for registration, you must show proof of the following.

  • A vehicle title

  • Washington, D.C. driver’s license

  • Washington, D.C. auto insurance

  • A vehicle inspection

If you’re purchasing a vehicle that has not yet reached its inspection expiration date, you can register it without getting a new inspection but will still need auto insurance. If for some reason you need to apply for a temporary registration, you can do so, but you still need to have auto insurance. The bottom line is that you must always have auto insurance in D.C. if your vehicle is registered.

Where Does Washington, D.C. Rank in Price Compared to the National Average?

The auto insurance rates in Washington, D.C. are substantially higher than in other areas of the nation. In fact, insurance carriers reported that the further drivers got from this district, the lower their premiums. Cities within 35 to 40 miles of the D.C. area had the highest rates. In a survey of the five cities closest to the D.C. area and the five farthest away, the five cities the farthest away had premiums about $200 less than the closer cities. The average cost of auto insurance in the D.C. area is $1,190.39 per year while the national average cost was $889.01 per year.

Top Three Counties (Wards) in Washington, D.C.

In most states, drivers can find fluctuations in the prices of car insurance from city to city. This is not the case in the Washington, D.C. area. The rates do not change much from one neighborhood to the next in the Capital Region. Here is an example of auto insurance rates in areas of the Washington, D.C. region. The rates are for a 45-year old, married woman with a good driving record.


Now that you know all the ins and outs of auto insurance in the Washington D.C. area, you can do some research and find an insurance company that offers the best policy for you and your family. Keep in mind that what’s best for your single neighbor may not be best for you and your family. Find an agent, discuss your options, and let the agent show you what the company has to offer. Although many insurance companies want you to call them or visit their office, some may give you quotes online.

Don’t make a decision based on one quote. Get quotes from several companies and compare both the coverage and the premiums to ensure you’re getting the best possible coverage for the best price. When it’s all said and done, you want to know that you’re walking away with good auto insurance coverage while still meeting your financial goals.


  • https://www.businessinsider.com/average-cost-car-insurance-in-every-state-ranked-2018-3
  • https://www.dmv.org/washington-dc/car-insurance.php
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