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DC Car Insurance Laws

The nation’s capital is a territory in itself, with its own laws that operate similar to other states. As a result, those who live in the District of Columbia, otherwise known as Washington D.C., have to obey the traffic laws of the District when driving in the territory.

Similar to other states in the Union, Washington D.C. also has minimum car insurance coverage requirements to make sure that if a driver hurts someone or their property there’s an ability to recover. The laws only apply to those driving a vehicle on public roads within Washington D.C. To stay above the legal limit or get a higher amount of protection, enter your ZIP code into our FREE car insurance comparison tool.

That said, there’s not many off-road locations in the District so the rule pretty much applies everywhere in D.C. Some information on the District can be found through insurance comparison websites by searching via a zip code, but more detail is provide below. Entering your ZIP code into our FREE auto insurance comparison tool can get you off to a great start.


Washington D.C. insurance laws are compiled within the Compulsory/No-Fault Motor Vehicle Insurance Act. This body of law places a requirement on all drivers who are registered as driver-residents within the District as well as those driving through in transit. No one is allowed to register a car in Washington D.C. without already having an insurance policy approved on the given vehicle first. Contact a car insurer to get a reliable auto insurance policy now.

Each individual driver must have a policy that at least meets the minimum of the District’s coverage requirements broken down into four categories.

  • Coverage for Property Damage Liability of at least $10,000
  • Third Party Liability coverage of at least $25,000 per individual and $50,000 per accident
  • Uninsured Motorist Bodily Injury coverage of at least $25,000 per individual and $50,000 per accident
  • Coverage of at least $5,000 with a $200 deductible for Uninsured Motorist property damage

When a car is to be registered or re-registered, the owner will need to provide proof of insurance coverage on the vehicle. A lack of coverage will delay the registration which means the car can’t be driven on public roads anymore when the old registration expires.

If the driver gets into an accident, he will also be required to produce proof of insurance both to the other car drivers involved as well as to any law enforcement officer that appears to review the accident scene. Even if no one shows up, drivers are expected to report any accident to their insurance company as well as to the Metropolitan Police Department.

Documented Policy Proof

If a driver is stopped while driving in Washington D.C., he will likely be required to hand over proof of insurance for a traffic or law enforcement officer to review. This requirement is in addition to have proof of valid registration and a valid driver’s license. If a driver refuses, he could be subject to a $30 civil fine.

Proof of insurance in Washington D.C. is met by any official document provided by a car insurance provider to a driver policyholder reflecting the existing policy in place. The document will always include the name of the covered driver, the covered car identified by its vehicle identification number, and the auto insurance company name and contact information.

Penalties for Lack of Coverage

The first type of penalty involves a lapse of coverage. This can happen when a driver cancels one policy but doesn’t contract for a new one right away. It can also occur when a driver fails to pay his current policy on a timely basis. Where there is a lapse longer than 30 days, a driver can be subject to a $150 fine if caught without insurance.

If the vehicle is not going to be operated, then the District requires drivers to surrender their current vehicle tags and registration until coverage is back in place again.

Trying to hide a coverage cancellation won’t work. Car insurance companies that operate in Washington D.C. are required to notify the District’s DMV office when a policyholder cancels a policy.

The DMV then follows up with a notice to the registered policyholder giving him a chance to show he has obtained coverage elsewhere in the meantime.

If the lapse continues longer, the driver will realize a compounding of the fines assessed. The amount increases by $7 for every day over 30 days that there is no coverage in place. This charge will continue to grow until it reaches $2,500 total.

If caught driving without insurance when pulled over or involved in an accident the driver will immediately receive a citation from a law enforcement officer. There is no difference of treatment between a Washington D.C. resident and someone traveling through the District. A driver also risks having his driver’s license suspended. If this occurs, no driving in the District is allowed. If a driver further violates the District’s laws he could be subject to a year in jail and fine up to $5,000.

Driving around or in the District of Columbia blindly is a bad idea. Instead, a driver can simply search on an insurance comparison website via ZIP code to determine what Washington D.C. insurance requirements are. Enter your ZIP code into our FREE car insurance comparison tool now! This allows a driver to be warned ahead of time before driving through the nation’s capital.

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