Washington D.C. Car Insurance Laws

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Ross Martin

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Ross joined The Zebra as a writer and researcher in 2019. He specializes in writing insurance content to help shoppers make informed decisions.

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Auto insurance requirements in Washington D.C.

In order to get behind the wheel legally in Washington D.C., all drivers must carry car insurance in the limits prescribed by the state government. Furthermore, proof of insurance must also be carried and shown to law enforcement officials at their request. Find out more about Washington D.C.’s required and optional car insurance coverage types below.

Minimum Liability Coverage: 25/50/10
$25,000 for bodily injury per person
$50,000 for bodily injury per accident
$10,000 for property damage per accident
Uninsured Motorist Coverage: 25/50/5
$25,000 bodily injury per person
$50,000 bodily injury per accident
$5,000 property damage per accident

The coverage limits above are those mandated by the territory. However, your lender or leasing company may require further coverage to protect your vehicle against physical damage, sometimes known as full coverage.

Liability insurance coverage requirements in Washington D.C.

Liability coverage is legally required in Washington D.C. This coverage pays for bodily injuries and property damage of those that you harm in an at-fault accident. It also pays for the injured party’s lost wages and pain and suffering. Keep in mind that your liability coverage never pays for your injuries or damages to your own property.

property damage

Uninsured/Underinsured Motorist Coverage in Washington D.C.

Uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage is legally required in Washington D.C. This coverage pays for injury and lost wages that you or your passengers suffer in the event that you are in an accident with an uninsured driver who is at fault.

What are state-mandated car insurance limits?

In car insurance, a limit is a total amount that an insurance company will pay in the event of a claim. Liability coverage limits are determined by individual states and are split into three categories: bodily injury per personbodily injury per accident, and property damage. In the nation's capital, the minimum is listed as 25/50/10 and explained below:

  • $25,000 in bodily injury coverage per person is the maximum dollar amount that will be paid for a single person that you injure in an auto accident.
  • $50,000 in bodily injury coverage per accident is the maximum dollar amount that will be paid for all injuries that you cause in an accident in which more than one person is hurt.
  • $10,000 in property damage per accident is the total dollar amount that will be paid for damage that you cause in an accident.

Uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage is set up similarly to your liability coverage, though it applies in different circumstances. These limits break down as follows:

  • $25,000 in bodily injury coverage per person is the maximum dollar amount that will be paid for a single person injured in your vehicle by an uninsured driver.
  • $50,000 in bodily injury coverage per accident is the total dollar amount an insurer will pay for injuries sustained in your vehicle by an uninsured driver.
  • $5,000 in property damage coverage per accident is the maximum dollar amount that will be paid for all damage caused to your vehicle by an uninsured driver.[1]


Do D.C.’s required minimums provide adequate coverage?

Washington D.C.’s car insurance requirements are fairly close to those of other states. However, carrying the bare minimum coverage is not likely to be enough to fully protect you and your assets. For example, your liability limits can be quickly exhausted if the other driver sustains even moderate injuries. The same is true if you were to injure multiple people. The $10,000 property damage limit leaves you exposed to serious risk, as it is nowhere close to the average cost of a new vehicle. Therefore if you wanted to ensure that you were properly covered, increasing these limits is a great idea.

Furthermore, Washington D.C. requires no coverage for your own vehicle. If you wanted your own car to be protected, you would need to add extra coverage options.

Washington D.C’s penalties for driving without proof of insurance

If you are found guilty of driving with no insurance in Washington D.C., you can expect the following penalties to apply:

  • Suspension of registration
  • Suspension of license 
  • Fine of $150 for first 30 days, and $7 for each additional uninsured day, up to $2,500
  • Fine of $30 if you cannot produce proof of insurance if pulled over by a police officer
  • A license reinstatement fee of $98

Optional car insurance coverage in Washington D.C.

District of Columbia law requires liability and uninsured/underinsured motorist coverages, but most insurance carriers offer a number of other helpful coverage options. Here is a list of some of the more common options available:

  • Comprehensive: This coverage pays for damages to your vehicle that occur in non-collision incidents. It covers perils such as theft and damage related to weather events.
  • Collision: This coverage pays for damages resulting from a collision with another vehicle or stationary object. 
  • Loan/Lease Payoff: Often referred to as gap coverage, this coverage pays the difference between what you owe on a loan and your car’s actual cash value. This is especially helpful if you owe more than your car is actually worth. 
  • Medical Payments: This coverage goes towards the medical expenses of you and anyone else in your vehicle and is applied regardless of fault. 
  • Rental Car Reimbursement: If your car is rendered undrivable, this coverage can help pay for a rental car until yours can be fixed. 
  • Roadside Assistance: Roadside assistance can help with things such as flat tires, dead batteries, and towing expenses. 

Why adhering to Washington D.C.’s car insurance requirements is important

Carrying car insurance in Washington D.C. is not only a legal requirement, but it’s also a smart way to protect yourself and your assets. Adding more coverage or increasing your current limits is always recommended. If the price of extra insurance coverage has you worried, it might be time to shop for a new policy.

The Zebra offers the chance to compare car insurance quotes side-by-side from the nation’s top carriers. Simply enter your ZIP below to get started. 

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About The Zebra

The Zebra is not an insurance company. We publish data-backed, expert-reviewed resources to help consumers make more informed insurance decisions.

  • The Zebra’s insurance content is written and reviewed for accuracy by licensed insurance agents.
  • The Zebra’s insurance editorial content is not subject to review or alteration by insurance companies or partners.
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