Virginia Car Insurance
Although the cost of living is a bit higher in Virginia than the national average, you’ll be happy to know that your car insurance costs fall below average. A good use for that extra money? Beef up your policy to include comprehensive and collision coverage. Virginia doesn’t require it, but these extra endorsements on a policy cover a broad range of mishaps.
Comprehensive protects you from car theft, natural disasters, and other non-accident-related damages. And unless you’re still driving around in your dad’s hand-me-down, 20-year-old junker, collision gives you the security of knowing you’ll be able to afford the repairs if you get caught in a T-bone.
Virginia Minimum Liability
The state of Virginia mandates that your insurance policy meet these minimum amounts:
- $25,000 bodily injury coverage per person
- $50,000 bodily injury coverage per accident
- $20,000 property damage coverage per accident
You are required to have the same amount uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage, to help pay for injuries or damage if you are in an accident with an uninsured or underinsured driver, or if you’re involved in a “hit and run” accident. Usually these coverages are written as: 25/50/20, and that’s how we’ll refer to them for the rest of this review.
Of course, you can (and probably should) consider higher levels of coverage than the minimum, since medical bills and other expenses after an accident can add up frighteningly quickly, but if your finances are tight, these are as low as you can go and still be considered legally insured.
Choosing the best policy is about more than just the amount of your premium. We like to think of it as the three C’s: cost, coverage, and claims.
If you’ve got a fantastic policy with a really affordable premium, but you get hassled when you go to make a claim, that’s not a great policy. Likewise, if a company has awesome customer service, but charges you three times as much as the next company — it might not be worth it.
A great policy will balance out all three of those C’s, offering you a solid policy with adequate coverage at a reasonable price and with the reputation for paying claims promptly. How do you find that magical policy? We’d suggest you begin by reading our reviews of the best car insurance companies in Virginia, and then take your new knowledge for a test drive with our quote tool, below.
How We Found the Best Auto Insurance in Virginia
To find the best auto insurance in Virginia, we followed the methodology we used in our nationwide review of the best auto insurance: We looked at what consumer agencies like J.D. Power and Consumer Reports had to say about the companies, as well as financial analysis groups A.M. Best, S&P Global, and Moody’s, who gave each of our companies a rating based on their financial stability.
Then we explored each company’s website. We gave credit for easy-to-use quote tools and for the quality of educational information on the site. Insurance is a complicated industry, and a good company will arm their customers with the knowledge to make educated decisions about their needs.
We went ahead and got an online quote for a fairly popular car: a 2015 Honda CR-V. It goes without saying that your quote, even if you happen to own a 2015 Honda CR-V, will be different based on your profile and that of any other drivers in your household, as well as the breadth of the coverage you choose. With each company, we paid attention to the number and variety of discounts available, and the level of customization you had with your policy.
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We also talked to industry experts and took a deep dive into industry publications to find out what others were saying about our companies. Through it all, we noted the reputation of the company for those three “C” words: cost, coverage, and claims. Here’s how the top five companies (by market share) in Virginia ranked:
Virginia Auto Insurance Reviews
Geico is the 800-pound gorilla of the insurance world: It insures more car owners in Virginia than any other company. Getting a quote online took us all of seven minutes, and the questions asked all the right things so that the tool was able to identify $113 in discounts for us.
Pay special attention to Geico’s list of more than 500 organizations that merit discounts. It covers, among other things, many military, educational, and professional associations. It even gives you a discount if you subscribe to National Geographic or Smithsonian magazines. In the end, Geico gave us the cheapest quote, $166 for six months, out of our five finalists
Unlike many companies, there’s no central informational blog on the Geico site, but there are numerous FAQ sections, along with features like a cheap gas finder and a wealth of educational information on purchasing and insuring a car.
Geico scores well with consumer agencies, too. J.D. Power gives it a three out of five rating for the overall customer experience, and a four out of five for the claims experience. Consumer Report’s Readers Score is 89, which puts it in a tie for second place among our five, behind USAA. Its CR simplicity of process score was “very good” and timely payment score was “excellent,” so you should have no problems when you make a claim. Its financial ratings were also excellent, as one would expect from a company owned by mega-corporation Berkshire Hathaway.
State Farm gets credit for having an excellent website, with a blog, called Simple Insights, that has lots of informative articles on vehicle care and safety, as well as fun features like a car loan calculator. Even if you don’t end up insuring with the company, we suggest you check it out if you’re new to the world of insurance. There’s a lot you can learn from the educational resources on the site.
Getting a quote was fairly simple. After answering all the usual questions about the car and driver(s), the quote tool gives you three coverage options, with six month premiums for our Honda starting at $177 for six months of bare-bones coverage with no collision or comprehensive, making them the second cheapest of our contenders.
One money-saving feature that you can enroll in with State Farm is called Drive Safe and Save. You download an app onto your smartphone, and State Farm sends you a small Bluetooth beacon that you keep in your car which can read your speed and other factors that influence safe driving. You’ll save about five percent just for signing up; and more if the device indicates that you’re a safe driver.
State Farm offers roughly the same number of discounts as Geico, but only about half as many supplemental coverage endorsements, leaving you with less opportunity to customize your coverage. Its rankings with Consumer Reports and J.D. Power were also in the same range as Geico, with one exception: J.D. Power’s overall score for State Farms was a rather low two out of five. Financially, the company is rock-solid: Moody’s, A.M. Best, and S&P Global all rate it in the high “A” level.
Getting a quote from Allstate is a piece of cake. Its quote tool clearly outlines the discounts we earned and others we could tap into, like its Easy Pay Plan and a discount when you complete a defensive driving class. Our quote was $302 for six months, with six discounts saving us $276. Despite the discounts, this was the highest quote we got of all our five finalists.
We liked Allstate’s website a lot. When we got our quote, we were prompted to check out a “coverage in action” pop-up that featured a laundry list of mishaps: you hit a car, you hit a light pole, a hail storm damages your car, and so on. Click on one of them and you can see how much you would pay and how much Allstate would pay to both fix the car and get you in a rental based on the policy you just quoted. There are also pop-up tips for “common coverage levels” and “tailored coverage suggestions.” There are many blog articles and other tools, too, to help you learn more about car care, maintenance, and insurance matters.
Allstate scores well with consumer and financial organizations. Moody’s, A.M. Best, and S&P Global all give it ratings in the “A” range, indicating that it’s financially well-managed and able to pay out claims with no difficulty. Consumer Report’s Reader’s Score is 88, which ties it with Nationwide, just one point behind Geico and State Farm. It has an “excellent” rating from CR in the “timely payment” category, and J.D. Power gives it a three out of five in both claims and overall.
USAA seems to have it all. Its financial ratings are through the roof. Customer service reviews are top-notch. Consumer Reports’ readers gives it an unheard-of Readers’ Score of 95 and “excellent” in both simplicity of claims process and timely payment.
So why isn’t it at the top of our list? Because of one significant restriction: The company only serves the needs of those in the armed services and their families. We weren’t even able to get a quote because we lacked military credentials.
But there are 27 military bases in Virginia, and roughly 115,000 active duty and reserve members of the military in the state, not to mention their families and those who have retired from the armed forces, and for them, USAA is a great option.
As you might imagine, its coverage is tailored for those in military service. You can earn a discount of up to 60 percent, for example, if you are deployed and place your car in storage. If you keep your car on base, you can save up to 15 percent. The company also lets you make payments based on your military pay schedule.
In addition, it has the usual discounts for safe driving, multi-car and/or multi-policy (if you already use USAA for your homeowner or life insurance policies, for example). Its “advice” section features articles on buying and selling your car, and on maintaining and protecting it once you buy it. Although not as extensive as the resources on State Farm’s website, you’ll find lots of useful content on USAA’s site.
Nationwide has a Virginia-specific web page that features discounts and endorsements just for residents of the state as well as a list of agents in Virginia. As with all our contenders, getting a quote is fairly simple, requiring about ten minutes to answer questions about the car and driver. We counted 11 possible discounts, including one for drivers older than 55, and one for those who are members of any of more than 400 groups, including alumni, professional, and sports associations.
The quote we got for our Honda CR-V was $228 per six months, a bit steeper than some of our other options, but not ridiculously so. Nationwide offers a sizeable discount — up to 25 percent — for its SmartRide program, which is similar to State Farm’s Drive Safe and Save initiative. The company tracks your driving habits for a period of time and then assigns you a discount based on how safely you drive. Although it might feel a little invasive, you can’t beat those savings.
It got good, but not great, reviews from consumer watchdog organizations like J.D. Power and Consumer Report. Its CR Readers Score of 88 placed it in a tie for last place among our contenders alongside Allstate, and J.D. Power only gave it two out of five for an overall score, but even those rankings indicated that it did its job well — just not as well as the others in our list.
Auto Insurance Tips for Virginia Drivers
It’s possible to drive uninsured in Virginia, but we don’t recommend it.
There is one loophole in Virginia law that allows a car owner to keep an uninsured vehicle on the road. Paying the DMV a $500 Uninsured Motor Vehicle Fee when you register your car gives you the right to drive it without having insurance. The fee is valid for 12 months, so you’d need to pay it again after a year.
Keep in mind, however, that you would still be liable for the sometimes considerable costs of a car accident if you are at fault or the other motorist was uninsured — without the comfort of knowing that your insurance company is picking up the bulk of the tab. So although it exists, we can’t think of any reason why you would want to take advantage of this dubious opportunity.
Comprehensive coverage can protect you against car theft.
Although Virginia is not at the top of the National Insurance Crime Bureau’s “Top Places for Vehicle Thefts” report (California leads that list), at least a few of the 750,000 vehicles that are stolen each year are probably in your neighborhood.
There are a number of things you can do to help ensure that your vehicle is safe from theft, but first, consider adding comprehensive insurance to your policy. This is an optional endorsement that protects you from a variety of non-accident-related experiences, like a tree falling on your car in a storm, or damage as the result of theft.
It’s not a state requirement that you have it, but we recommend that you consider it, especially if you have one of the most commonly stolen cars in Virginia. Here are the top five that were most appealing to thieves in 2016:
- 2002 Honda Accord
- 2016 Toyota Camry
- 2004 Ford Pickup (Full Size)
- 1998 Honda Civic
- 2015 Nissan Altima
If you’re been turned down before, look into VAIP.
If you’ve got a few dings on your driving record, your insurer may refuse to renew your policy, turning you down as a high-risk driver. If that happens, your first move should be to talk to agents at other companies — what stands out for one company might not raise a red flag for another. But if you’re not having any luck, take a look at the Virginia Automobile Insurance Plan (VAIP), a state-mandated entity that supplies insurance for high-risk drivers who can’t get a policy through the voluntary market. You’ll pay significantly more for a VAIP policy, but it’ll get you back on the road and driving legally.
The Bottom Line
When shopping around for the best auto insurance in Virginia, keep in mind the three C’s (cost, coverage, and claims), and look for a policy that balances those three elements.
You’re looking for a company that offers you the ability to customize your policy to meet your own particular needs at a reasonable price, with a reputation for making the claims process as smooth as possible and good customer service in general. Our five picks are a great place to start your search.