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West Virginia Car Owners Obligations

February 12, 2021 | Laws

Vehicle owners in West Virginia have an obligation to others on the roadway. Technically, vehicle owners and drivers have many obligations, first and foremost of which is operating their vehicle safely. However, accidents do occur, and another important obligation is having vehicle insurance. Just like every other state in the country, drivers in West Virginia must have a certain amount of insurance in order to remain legal on the roadway. Here, our Martinsburg accident lawyers want to discuss obligations when it comes to vehicle insurance in West Virginia. 

West Virginia Car Accident Requirements

Every state sets minimum insurance requirements for drivers. In West Virginia, every driver must carry the following types and minimums in order to remain legal on the roadways:

  • Bodily injury liability: $25,000 per person and $50,000 per accident
  • Property damage liability: $25,000 per accident
  • Uninsured motorist bodily injury: $25,000 per person and $50,000 per accident
  • Uninsured motorist property damage: $25,000 per accident

You will see that uninsured motorist coverage is required in West Virginia, which is something that many other states do not require. This is important, because a significant percentage of drivers in West Virginia and throughout the country are uninsured. If a driver in West Virginia is struck by an uninsured driver, and if they have the required insurance for this state, they will receive coverage for bodily injuries and property damage. 

However, underinsured motorist coverage is not required in West Virginia. Underinsured motorist coverage can help injury victims recover additional compensation if the at-fault driver’s insurance limits are exhausted. 

Penalties for Operating Without Car Insurance in West Virginia 

When we turn to West Virginia Code section 17D-2A-7, we can see that vehicle owners who fail to comply with the state’s insurance requirements may face the following penalties:

  • First offense. If law enforcement cites someone for driving without insurance, then that person’s driver’s license will be suspended for 30 days minimum and until the driver provides proof of insurance. The driver will also be required to pay reinstatement fees for their license. However, if the driver obtains insurance before the license suspension takes effect, and if they pay a $200 penalty, then the license and registration suspensions may be avoided. 
  • Second and subsequent offenses. If a driver is cited for operating without insurance for a second or subsequent offense within five years, their license will be suspended for 90 days, and their vehicle registration will be revoked until they provide proof of insurance. A driver will have to pay reinstatement fees for their license and registration before they are able to renew them. 

Aside from these statutory penalties for driving without insurance in West Virginia, there are certainly other penalties as well. Namely, the financial costs of operating a vehicle without insurance can be tremendous. If a driver without insurance causes an accident, they will personally be on the line for covering the injury and property damage expenses of any other party involved. 

Will Insurance Cover Another Person Driving the Vehicle?

In most situations, the vehicle owner’s insurance will apply to any other person driving the vehicle. However, there are various caveats to this, and particularly insurance carriers may have requirements that owners need to be aware of. 

We recommend that vehicle owners contact their insurance carrier or look at their policy to make sure that they can let other people drive their vehicle. In general, those who live in the vehicle owner’s household will be covered. Letting a friend borrow your vehicle is also generally acceptable. However, vehicle owners should not let just anybody drive their vehicle. They need to ensure that they only let trustworthy drivers who have a good driving record operate a vehicle they own.