The Ultimate Washington DC Car Insurance Guide (Costs + Coverage)

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Chris Tepedino is a feature writer that has written extensively about auto insurance for numerous websites. He has a college degree in communication from the University of Tennessee and has experience reporting, researching investigative pieces, and crafting detailed, data-driven features. His works have been featured on CB Blog Nation, Flow Words, Healing Law, WIBW Kansas, and ...

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Rachael Brennan has been working in the insurance industry since 2006 when she began working as a licensed insurance representative for 21st Century Insurance, during which time she earned her Property and Casualty license in all 50 states. After several years she expanded her insurance expertise, earning her license in Health and AD&D insurance as well. She has worked for small health in...

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Reviewed by Rachael Brennan
Licensed Insurance Agent

UPDATED: Nov 17, 2020

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It’s all about you. We want to help you make the right coverage choices.

Advertiser Disclosure: We strive to help you make confident insurance decisions. Comparison shopping should be easy. We partner with top insurance providers. This doesn’t influence our content. Our opinions are our own.

Editorial Guidelines: We are a free online resource for anyone interested in learning more about auto insurance. Our goal is to be an objective, third-party resource for everything auto insurance related. We update our site regularly, and all content is reviewed by auto insurance experts.

Washington DC Statistics SummaryDetails
Roadway MilesMiles in State: 1,507
Vehicle Miles: 3,557 million
VehiclesRegistered: 318,515
Thefts: 3,264
Most Popular VehicleHonda Civic
Uninsured% / Underinsured% 15.6%
Total Driving Related DeathsSpeeding Fatalities: 17
DUI Fatalities: 16
Full Coverage Average Annual PremiumsLiability: $628
Collision: $468
Comprehensive: $233
Cheapest ProviderUSAA
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District of Columbia might not be big, area-wise, yet driving in the nation’s capital is challenging for everyone owing to the high density of population and the number of tourists it attracts from all over the world.

Naturally, that makes it riskier to drive here without the right auto insurance coverage. But, how would you know what is the right amount of coverage for you?

If you’re thinking about buying a policy with coverage limits recommended by either your neighbor or colleague, you may not get the best policy as per your needs or miss out on some discounts.

That’s why we are writing this in-depth car insurance guide to help you make the right decision and be well-versed with everything related to auto insurance in the District of Columbia.

You can even start comparison shopping now using our FREE online tool. Enter your zip code above to get started.

Table of Contents

Washington D.C. Car Insurance Coverage and Rates

How many times do you check the minimum coverage limits in your state before buying auto insurance? Most people rely on their insurance agent to explain these details.

While there’s nothing wrong with that, you should have an idea about what’s required in your state beforehand so that you can make a more informed buying decision.

Let’s look at the minimum coverage requirements in Washington D.C. and understand what these coverage options mean.

Car Culture in Washington D.C.

To most people in D.C., driving tends to be quite stressful during peak office hours – and, add to that the confusing traffic circles & one-way roads.

Between figuring out which route to take and where to turn left, drivers cause a lot of chaos making it difficult to drive for everyone.

The flock of tourists and the transient residential situation in D.C. makes it all the more difficult for motorists, especially the new ones. Because of these reasons people prefer to walk or take public transportation in D.C.

– Minimum Auto Insurance Coverage in Washington D.C.

The Compulsory/No-Fault Motor Vehicle Insurance Act of DC requires all motorists with a registered vehicle or a reciprocity sticker to buy auto insurance.

Required CoveragePolicy Limits
Bodily Injury Liability$25,000 per person/$50,000 per accident
Property Damage Liability$10,000 per accident
Uninsured Motorist Bodily Injury $25,000 per person/$50,000 per accident
Uninsured Motorist Property Damage $5,000 per accident with a $200 deductible
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At the minimum, you must maintain the coverage limits mentioned in the table above to legally drive in the district.

What do these coverage options mean?

Bodily Injury Liability: If you’re the reason behind an accident, your insurance policy would cover the medical expenses of the driver and passengers in the other car.

In D.C., you’re required to carry at least $25,000 per person and $50,000 per accident wherein the policy would cover damages up to these policy limits in the event of an accident.

Property Damage Liability: Property damage covers the expenses for the repair or replacement of the third-party’ car damaged in an accident. Laws in D.C. require motorists to carry a minimum of $10,000 per accident for property damage.

Uninsured Motorists Bodily Injury and Property Damage: If you’re hit by a motorist who doesn’t have the adequate insurance coverage, then your uninsured motorist protection would kick-in to pay-off the medical expenses for your personal injuries and property damage expenses.

The personal injury limits are the same as liability limits at $25,000 per person with an upper limit of $50,000 per accident. D.C. also requires motorists to carry coverage for uninsured motorists property damage as well with a limit of $5,000 per accident.

How is fault determined in an accident and how does your insurance policy work in D.C.?

D.C. is a no-fault district which means that each party files a claim with their own insurance company irrespective of who was at fault. Unlike states that follow the at-fault system, insurance companies in D.C. don’t determine fault after an accident.

Since the insurance coverage is comprehensive, motorists are prohibited from filing a lawsuit against the other party except under the following circumstances:

  1. The injuries have led to permanent disfigurement or scarring
  2. There’s a substantial impairment that would restrict the daily activities of the injured party
  3. The medical expenses are higher than the victim’s Personal Injury Protection limits

Because of the many risks involved with driving, motorists must buy auto insurance. If you cancel your insurance at any point of time, do remember to surrender your license plates at the DMV.

D.C. also accepts electronic proof of insurance now, so if you have a cell phone or a portable electronic device, you can show the image of your insurance card, whenever you’re asked.

Forms of Financial Responsibility

When you register your vehicle at the D.C. DMV, you will be asked to show the proof of financial responsibility which can be met by buying an auto insurance policy with the district-mandated limits.

However, motorists who have more than 25 vehicles, can also choose self-insurance. If you satisfy the terms of payment, you can get a certificate of self-insurance that would allow you to drive.

– Premiums as a Percentage of Income in Washington D.C.

Cost of insurance is something that bothers us the most because we can’t see any immediate benefits out of the monthly expense towards premiums.

But, how much is your premium for auto insurance compared to your income? Keeping tabs on the premium to income ratio would help you in managing your budget better.

Premiums as percentage of income in D.C. (Trend)

Over the three-year period from 2012-2014, the percentage of premium to income has seen a drop as per data from the National Association of Insurance Commissioners. In 2014, residents of the district spent 2.21 percent of their income on premiums.

We make it easy for you to calculate your premium percentage to income with our in-house calculator.

If you look at the adjacent states of Maryland and Virginia, the residents spent 2.34 percent and 1.90 percent, respectively, of their income on auto insurance premiums in 2014.


– Core Auto Insurance Premiums in Washington D.C.

Every person wants to know the average rates for auto premiums in their area before buying a policy. Being aware of insurance rates helps you to shop around well.

Coverage TypeAnnual Premiums
Full Coverage$1,330.73
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The table above illustrates the average auto premiums for different coverage types in D.C. Premiums for liability coverage are the highest, followed by collision and comprehensive insurance.

Let’s take a look at what these mean.

When your vehicle collides with any object, stationary or moving, collision coverage pays for the repair cost. It’s recommended to always add collision to your policy since your car damage is protected from any type of accident.

Comprehensive, on the other hand, protects your car from any damages that happen due to causes out of your control such as – fire, theft, storms, hurricanes, etc.

Additional Liability Coverage in Washington D.C.

Loss Ratio201520142013
Personal Injury Protection63.98%53.86%84.37%
Medical Payments27.40%54.31%85.86%
Uninsured/Underinsured Motorist78.76%82.17%71.24%
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What other coverage options should you consider while shopping around for auto insurance?

If you’re getting overwhelmed by the information about different coverage options, do not get disheartened. We are here to make it easy for you.

As per the laws of your district, you must carry the basic liability and uninsured/underinsured coverage. In real life though, you might end up in a situation where medical bills from an accident exceed those base coverage limits.

That’s why we are providing information about each and every option that you can add to your policy.

Personal Injury Protection and Medical Pay are optional coverages that can cover your personal injury expenses in the event of an accident.

Since D.C. is a no-fault district, you’re responsible for your own damages in an accident and having a PIP or Medical Pay would help.

What’s the difference between PIP and Medical Pay?

Of course, you must be wondering if both these options cover medical injury expenses, how are these different.

PIP includes more benefits than Medical Pay and it covers lost wages as well while Medical Pay only covers your medical expenses.

One salient feature of Medical Pay is that it follows the policyholder – whether you’re walking, sitting in the passenger seat of a car, or driving, your Medical Pay would always cover you.

What you choose between the two is a matter of what suits you more. Always do a cost-benefit analysis before going for one of these options.

You can also watch this video that succinctly explains different types of insurance.

Since Uninsured/Underinsured Motorist coverage is mandatory in D.C., you wouldn’t have to worry about being hit by a motorist who isn’t carrying adequate coverage.

We have also included the loss ratio for different types of insurance in D.C. so that you know how much companies are paying out in each category.

Loss ratio is the amount of claims settled by insurers compared to the earned premiums. If an insurer has a loss ratio higher than 100 percent, it signifies a distress situation.

Add-ons, Endorsements, and Riders in Washington D.C.

Yes, there are a lot more options than you can think of to protect you from unforeseen situations on the road.

Do take a look at each one and decide for yourself.

Also, do you feel that it’s unfair when you have to pay the same premiums as someone who’s clearly a rash driver?

Because of advancements in technology, motorists can now choose the usage-based insurance or pay-as-you-go option for their auto insurance policy payments.

Thankfully, the insurance industry has understood the need to reward motorists who are safer on the roads than others.

If you enroll in the usage-based insurance program of your insurer, your driving pattern would be recorded for a pre-decided time period after which you would receive discounts for good behavior.

– Male vs Female Car Insurance Rates in Washington D.C.

Since gender is one of the factors that is used in the calculation of premium rates, we want to present the differences in rates for males v females.

Insurance ProviderSingle 17-year old femaleSingle 17-year old maleSingle 25-year old femaleSingle 25-year old maleMarried 35-year old femaleMarried 35-year old maleMarried 60-year old femaleMarried 60-year old male
Allstate P&C$12,590.85$15,874.46$4,059.66$4,403.29$3,732.35$3,880.10$3,440.27$3,770.41
Geico General$6,282.32$7,523.64$2,606.50$2,076.67$2,782.63$2,626.29$2,949.59$2,694.87
Progressive Direct$10,819.70$12,660.17$3,064.98$3,231.19$2,626.08$2,537.25$2,386.96$2,435.74
State Farm Mutual Auto$7,573.00$10,041.93$2,714.97$2,989.94$2,445.38$2,445.38$2,190.89$2,190.89
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You can notice that the rates differ under each age category in the table, however, the difference is quite stark in the 17-year-old category.

Women are considered safer drivers and are less likely to file claims, therefore are charged a lot lower than young males. As per a study, a 20-year-old male pays almost 21 percent higher premiums than his female counterparts.

Don’t worry though as the rates tend to level-off when motorists reach a certain age (mostly 25) and auto insurers begin to assign more weight to other factors than gender.

Let’s also look at the ranking of auto insurers in D.C. by demographics.

Insurance ProviderDemographicAverage Annual RateRank
Allstate P&CSingle 17-year old male$15,874.461
Progressive DirectSingle 17-year old male$12,660.172
Allstate P&CSingle 17-year old female$12,590.853
Progressive DirectSingle 17-year old female$10,819.704
State Farm Mutual AutoSingle 17-year old male$10,041.935
NICOASingle 17-year old male$9,857.186
NICOASingle 17-year old female$7,768.947
State Farm Mutual AutoSingle 17-year old female$7,573.008
Geico GeneralSingle 17-year old male$7,523.649
Geico GeneralSingle 17-year old female$6,282.3210
USAA CICSingle 17-year old male$6,001.6111
USAA CICSingle 17-year old female$5,047.1012
Allstate P&CSingle 25-year old male$4,403.2913
NICOASingle 25-year old male$4,139.9314
Allstate P&CSingle 25-year old female$4,059.6615
Allstate P&CMarried 35-year old male$3,880.1016
NICOASingle 25-year old female$3,851.1417
Allstate P&CMarried 60-year old male$3,770.4118
Allstate P&CMarried 35-year old female$3,732.3519
NICOAMarried 35-year old male$3,453.3620
Allstate P&CMarried 60-year old female$3,440.2721
NICOAMarried 35-year old female$3,437.9122
Progressive DirectSingle 25-year old male$3,231.1923
NICOAMarried 60-year old male$3,180.8724
NICOAMarried 60-year old female$3,102.5525
Progressive DirectSingle 25-year old female$3,064.9826
State Farm Mutual AutoSingle 25-year old male$2,989.9427
Geico GeneralMarried 60-year old female$2,949.5928
Geico GeneralMarried 35-year old female$2,782.6329
State Farm Mutual AutoSingle 25-year old female$2,714.9730
Geico GeneralMarried 60-year old male$2,694.8731
Geico GeneralMarried 35-year old male$2,626.2932
Progressive DirectMarried 35-year old female$2,626.0833
Geico GeneralSingle 25-year old female$2,606.5034
Progressive DirectMarried 35-year old male$2,537.2535
State Farm Mutual AutoMarried 35-year old female$2,445.3836
State Farm Mutual AutoMarried 35-year old male$2,445.3836
Progressive DirectMarried 60-year old male$2,435.7438
Progressive DirectMarried 60-year old female$2,386.9639
State Farm Mutual AutoMarried 60-year old female$2,190.8940
State Farm Mutual AutoMarried 60-year old male$2,190.8940
USAA CICSingle 25-year old male$2,086.1042
Geico GeneralSingle 25-year old male$2,076.6743
USAA CICSingle 25-year old female$1,891.8844
USAA CICMarried 35-year old male$1,434.9845
USAA CICMarried 35-year old female$1,419.4846
USAA CICMarried 60-year old male$1,394.4347
USAA CICMarried 60-year old female$1,367.9248
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Cheapest Auto Insurance Rates by Zip Code in Washington D.C.

ZipcodeAverage Annual PremiumsAllstate P&CGeico GeneralNICOAProgressive DirectState Farm Mutual AutoUSAA CIC
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Another factor that plays a role in determining your premium cost is your – zip code.

Not every zip code has the same crime rate or density of population which are the reasons behind a rate differential by zip code.

Interestingly all zip codes in Washington D.C. are charged the same rate by insurance providers and the average rate is $4,440 annually.

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Best Car Insurance Companies in Washington D.C.

We have all heard the big names in the auto insurance industry – the ones who can be found on every billboard advertisement and have a stable market presence. These are the companies that usually offer you auto insurance coverage at a standard rate.

Can you blindly buy auto insurance from one of these big names?

On the other hand, there are auto insurers, not as well-known, who would offer you a heavily discounted policy.

Should you base your decision solely on the cost of auto insurance?

The answer to those questions depends on your requirement and risk profile – what is good for your neighbor might not be suitable for you.

Irrespective of which insurer you choose, you should always perform due diligence of the provider by analyzing its financial ratings, customer reviews, and complaint data.

We will look at these facets of the comparison matrix in detail now.

Financial Ratings of the Leading Car Insurers in Washington D.C.

Insurance ProviderAM Best Financial Ratings
State Farm GroupA++
USAA GroupA++
Progressive GroupA+
Allstate Insurance GroupA+
Travelers GroupA++
Liberty Mutual GroupA
Nationwide Corp GroupA+
Erie Insurance GroupA+
Hartford Fire & Casualty GroupA+
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Whether your insurance company has the ability to meet its long-term insurance obligations is something that should be considered before buying a policy.

Independent agencies in the market assess the financial strength of insurers to educate consumers about their long-term viability. As these agencies are experts in the field of credit rating, you can rely on their ratings to make a decision.

For your ease, we have shown the AM Best Rating of the leading insurers in D.C. because of the agency’s unique focus on the insurance sector.

What do these AM Best Ratings mean?

AM Best assigns ratings from A++ to D wherein A++ signifies the best and D is the worst. Insurance companies with a rating in the range of B+ to A++ have a good to superior ability in meeting their insurance obligations.

This means that you can rely on these insurers to fulfill your claim requests in the distant future.

Insurance Companies with Best Customer Reviews in Washington D.C.

Financial ratings aside, how would you know whether your auto insurer actually responds promptly if you’re involved in an accident?

Also, wouldn’t you want to know how fast an auto insurer settles claims?

Customer reviews, unlike reports from industry bodies, would offer you the real picture of an auto insurer. Customers are usually quite vocal about companies they aren’t happy with.

To find out the overall sentiment of consumers for auto insurers in your district, you can check the results of J.D. Power 2018 U.S. Auto Insurance Study.

JD Power study Mid Atlantic region

Based on a 1,000 point scale, Erie Insurance, Geico, and The Hartford – in that order – earned the maximum scores from consumers in the mid-Atlantic region.

Though Erie Insurance isn’t the topmost insurer in terms of market share, it is the most popular as per the results of this survey.

For the purpose of this study, 44,622 auto insurance consumers were surveyed to assess their satisfaction across five factors:

  • Interaction
  • Policy offerings
  • Price
  • Billing process and policy information
  • Claims

Complaint Data of Leading Insurers in Washington D.C.

Leading Insurance Providers by Market ShareComplaint Data
State Farm Group1482
USAA Group296
Progressive Group120
Allstate Insurance Group163
Travelers Group2
Liberty Mutual Group222
Nationwide Corp Group25
Erie Insurance Group22
Hartford Fire & Casualty Group9
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More the number of complaints against an auto insurer, higher is the level of dissatisfaction amongst consumers.

Cheapest Auto Insurance Companies in Washington D.C.

Let’s find out which insurers offer the best rates in your district.

Insurance ProviderAverage Annual PremiumsCompared to State Average (+/-)Percentage Change (+/-)
Allstate P&C$6,468.92$2,029.6831.38%
Geico General$3,692.81-$746.43-20.21%
Progressive Direct$4,970.26$531.0110.68%
State Farm Mutual Auto$4,074.05-$365.20-8.96%
USAA CIC$2,580.44-$1,858.81-72.03%
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Geico and USAA are the cheapest auto insurance providers in D.C. Do remember, however, that USAA is only available to the members of the military and their family.

Auto Insurance Rates by Annual Commute in Washington D.C.

Insurance Providers10 miles commute/ 6000 annual mileage.25 miles commute/ 12000 annual mileage.
Allstate P&C$6,468.92$6,468.92
Geico General$3,626.75$3,758.87
Progressive Direct$4,970.26$4,970.26
State Farm Mutual Auto$3,931.51$4,216.58
USAA CIC$2,533.45$2,627.43
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More driving means more probability of getting involved in accidents – that’s why you pay less when you clock a lower mileage in your car.

State Farm and USAA offer a better rate for those who have a lower commute on a regular basis in D.C. When negotiating for rates, you should ask your agent about low mileage discounts if you don’t use your car for regular commutes to work.

Auto Insurance Rates by Coverage Level in Washington D.C.

Insurance ProvidersLowMediumHigh
State Farm$3,801.27$4,095.14$4,325.73
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The level of coverage you choose also changes the premium cost you pay. By choosing low coverage, you can reduce your rates, however, lower limits may not cover your expenses in the event of a major accident.

Auto Insurance Rates by Credit History in Washington D.C.

Insurance ProvidersPoorFairGood
State Farm$5,778.24$3,595.91$2,847.98
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If you have a poor credit history, you’re charged a higher premium because of the uncertainty associated with your ability to pay premiums.

Almost all insurers charge much higher from those with a poor credit history than those with a good record.

As per the State of Credit Survey 2017, the average vantage score in D.C. was 670 as compared to the national average of 675.

Vantage score is a credit rating model, designed by Experian, Equifax, and TransUnion, which assigns scores between 300 and 850 to consumers depending on their ability to pay off debts.vantage score by experian

The survey also found that D.C. is amongst the top 10 territories with the highest amount of credit card debt.

Auto Insurance Rates by Driving Record in Washington D.C.

Insurance ProvidersClean recordWith 1 accidentWith 1 DUIWith 1 speeding violation
State Farm$3,703.83$4,444.25$4,074.05$4,074.05
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Safe driving can always get you the best rates from all auto insurers.

What really can mess your rates is a DUI record. Most of the insurers charge a much higher premium from those who were caught driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs by law enforcement officers.

Leading Car Insurance Providers in Washington D.C.

RankInsurance ProvidersDirect Written PremiumsLoss RatioMarket Share
2State Farm Group$72,05087.55%20.74%
3USAA Group$31,47782.44%9.06%
4Progressive Group$29,45556.49%8.48%
5Allstate Insurance Group$23,39248.74%6.73%
6Travelers Group$12,01050.52%3.46%
7Liberty Mutual Group$11,87647.80%3.42%
8Nationwide Corp Group$11,73852.63%3.38%
9Erie Insurance Group$8,35875.75%2.41%
10Hartford Fire & Casualty Group$5,08654.10%1.46%
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– Number of Insurance Providers in Washington D.C.

Type of InsurerNumber
Domestic Insurers6
Foreign Insurers790
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Laws in Washington D.C.

Though it goes without saying that you should follow the laws of your state irrespective of where you’re based, you just have to be extra cautious in the nation’s capital.

Because you can find law enforcement officers at practically every traffic circle – one mistake and you can get a ticket which will raise your insurance rates.

We are including this section so that you’re well aware of every law related to driving and car insurance in D.C.

– Car Insurance Laws in Washington D.C.

Car insurance laws are in place to protect the interests of consumers as well as curb fraudulent activities in the market.

Let’s look at some laws that might come handy for you someday.

How State Laws for Insurance are Determined

State laws have a considerable impact on how rates are determined and approved, which type of tort law is adopted, and the minimum coverage limit for liability insurance.

As obvious, state laws aim to regulate the rates so that it’s something affordable across all income groups.

To determine the rates, every state utilizes a mechanism as required by the law which is stated in the documents of the National Association of Insurance Commissioners:

  1. Determined by the commissioner: The rates are decided by the commissioner of state.
  2. Prior approval: Before using the rates, it must be filed with the state insurance department and approved.
  3. Modified prior approval: Rate revisions should be first approved by the state insurance department.
  4. Flex rating: Prior approval is required if the new rate is either higher or lower than previously filed rates.
  5. File and use: Insurers can use the rates after filing it with the state insurance department.
  6. Use and file: Rates should be filed within a specified time-period after they have been put to use.
  7. No file: Rates aren’t required to filed or approved for use.

In D.C., auto insurers are required to “file and use” for rate filings. If the commissioner thinks that rates are inadequate or excessive, a revision shall be ordered.

Windshield Coverage Law in Washington D.C.

The law in D.C. prohibits motorists to drive with a cracked windshield or any stickers pasted on the windshield that obstructs their view.

– High-Risk Car Insurance in Washington D.C.

Do you know that you can be denied car insurance if you’re a high-risk driver?

Anyone who has accumulated a couple of blots (accidents, speeding violations, or DUI) on their driving record are considered high-risk by auto insurers.

When you’re a high-risk driver, the chances of filing a claim rises exponentially which in turn raises the cost for insurers.

What can you do if you were denied car insurance?

As a last resort, you can get coverage from the District of Columbia Automobile Insurance Plan (DC AIP) that offers insurance to high-risk drivers.

What is the  District of Columbia Automobile Insurance Plan (DC AIP)?

Established in 1982, the DC AIP program is the district’s assigned risk plan which pools all high-risk drivers together.

Auto insurers, licensed to conduct operations in D.C., must offer coverage to a specific percentage of these high-risk drivers depending on their market share.

How long is the coverage valid under the plan?

Once accepted into the program, motorists are guaranteed coverage for a period of three years. During this time, you must try to improve your driving record to get coverage from the voluntary insurance market.

Since this program is for high-risk drivers, the premiums tend to be considerably high.

To apply to the DC AIP, you must meet the eligibility criteria:

  • Certify that you were unable to get coverage in the voluntary insurance market in the last 60 days.
  • Carry a valid driver’s license and a locally registered vehicle

Automobile Insurance Fraud in Washington D.C.

Insurance fraud can be committed in many ways; from staging accidents to lying in your application form about your correct location with the intent to benefit from the claim settlement amount or to get low premium rates.

When people find loopholes in the system and commit fraud, they not only get penalized (if caught) but force insurers to make an overall change in premium rates.

Do you know why?

As per estimates of the esteemed Insurance Information Institute, the property and casualty sector registered losses of $30 billion annually between the 2013-17 period.

To make up for these losses, insurance companies pass on the cost to consumers in the form of increased premium rates.

That’s why it’s important to stay away from any fraudulent activity and report anything that you find suspicious.

What comprises of insurance fraud? Let’s look at this video to understand more.

We recommend motorists to report any fraud that they come across or are suspicious about to D.C. Department of Insurance, Securities and Banking.

If you have any questions regarding your concerns, you can get answers from the department’s Consumer Services Division by writing at [email protected], sending a fax to (202) 354-1085 or calling (202) 727-8000.

Statute of Limitations in Washington D.C.

The statute of limitations is a law that specifies the time limit after a car accident during which you can file a lawsuit against the other party.

You aren’t allowed to sue someone after the expiry of this time period, except under a few circumstances.

So, how long do you have in D.C. after a crash?

Laws in your district require motorists to file any lawsuits for personal injury or property damage within three years of the crash.

Vehicle Licensing Laws in Washington D.C.

Getting your first driver’s license is liberating, but your work doesn’t stop there.

You have to keep it updated by renewing it timely and making sure it’s compliant with any new regulations.

Real ID in Washington D.C.

When you travel inside the country by air, you mostly present your driver’s license as proof of identification at security check-points.

Starting October 1, 2020, your license should be Real ID compliant for travel in commercial flights and entry into certain federal facilities.

Why Real ID?

The Real ID Act aims to establish certain safety measures, as part of the national security strategy, for better identification of people who may access federal facilities, nuclear power plants, or travel by commercial flights.

How can you get a Real ID compliant license in D.C.?

You have to visit your local DMV office to get a Real ID compliant license. To obtain the license, you will need to show proof of:

  1. Identity
  2. Social Security Number
  3. Current Residency in D.C.

Real ID_DC

The new Real ID compliant license has a start printed on the upper-right corner.

– Penalties for Driving without Insurance in Washington D.C.

Under D.C. law, motorists can be stopped by law enforcement officers and asked for proof of auto insurance.

If a motorist is caught without insurance, they would be fined:

  • Up to $150 between one and 30 days
  • Additional $7 for each subsequent 30 days with a maximum cap on fines of $2,500

These fines might seem like a one-time expense at a glance, however, your vehicle registration and driver’s license could also be suspended.

Once you have a record of driving without insurance, carriers would charge a much higher rate from you as you’re placed in the high-risk category.

– Teen Driver Laws in Washington D.C.

As much as your kids want their independence by obtaining a license and driving everywhere on their own, it’s always a stressful phase for parents.

Because you know they’re inexperienced and the consequences of accidents can be far-reaching.

But, here’s the good part for parents in D.C. – the district works through a Graduated License Program (GRAD) to help teens become better drivers and also offers online resources to get handy information for new drivers.

Stages of the GRAD Program:

Learner’s Permit: Teens must be at least 16 to be eligible for a learner’s permit in D.C. The permit can be obtained by passing a knowledge and vision test.

Since this is the first time teens start driving, there are certain restrictions they must observe:

  • Drive between the permissible hours of 6 AM and 9 PM
  • Must drive under the supervision of an adult driver with a valid license who’s above 21
  • Should complete 40 hours of supervised driving
  • Stay away from cell phones for texting or calling while driving

Provisional License: If a motorist is under 21 and has successfully completed six months with a learner’s permit, he/she becomes eligible for a provisional license.

To obtain the license, a driver should pass the road test and meet all the conditions stated in the learner’s permit. The provisional license is valid for one year.

Full License with Conditions: After holding the provisional license for six months, drivers who are at least 17 become eligible for a full license with conditions.

To obtain the full license, you must certify that you have completed 10 hours of nighttime driving with an adult driver above 21 and were not convicted for any crime in the last 12 months.

As the name suggests, the full license comes with its set of conditions for those under 18:

  • You’re allowed to drive alone with a full license
  • You can’t drive with more than two passengers who are under 21 except if those passengers are your siblings
  • Everyone in the car should wear seatbelts while you’re driving
  • Driving hours are also restricted from 6 AM to 11:59 PM

We would also recommend teens to apply for a Real ID compliant license as that would allow you to enter federal facilities and fly by commercial flights.

License Renewal Procedure in Washington D.C.

As a resident of D.C., you are required to renew your driver’s license every eight years. Your DMV would send the license renewal notice 60 days before the expiration date.

D.C. offers license renewals by mail, online, or in-person. For those over 70, only in-person renewals are allowed.

Are you required to take a knowledge test before renewals?

You have to take the knowledge test only if your license has been expired for more than 365 days though it can be waived if you take the online traffic school course.

If your license expiry period has exceeded 545 days, then you would be required to take both the knowledge and road test.

New Residents in Washington D.C.

As a new resident, you might have many questions about getting a new license or registering your vehicle.

New residents can visit the DMV website for all resources that can make their move smooth.

– Rules of the Road in Washington D.C.

To keep your car insurance rates low and keep everyone safe on the road, you must follow some basic rules on the road.

Fault vs No-Fault Law in Washington D.C.

D.C. follows the no-fault system which means that motorists can make claims from their own insurance company for any damages after an accident irrespective of fault.

Car Seat and Seat Belt Laws in Washington D.C.

For seat belt laws, D.C. has one of the strictest laws in the country and police officers can stop you for not wearing a belt.

The penalty for not buckling up properly is $50 and two points.

Drivers are also responsible for properly restraining children in car seats and can face penalties if they fail to do so.

D.C. Child Restraint Law

Children under the age of 16 must be restrained by a car seat or a seat belt depending on their age and weight as per the law.

  • Under 8: Must be properly restrained in an infant, toddler or booster seat in line with the seat manufacturer’s instructions.
  • Age 8-13: Though the law doesn’t prevent children to sit in the front seat, it’s recommended that children below 13 should be seated in the back seat.

Naturally, there are penalties for not following the child restraint law.

Number of OffensePenalty
First ViolationChoice between $75 fine or Child Restraint Safety Class
Second ViolationFine of $75 and Child Restraint Safety Class
Third ViolationFine of $125
Fourth ViolationFine of $150
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Speed Limits in Washington D.C.

Surprisingly D.C. doesn’t have any move-over law in place as it doesn’t have highways like other states. Still, we would recommend you to be cautious for any emergency stationary vehicles on the road.

And, do remember to always follow the speed limit in your district.

  • On all streets in D.C., the speed limit is 25 mph unless some other limit is posted
  • On the streets close to school premises and grounds, the maximum speed is 15 mph when students are in school
  • In alleys, the maximum allowed speed is 15 mph
  • On highways and interstates, the maximum limit is 55 mph

The law in D.C. allows police officers to double the speed limit violation fines in a work or school zone.

Ridesharing Laws in Washington D.C.

In 2014, D.C. passed a bill to legalize ridesharing services, Uber and Lyft, making it the first jurisdiction in the country to take this step.

The district included regulations for ensuring the safety of passengers in the bill, known as Transportation Network Services Innovation Act Of 2014.

In D.C., a person must go through a few security checks to become a ridesharing service driver:

  • Criminal background check at the local and national level
  • Sex offender background check
  • Complete driving history check

Drivers are also required to maintain insurance while they are logged in the app or riding with a passenger.

  • When a driver is engaged in a ride, insurance coverage of $1 million per accident should be maintained
  • When a driver is logged in the app, insurance coverage of $50,000 per person/$100,000 per accident and property damage of $25,000 per accident should be maintained.

Automation on the Road in Washington D.C.

Like the 50 states, D.C. is also taking steps to adopt autonomous vehicles in the district and allows testing on the roads.

Last year, car manufacturer Ford announced that it would test driverless vehicles in D.C.

In Feb 2018, Mayor Bowser created an Autonomous Vehicle Working Group to discuss the impact of autonomous vehicles.

Safety Laws in Washington D.C.

Not every motorist is responsible like you. There are those reckless souls who like to risk it for everyone by driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs.

How does your district handle these motorists? Let’s find out.

– DUI Laws in Washington D.C.

The Metropolitan Department of D.C. enforces three distinct categories of regulations to prevent driving while intoxicated.

  • Driving While Intoxicated (DWI): This applies to motorists who are found driving with a Blood Alcohol Level (BAC) of 0.08 percent or more. Do remember that you can be convicted solely on the basis of breath, urine, or blood test.
  • Driving Under the Influence (DUI): This applies to motorists who test positive for a BAC of 0.07 percent or less.
  • Under Age Drinking: For those under 21, consumption of alcohol is completely prohibited. If you’re caught with any trace of alcohol while driving, you would be arrested and charged.

DUI charges are always taken seriously and attract penalties with jail time.

Offense StatusJailFineLicense Revocation
First Offense180 days$1,0006-months
Second Offense12 months$2,500-$5,0001-year
Third Offense12 months$2,500-$10,0002-year
Fourth Offense12 months$2,500-$10,000-
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For each offense, you can either get jail time or charged a fine or face both depending on the severity of your situation.

Distracted Driving Laws in Washington D.C.

When you look at your phone to check messages or pick calls while driving, the mind wanders to a different zone for a split second.

During that moment, you may collide with something or someone while your eyes aren’t on the road.

That’s why every state has to enforce distracted driving laws to ensure safety on roads.

Laws in D.C. prohibit the use of hand-held devices for all motorists while driving. However, if you have a hands-free accessory with your phone, you’re allowed to use it for making calls.

Driving in Washington D.C.

There are reasons that raise the insurance premium rates in certain areas – car theft numbers, fatality rates, and the density of population are some of those.

Let’s look at some of this data in your district.

Vehicle Theft in Washington D.C.

RankMake & ModelYear of VehicleNumber of Thefts
1Dodge Caravan2002167
2Honda Accord1997132
3Jeep Cherokee/Grand Cherokee2001109
4Toyota Camry201495
5Toyota Corolla201070
6Nissan Altima201562
7Ford Pickup (Full Size)199749
8Chevrolet Pickup (Full Size)199941
9Chevrolet Impala201340
9Chrysler 300/300M200540
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In 2016, the total number of vehicle thefts in D.C. was 2,899 as per data from the FBI. And the most popular vehicle for theft was the Dodge Caravan.

Road Fatalities in Washington D.C.

In this section, we would look at the reasons behind road accidents, how many fatalities were reported, teen driving stats, and more data from the National Highway Traffic Highway Administration.

Fatal Crashes by Weather Condition and Light Condition

Weather ConditionDaylightDark,
but Lighted
DarkDawn or DuskOther/UnknownTotal
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Most of the accidents in D.C. happen after it gets dark.

Fatality Trend for Five Years

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Traffic Fatalities

Road Type2008200920102011201220132014201520162017
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As D.C. is an urban area, we have shown the fatality numbers for urban roads in the last ten years.

Fatalities by Person Type

Person Type20132014201520162017
Passenger Car476812
Light Truck - Utility13041
Light Truck - Van10000
Large Truck10000
Total Occupants71061214
Light Truck - Pickup00001
Total Motorcyclists33364
Bicyclist and Other Cyclist11112
Total Nonoccupants101014913
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Fatalities by Crash Type

Crash Type20132014201520162017
Total Fatalities (All Crashes)2023232731
Single Vehicle1316171824
Involving a Large Truck35200
Involving Speeding91271617
Involving a Rollover34134
Involving a Roadway Departure6751113
Involving an Intersection (or Intersection Related)1010101010
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Fatalities in Crashes Involving Speeding

YearNumber of Fatalities
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Fatalities in Crashes Involving an Alcohol-Impaired Driver

YearNumber of Fatalities
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Teen Drinking and Driving

DUI offenses aren’t taken lightly in D.C. especially when teens are involved.

Fortunately, there were no DUI arrests under the age of 18 in D.C. as per data from the FBI.

Moreover, D.C. hasn’t reported any fatalities under the age of 21 for alcohol-impaired driving.

EMS Response Time

Road TypeTime of Crash to EMS
EMS Notification to
EMS Arrival
EMS Arrival at Scene
to Hospital Arrival
Time of Crash to Hospital
Total Fatal Crashes
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Transportation in Washington D.C.

Driving in a city is also influenced by how many cars one household owns and how the traffic is during peak office hours.

These factors lead to congestions making it somewhat difficult to move around by car.

Car Ownership in Washington D.C.

Car Ownership in Washington D.C.

Most of the residents in D.C. own one car as illustrated in the chart above by Data USA. In comparison, the national average for car ownership is two per household (in grey).

Commute Time in Washington D.C.

Commute Time in Washington D.C.

On average, the residents of D.C. have a commute time of 28.6 minutes which is longer than the national average of 25.5 minutes.

Commuter Transportation in Washington D.C.

Commuter Transportation in Washington D.C.

Though the most preferred method of commute for employees in D.C. is driving by themselves to work, there’s a large percentage (32.7 percent) of the population that uses public transit.

As compared to the national average, the people of D.C. are almost equally divided between driving and using public transport, while the rest of the country prefers to drive alone to work majorly.

Traffic Congestion in Washington D.C.

Despite the drastically lower percentage of people driving to work in D.C., it’s the second most congested city in America as per data from the traffic analytics firm, Inrix.

Traffic congestion in D.C.

The speed of commuting reduces below 20 mph during peak hours.

Drivers in the district spent around 155 hours stuck in traffic and the cost of congestion amounted to $2,161 per driver.

We think you’re now well-versed with car insurance options and traffic rules in your district.

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