How much car insurance do I need in D.C.?

Learn about minimum insurance coverage requirements for vehicles in D.C., consequences for driving without insurance, and more.

When it comes to car insurance, the “one size fits all” rule never applies. Finding the right coverage can be a daunting proposition because needs vary with every individual and family. Making the process even more complex is that the rules that apply to car insurance also vary from state to state, and that goes for the District of Columbia too.

In Washington, D.C., you are legally required to carry car insurance on any vehicle registered and in operation in the district. Specifically, D.C. requires that every person applying for vehicle registration or a reciprocity sticker have proof of valid insurance. To ascertain which types of car insurance coverage will best fit your situation, it's usually helpful to start with an understanding of the minimum amounts required by law. For D.C., those are listed in the chart below. (To learn about how D.C.'s no-fault system works, check out our article D.C. No-Fault Car Insurance.)

Coverage Type

Washington, D.C. Requirements

Bodily Injury Liability

$25,000 per person/$50,000 per accident

Property Damage Liability


Uninsured Motorist

$25,000 per person/$50,000 per accident

$5,000 for property damage

Underinsured Motorist

$25,000 per person/$50,000 per accident

$5,000 for property damage

Medical Payments

Not required


Not required


Not required

The District of Columbia, like most states, imposes both criminal and administrative penalties if you fail to maintain continuous insurance on your vehicle. You could be fined an amount up to $2,500, depending on the circumstances. The infraction could also result in a suspension of your vehicle tags, meaning that you no could no longer drive within the District. Those official penalties are in addition to other practical repercussions that could result from driving without insurance.

If you cause an accident and do not have the requisite insurance coverage, you will likely have to pay for any damages from your own resources. This can run into the thousands, or tens of thousands of dollars depending on the circumstances of the accident. Learn more: What to Do After a Car Accident If You Don't Have Insurance.

The insurance coverage amounts listed above are not recommendations to you, but rather serve just as reference points to understand the minimum requirements. A local insurance agent who can better explain to you the intricacies of the various insurance rules where you live. There are several other sources of information that you can review, including our article What Car Insurance Is Right For You?. You can also get more information from the District of Columbia Department of Motor Vehicles.

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