What Happens if I Let My WV Auto Insurance Policy Lapse?
Having a lapse in auto insurance coverage in West Virginia can come with consequences such as the suspension of vehicle registration and driving privileges.
Insurers in the state are required to notify the Division of Motor Vehicles (DMV) within 10 days of a policyholder’s coverage cancellation. And according to state law, the DMV may suspend the driver’s license and registration for 30 days upon being notified of a cancellation. But if the motorist supplies the division with proof of a policy in that 30-day period, driving privileges and registration will be reinstated immediately.
The DMV also conducts verifications of policies throughout the year. If the DMV conducts a verification of West Virginia auto insurance and finds no coverage on file, the vehicle owner will be sent a notice requesting proof of a policy. Failure to provide the necessary documentation will lead to a driver's license suspension as well as a suspended registration.
The monetary penalty for having a vehicle's registration suspended for failing to provide proof of insurance is a $100 reinstatement fee, and proof of coverage will need to be provided. In addition, driving privileges will be suspended for 30 days. A subsequent offense will result in a 90-day suspension. Following the suspension period, a $50 reinstatement fee will need to be paid in order to regain driving privileges.
On another note, providing false or fraudulent coverage information is a serious offense that can come with harsh penalties. Automobile owners can have their driver's license suspended for 90 days, have their vehicle revoked, be fined up to $1,000, and face up to one year in jail.
Additional Consequences for Coverage Lapses
Although being caught with a registered, uninsured vehicle can lead to penalties being imposed by the state, there are other consequences that can come from a lapsed policy: Being involved in a traffic accident while driving without proper coverage can turn out to be financially devastating.
A driver who causes a traffic accident while operating an uninsured motor vehicle can be held responsible for paying out of pocket for the injuries and/or damages sustained by a third party. Depending on the severity of the accident, this could result in a large financial burden for the at-fault motorist.
For example, if an uninsured motorist were to strike a vehicle containing multiple parties who each suffered injuries, the cost of medical care could easily be in the tens of thousands of dollars, especially if emergency services are required. These costs can also increase substantially if the injured parties require hospital care.
If the vehicle in the accident sustains significant damage and is declared a total loss, then this can only add to the financial burden, since the responsible party will likely have to pay for the replacement of the vehicle.
Considering the consequences, both legal and monetary, drivers should avoid allowing car insurance coverage to lapse and remain insured at all times while their vehicles are registered.