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Washington DC Auto Insurance Review (Coverage, Rates, & More)

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UPDATED: Mar 18, 2020

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Washington D.C. Statistics SummaryDetails
Road MilesTotal in State: 1,507 Vehicle Miles
Driven: 355.7 billion
VehiclesRegistered: 318,515
Stolen: 3,264
State Population702,455
Most Popular VehicleHonda Civic
Uninsured Motorists15.6%
State Rank: 10
Total Driving Fatalities2008-2017
Speeding: 110
Drunk Driving: 82
Annual Average PremiumsCollision: $449.27
Comprehensive: $230.25
Liability: $628.09
Cheapest ProvidersUSAA CIC &
GEICO

Washington D.C., the nation’s capital. There’s more to see and do in 68 square miles than you could likely ever fully experience. History? Check. Museums? Check. Food? There are delicious eats everywhere you turn. Shopping? Get out your wallet. Luxury lifestyle spots? It has those too.

Washington D.C. is not technically a state. Instead, it’s a territory, and many of the area’s residents don’t live in Washington D.C. proper, but in the surrounding areas. This means there is heavy commuting in and out of the District of Columbia.

While the district is known for having a number of alternative forms of transportation like the Metro, Uber, and more, many residents still choose to drive, as do many of the visitors to the area.

With around 22 million visitors in 2018 alone, the area sees not just local drivers, but also millions of visiting drivers every year. Whether you’re a resident or just visiting the nation’s capital, you need to make sure you have the right insurance coverage so you are legal on the road and have the financial protection you need.

Ready to start looking for the right insurance coverage for your lifestyle? Research is your best friend when figuring out the most cost-effective coverage mix for your needs.

We know this can be overwhelming. Google will show you hundreds, if not thousands, of results for anything you search. How do you filter the information down to what’s relevant for your life?

Don’t worry, we’ve put together everything you need to make the right decision for your coverage. Keep reading to learn more.

Table of Contents

Washington D.C. Car Insurance Coverage and Rates

It’s not always easy to figure out which car insurance company and coverage type are right for you. Where do you even start? If you watch television or listen to the radio, every car insurance company has the best, most affordable, most comprehensive coverage. How do you get through the noise to figure out what actually is best for you?

Choosing the right coverage mix and insurance company is a personal decision. Only you can decide what best fits your needs. But how do you even know what to consider when making this decision?

We know how overwhelming this can be. So to make it easier for you, we’ve compiled (and explained) key data and information you need on insurance providers in the district, coverage types you can buy, laws that both the insurance companies and you must follow, and more.

Using that information, you can make an informed decision on your car insurance coverage.

Ready to get started? Let’s begin with the basics. What’s a fair price? How is that price derived? Are all insurance coverage costs the same? Take a look at this table to find out an average cost for all coverage types for residents in Washington D.C. versus the rest of the country.

Washington D.C. AverageNational AveragePercent Difference
$2,174$1,47447.49%

As you can see, the national average for insurance in the above table is $1,474, compared to the Washington D.C. average of $2,174.

In other words, if you live in the District of Columbia, you pay around 47 percent more for car insurance coverage than drivers across the country. Why is the district average so much higher than the national average?

Keep reading to find out more information on how this rate is derived, what factors insurance companies consider, and why you can expect to pay so much more if you live in Washington D.C.

Washington D.C.’s Car Culture

As you saw in the Washington D.C. statistics summary at the top of this page, the most popular vehicle for residents is a Honda Civic. This makes sense when you consider the commuter lifestyle to which many residents ascribe.

Some claim Washington D.C. has no car culture. The traffic and parking are so frustrating that people use alternative forms of transportation as much as possible. However, many still drive in and around the city.

There is also a multi-day car show every spring that is one of the largest indoor events in the region. This event includes hundreds of cars ranging from the exotic to the practical. Stunt drivers put cars to the test on an indoor track, celebrities often attend, artists put their spin on one-of-a-kind cars and motorcycles, and more.

Washington D.C. Minimum Coverage

If you live anywhere in the United States, you are likely required to maintain a minimum insurance coverage level of some amount. Most states have a set requirement every driver must have to register a vehicle and legally drive. This helps to protect all drivers financially if an accident occurs.

The nation’s capital is no exception. Check out this table to see what you have to maintain to drive legally in the District of Columbia.

Required InsuranceMinimum Limits
Bodily Injury$25,000 per person
$50,000 per accident
Property Damage Liability$10,000
Uninsured Motorst Bodiliy Injury$25,000 per person
$50,000 per accident
Uninusred Motorist Property Damage$5,000
subject to $200 deductible

As you can see in the above table, in addition to what is typically included in minimum liability coverage (bodily injury and property damage liabilities), drivers in the district must also buy uninsured motorist coverage.

This isn’t always a state requirement, but given that Washington D.C. is 15th in the nation for uninsured motorists, it should come as no surprise.

Washington D.C. also maintains a no-fault system, which means your insurance company compensates you for any damages that result from an accident, no matter who is at fault.

This means your insurance coverage needs to protect you from whatever might happen to you on the road because you’ll file a claim with your insurance company, rather than the at-fault driver’s insurance.

Washington D.C. is one of only three states in the country that does NOT allow electronic proof of insurance, so make sure you have your physical insurance card with you any time you’re driving in the area.

Check out the next few sections to learn more about coverage options beyond the minimum to ensure that you have the level of financial protection you need.

Forms of Financial Responsibility

Proof of financial responsibility is a way to demonstrate that when an accident occurs, you have the financial resources to cover damages. For most states, the primary method to provide proof of financial responsibility is through your car insurance coverage.

Some states also allow drivers to provide proof of financial responsibility by submitting large amounts of funds (usually at least $40,000) to the state, to be held in case of an accident. However, this is not the case in Washington D.C.

The only acceptable form of financial responsibility in Washington D.C.  is car insurance. 

As noted in the previous section, the only acceptable form of proof of insurance in the nation’s capital is a physical insurance card. Electronic forms of proof of insurance are not considered valid.

Premiums as a Percentage of Income

You already know that insurance is required to drive in the District of Columbia. And insurance costs money. As you saw earlier, on average, residents of Washington D.C. pay almost double the national average for car insurance coverage.

But what does this look like for your income? How much of your disposable income will you need to save to pay your car insurance premiums?

Take a look at this table to see the percentage of disposable income the average resident of Washington D.C. spends on car insurance, compared to the national average.

 201220132014
Washington D.C. Average2.26%2.33%2.21%
National Average2.34%2.43%2.40%
Percent Difference-3%-4%-8%

Based on the difference in cost between car insurance coverage for residents of the nation’s capital and the national average, you might expect that the percent of disposable income spent on car insurance for Washington D.C. residents would be higher than the national average. However, it is actually less.

Across the three years shown above, Washington D.C. residents spend about 5 percent less of their disposable income on car insurance than the national average.

This means that while the dollar amount average spent on car insurance coverage is double the national average, the income in the Washington D.C. area is higher than the average income across the country.

Next, let’s take a look at how Washington D.C. compares to its neighbors. This table contrasts disposable income allocated for car insurance for Washington D.C., Maryland, Virginia, West Virginia, Pennsylvania, and Delaware.

State201220132014
Virginia1.79%1.91%1.90%
Washington D.C.2.26%2.33%2.21%
Maryland2.26%2.35%2.34%
Pennsylvania2.26%2.35%2.24%
Delaware2.97%3.05%3.02%
West Virginia3.18%3.26%3.20%
As you can see, residents of Washington D.C. spend less than or equal amounts of their disposable income as compared to most of their neighbors. Only drivers in Virginia spend less of their disposable income on car insurance than drivers in the district.

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Core Coverage

Since Washington D.C. operates under a no-fault system, minimum liability coverage is likely not enough, as your insurance company will be responsible for paying out any claims. With this in mind, what other coverage options do you have?

We’re glad you asked.

Core coverage includes collision, comprehensive, and combined or full coverage options. To learn more about these options so you can determine which is right for you, take a look at this video.

As always, price can be a defining factor in your decision-making process. How much can you expect to pay for these core coverage options? This table compares the average costs for each of the different coverage types in Washington D.C. to the national average cost.

Coverage Type2011-2015 Average Cost in Washington D.C.2011-2015 National Average CostPercent Difference
Liability$628.09$516.3921.63%
Collission$449.27$299.7349.89%
Comprehensive$230.25$138.8765.80%
Full/Combined$1,307.62$954.9936.92%

When you look at this table, please keep in mind that the data (from the National Association of Insurance Commissioners, or NAIC) is based on the minimum insurance coverage requirements in Washington D.C.

The key takeaway is that you can use these numbers to start forming a picture of what baseline insurance costs look like, so you can determine what a fair price is for your coverage needs.

Additional Liability

In addition to core coverage, you can include additional liability coverage in your insurance policy. There are two or three primary forms of additional liability coverage you can buy.

We say two or three because uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage is often considered additional liability coverage. However, in Washington D.C. it is mandatory as a part of the minimum liability coverage required by the local government.

Uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage keeps you financially safe if you are in an accident with an uninsured driver. Currently, 15.6 percent of drivers in the nation’s capital are uninsured (making the district 10th in the nation for uninsured drivers), which may provide some insight into why this coverage is mandatory.

The other two additional liability coverage options you can buy are described below.

  • Medical Payments (MedPay) – provides additional coverage for medical costs that aren’t covered by your core insurance coverage (for both you and anyone listed on your policy).
  • Personal Injury Protection (PIP) – provides additional coverage for medical costs that aren’t already covered by your core insurance coverage (for you and anyone involved in an accident, no matter who is at fault).

You need to know all the options available to you for car insurance coverage so you can determine which coverage mix best fits your lifestyle.

However, to make a truly informed decision on your car insurance coverage, you’ll need to know more than just what options are available to you. You want to know that your insurance company is capable and willing to pay out claims on those options.

We use what is called loss ratio data provided by the NAIC to find out if companies are both willing and able to pay out on insurance claims for the additional liability coverage we’ve just discussed. It’s also an indicator of whether a company is paying out on too many claims.

Loss ratio is calculated by dividing the number of claims an insurance provider pays out on by their paid premiums. You want your insurance company to be in a healthy range for loss ratio, because this indicates they pay out a reasonable number of claims (not too many and not too few).

Typically the preferred range for a company’s loss ratio is between 60 and 80 percent. If a company’s loss ratio is above this range, they’re paying out too many claims and are losing money, and if their loss ratio is below this range, they’re not paying out on enough claims.

To understand the loss ratio for additional liability coverage in Washington D.C., we’ve collected NAIC data on personal injury protection, uninsured/underinsured motorist, and MedPay coverage. Check out the table below to learn more.

Loss Ratio201320142015
Uninsured/Underinsured Motorist71.24%82.17%78.76%
Personal Injury Protection84.37%53.66%63.98%
MedPay85.86%54.31%27.40%

Uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage and personal injury protection (PIP) both have reasonably healthy loss ratios across the three years shown in the table (although in 2014, PIP was a bit low). However, MedPay is dramatically different across the three years. In 2013, the loss ratio was a little high, but still reasonably healthy.

In 2014, the loss ratio dropped 30 percent and was on the low side, but was still close to healthy. However, in 2015, the loss ratio was significantly lower than healthy, indicating that companies were not paying out enough claims in this area.

Add-ons, Endorsements, and Riders

Now that you know your core and additional liability coverage options, what if you realize you still need something more? There are some extra options you can consider and discuss with your insurance agent. These add-ons, endorsements, and riders are described below:

  • Guaranteed Auto Protection (GAP) – covers the gap between what your car is worth and what you still owe on your loan.
  • Personal Umbrella Policy (PUP)  – provides protection if you’re ever faced with a lawsuit as a result of your part in a car accident.
  • Rental Reimbursement – provides coverage if you have to rent a car if yours is damaged in an accident and is unavailable to drive while it is being repaired.
  • Emergency Roadside Assistance – provides coverage for various roadside needs, such as a flat tire or towing.
  • Mechanical Breakdown Insurance – provides repair coverage, often beyond what is covered by your vehicle’s warranty.
  • Non-Owner Car Insurance – provides insurance coverage when you don’t own a car.
  • Modified Car Insurance Coverage – provides coverage for vehicles with special modifications (ex. wheels/tires, specialty paint jobs, spoilers, etc.).
  • Classic Car Insurance – provides coverage for vehicles that are collector’s items.
  • Pay-As-You-Drive or Usage-Based Insurance – insurance coverage that is specifically focused on individual driving habits.

Male vs. Female Rates

Car insurance companies in Washington D.C. can still use gender to adjust your insurance rates, even though it is controversial. Some states such as California and Hawaii have made it illegal.

Eventually, the District of Columbia may follow suit. However, even if the laws do not change, insurance companies may need to begin reconsidering this practice in the near future, as the district is one of several places in the country that allow drivers to choose a third, gender-neutral option on their driver’s license.

Let’s take a look at data from Washington D.C. on insurance rates for both men and women at different ages and with different marital statuses to see if gender actually affects insurance rates in your area.

CompanySingle 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
USAA CIC$5,047.10$6,001.61$1,891.88$2,086.10$1,419.48$1,434.98$1,367.92$1,394.43
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
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
NICOA$7,768.94$9,857.18$3,851.14$4,139.93$3,437.91$3,453.36$3,102.55$3,180.87
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
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

As the data in the table shows, both age and gender can have a significant effect on your insurance rates in Washington D.C. However, not all insurance companies weigh these factors the same.

For example, State Farm Mutual Auto’s insurance rates for 17-year-old males are about 33 percent higher than their rates for females of the same age. By contrast, Progressive’s rates for 17-year-old males is 17 percent higher than for females.

For 17-year-old drivers, on average across all the companies listed, males pay about 23 percent more in insurance coverage than females do. However, this trend is not as significant as you age.

By the time they turn 25, males will pay an average of 3 percent more for car insurance than females will. Both USAA and State Farm charge about 10 percent more for car insurance if you are male. However, if you are a 25-year-old male insured by Geico, you’re in luck. You’ll pay about 20 percent less for insurance than female drivers of the same age.

At 35, the gender gap is almost eradicated. On average, men actually pay about a half of a percent less for insurance coverage than women do at 35. State Farm’s rates are identical for men and women age 35, and Geico and Progressive charge 35-year-old men about 6 and 3 percent less for insurance coverage, respectively.

The Quadrant data we’ve just analyzed includes rates for high-risk drivers, drivers with liability coverage only, and drivers who have additional, optional coverage. This ensures that the numbers are reflective of the majority of drivers in Washington D.C.

Cheapest Rates by ZIP Code

Another factor insurance companies consider when adjusting your rates is where you live. Why is this something insurance companies consider? At a minimum, they need to know what crime rates look like to better understand the risks you may face in your area.

One way insurance companies can determine premium rates based on where you live is to look at ZIP codes and the crime rates associated with each, and adjust accordingly. However, Washington D.C. is a little different. Check out these tables (the 25 most and 25 least expensive ZIP codes in the area) to see what we mean.

The 25 most expensive ZIP codes in Washington D.C. for car insurance rates:

Zip CodeCityAverage by Zip CodeMost Expensive CompanyMost Expensive Rate2nd Most Expensive Company2nd Most Expensive RateCheapest CompanyCheapest Rate2nd Cheapest Company2nd Cheapest Rate
20002WASHINGTON$4,440.79Allstate$6,468.92Progressive$4,979.53USAA$2,580.44GEICO$3,692.81
20003WASHINGTON$4,440.79Allstate$6,468.92Progressive$4,979.53USAA$2,580.44GEICO$3,692.81
20004WASHINGTON$4,440.79Allstate$6,468.92Progressive$4,979.53USAA$2,580.44GEICO$3,692.81
20005WASHINGTON$4,440.79Allstate$6,468.92Progressive$4,979.53USAA$2,580.44GEICO$3,692.81
20006WASHINGTON$4,440.79Allstate$6,468.92Progressive$4,979.53USAA$2,580.44GEICO$3,692.81
20007WASHINGTON$4,440.79Allstate$6,468.92Progressive$4,979.53USAA$2,580.44GEICO$3,692.81
20008WASHINGTON$4,440.79Allstate$6,468.92Progressive$4,979.53USAA$2,580.44GEICO$3,692.81
20009WASHINGTON$4,440.79Allstate$6,468.92Progressive$4,979.53USAA$2,580.44GEICO$3,692.81
20010WASHINGTON$4,440.79Allstate$6,468.92Progressive$4,979.53USAA$2,580.44GEICO$3,692.81
20011WASHINGTON$4,440.79Allstate$6,468.92Progressive$4,979.53USAA$2,580.44GEICO$3,692.81
20012WASHINGTON$4,440.79Allstate$6,468.92Progressive$4,979.53USAA$2,580.44GEICO$3,692.81
20015WASHINGTON$4,440.79Allstate$6,468.92Progressive$4,979.53USAA$2,580.44GEICO$3,692.81
20016WASHINGTON$4,440.79Allstate$6,468.92Progressive$4,979.53USAA$2,580.44GEICO$3,692.81
20017WASHINGTON$4,440.79Allstate$6,468.92Progressive$4,979.53USAA$2,580.44GEICO$3,692.81
20018WASHINGTON$4,440.79Allstate$6,468.92Progressive$4,979.53USAA$2,580.44GEICO$3,692.81
20019WASHINGTON$4,440.79Allstate$6,468.92Progressive$4,979.53USAA$2,580.44GEICO$3,692.81
20020WASHINGTON$4,440.79Allstate$6,468.92Progressive$4,979.53USAA$2,580.44GEICO$3,692.81
20024WASHINGTON$4,440.79Allstate$6,468.92Progressive$4,979.53USAA$2,580.44GEICO$3,692.81
20026WASHINGTON$4,440.79Allstate$6,468.92Progressive$4,979.53USAA$2,580.44GEICO$3,692.81
20032WASHINGTON$4,440.79Allstate$6,468.92Progressive$4,979.53USAA$2,580.44GEICO$3,692.81
20036WASHINGTON$4,440.79Allstate$6,468.92Progressive$4,979.53USAA$2,580.44GEICO$3,692.81
20037WASHINGTON$4,440.79Allstate$6,468.92Progressive$4,979.53USAA$2,580.44GEICO$3,692.81
20045WASHINGTON$4,440.79Allstate$6,468.92Progressive$4,979.53USAA$2,580.44GEICO$3,692.81
20052WASHINGTON$4,440.79Allstate$6,468.92Progressive$4,979.53USAA$2,580.44GEICO$3,692.81
20057WASHINGTON$4,440.79Allstate$6,468.92Progressive$4,979.53USAA$2,580.44GEICO$3,692.81

The 25 cheapest ZIP codes in Washington D.C. for car insurance rates:

Zip CodeCityAverage by Zip CodesMost Expensive CompanyMost Expensive Rate2nd Most Expensive Company2nd Most Expensive RateCheapest CompanyCheapest Rate2nd Cheapest Company2nd Cheapest Rate
20001WASHINGTON$4,383.61Allstate$6,468.92Nationwide$4,848.99USAA$2,580.44GEICO$3,692.81
20002WASHINGTON$4,440.79Allstate$6,468.92Progressive$4,979.53USAA$2,580.44GEICO$3,692.81
20003WASHINGTON$4,440.79Allstate$6,468.92Progressive$4,979.53USAA$2,580.44GEICO$3,692.81
20004WASHINGTON$4,440.79Allstate$6,468.92Progressive$4,979.53USAA$2,580.44GEICO$3,692.81
20005WASHINGTON$4,440.79Allstate$6,468.92Progressive$4,979.53USAA$2,580.44GEICO$3,692.81
20006WASHINGTON$4,440.79Allstate$6,468.92Progressive$4,979.53USAA$2,580.44GEICO$3,692.81
20007WASHINGTON$4,440.79Allstate$6,468.92Progressive$4,979.53USAA$2,580.44GEICO$3,692.81
20008WASHINGTON$4,440.79Allstate$6,468.92Progressive$4,979.53USAA$2,580.44GEICO$3,692.81
20009WASHINGTON$4,440.79Allstate$6,468.92Progressive$4,979.53USAA$2,580.44GEICO$3,692.81
20010WASHINGTON$4,440.79Allstate$6,468.92Progressive$4,979.53USAA$2,580.44GEICO$3,692.81
20011WASHINGTON$4,440.79Allstate$6,468.92Progressive$4,979.53USAA$2,580.44GEICO$3,692.81
20012WASHINGTON$4,440.79Allstate$6,468.92Progressive$4,979.53USAA$2,580.44GEICO$3,692.81
20015WASHINGTON$4,440.79Allstate$6,468.92Progressive$4,979.53USAA$2,580.44GEICO$3,692.81
20016WASHINGTON$4,440.79Allstate$6,468.92Progressive$4,979.53USAA$2,580.44GEICO$3,692.81
20017WASHINGTON$4,440.79Allstate$6,468.92Progressive$4,979.53USAA$2,580.44GEICO$3,692.81
20018WASHINGTON$4,440.79Allstate$6,468.92Progressive$4,979.53USAA$2,580.44GEICO$3,692.81
20019WASHINGTON$4,440.79Allstate$6,468.92Progressive$4,979.53USAA$2,580.44GEICO$3,692.81
20020WASHINGTON$4,440.79Allstate$6,468.92Progressive$4,979.53USAA$2,580.44GEICO$3,692.81
20024WASHINGTON$4,440.79Allstate$6,468.92Progressive$4,979.53USAA$2,580.44GEICO$3,692.81
20026WASHINGTON$4,440.79Allstate$6,468.92Progressive$4,979.53USAA$2,580.44GEICO$3,692.81
20032WASHINGTON$4,440.79Allstate$6,468.92Progressive$4,979.53USAA$2,580.44GEICO$3,692.81
20036WASHINGTON$4,440.79Allstate$6,468.92Progressive$4,979.53USAA$2,580.44GEICO$3,692.81
20037WASHINGTON$4,440.79Allstate$6,468.92Progressive$4,979.53USAA$2,580.44GEICO$3,692.81
20045WASHINGTON$4,440.79Allstate$6,468.92Progressive$4,979.53USAA$2,580.44GEICO$3,692.81
20052WASHINGTON$4,440.79Allstate$6,468.92Progressive$4,979.53USAA$2,580.44GEICO$3,692.81

According to the Quadrant data in the above tables, the ZIP codes across the district all have the same average rates, except for ZIP code 20001, which is slightly lower than the rest. This may be due to the geographic and population size of the area, compared to states throughout the country.

Cheapest Rates by City

The next step is often to look at averages by city, so you can find out what rates to expect in your area, and how you compare to other areas in your state.

However, again, Washington D.C. is a little different, because, while it is not a city, it is also not a state. The nation’s capital is technically a territory and only has one region (the Washington Navy Yard) that is city-like within the borders of the district.

The most expensive cities in Washington D.C.:

 CityAverage by CityMost Expensive CompanyMost Expensive Rate2nd Most Expensive Company2nd Most Expensive RateCheapest CompanyCheapest Rate2nd Cheapest Company2nd Cheapest Rate
1.Washington Navy Yard$4,440.79Allstate$6,468.92Progressive$4,979.53USAA$2,580.44GEICO$3,692.81
2.Washington$4,439.00Allstate$6,468.92Progressive$4,968.81USAA$2,580.44GEICO$3,692.81

Least expensive cities in Washington D.C.:

 CityAverage by CityMost Expensive CompanyMost Expensive Rate2nd Most Expensive Company2nd Most Expensive RateCheapest CompanyCheapest Rate2nd Cheapest Company2nd Cheapest Rate
1.Washington$4,439.00Allstate$6,468.92Progressive$4,968.81USAA$2,580.44GEICO$3,692.81
2.Washington Navy Yard$4,440.79Allstate$6,468.92Progressive$4,979.53USAA$2,580.44GEICO$3,692.81

Other than the 20001 ZIP code, the average rates across the District of Columbia are the same.

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Best Washington D.C. Car Insurance Companies

Insurance coverage types, levels, rates, how they’re derived, and how your lifestyle factors can affect those rates are all important things to know when choosing the right insurance company and coverage for your lifestyle. But there are other variables you need to consider.

When you’re considering which insurance company to buy your insurance policy from, you need to know whether they can payout on claims, as well as their track record for doing so. You may also want to consider the customer service ratings for a particular company.

We know it can be difficult to find this kind of information. This is not standard data you can easily just Google. To help you, we’ve collected data and results from J.D. Power and A.M. Best in the next couple of sections.

The Largest Companies’ Financial Ratings

Knowing whether a company is both willing and financially stable enough to pay out on a claim if you find yourself in a situation in which you need to file one is important.

In Washington D.C., knowing that your insurance company is financially stable is especially important because of the “no-fault” system in the area. When you file for claims for any kind of damage, even if you’re not at fault, you must do so with your own insurance company.

You already know about loss ratio, which shows whether a company has a solid track record for paying out on claims. But how can you find out more about a company’s financial stability?

To enable customers to better understand the financial stability of the insurance companies in their area, A.M. Best reviews financial data for the insurance industry and reports out on their findings by rating companies’ financial stability. A.M. Best is a global credit firm that focuses specifically on the insurance industry.

Take a look at this table to find out more about the financial ratings and loss ratios for the largest insurance providers in Washington D.C.

Insurance CompanyRatingOutlookLoss Ratio
GEICOA++Stable66.84%
State Farm GroupA++Stable87.55%
USAA GroupA++Stable82.44%
Progressive GroupA+Stable56.49%
Allstate Insurance GroupA+Stable48.74%
Travelers GroupA++Stable50.52%
Liberty Mutual GroupAStable47.80%
Nationwide Corp GroupA+Stable52.63%
Erie Insurance GroupA+Stable75.75%
Hartford Fire & Casualty GroupA+Stable54.10%

To understand the information in the above table, you need to understand A.M. Best’s rating structure. They indicate that companies with an A- rating or better are both financially stable and have a stable outlook.

With this information in mind, you can be confident that the major insurance providers in the Washington D.C. area are all financially stable and able to pay out on claims, should you ever need to file one.

In looking at the loss ratio for the same list of companies, we can see that only two of the 10 are in the optimal 60 to 80 percent range.

However, another five are relatively close to a healthy range (within 8 percent above or below the optimal range). This is one more piece of data to consider when deciding which insurance company best suits your needs.

Companies with Best Ratings

Should you care about customer service? We think so. If the company you buy your insurance policy from has good customer service, they’ll be available when you need help, file a claim, or have questions.

How do you know if a company has good customer service? There is more than one way to determine the level and success of a company’s customer service. J.D. Power’s rating system is one way to learn more about a company’s customer service rating.

In early 2019, J.D. Power conducted a study looking at the customer service ratings for U.S. insurance companies. In this study, they examined what they call the Customer Service Index Rating for insurance companies in various states and regions throughout the United States.

To see how insurance companies’ customer service ratings look in the District of Columbia, check out the table below, which shows the customer service index rating for companies in the Mid-Atlantic region.

Insurance CompanyCustomer Satisfaction Index RatingJD Power Circle Ratings
Erie Insurance8525
GEICO8454
The Hartford8424
Mid-Atlantic Average8383
State Farm8343
Progressive8282
Farmers8262
Plymouth Rock Assurance8262
Nationwide8222
Travelers8212
CSAA Insurance Group8172
Liberty Mutual8172
Allstate8162
USAA*8985
NJM Insurance Co**8615

USAA and NJM Insurance Co. have the highest ratings at 898 and 861 points respectively, on a 1,000 point scale. However, USAA is only available to members of the military and their families, while NJM is only available to residents of New Jersey with specific kinds of jobs.

The highest-rated company that anyone can buy insurance from is Erie Insurance, which has 852 points and is the ninth-largest company in the nation’s capital.

All three companies have an “among the best” in the J.D. Power Circle category. In addition, Geico and The Hartford are the next highest, with 845 and 842 points each, and power circle ratings of “better than most.” However, the remaining companies in the list all have power circle ratings of average or below.

Companies with the Most Complaints in Washington D.C.

What do complaints look like for insurance companies? Does the insurance company you’ve bought your policy from get a significant number of complaints? What does their customer service rating look like compared to the number of complaints a company receives?

The NAIC produces a complaint ratio for insurance companies throughout the country. The complaint ratio is an indicator of the number of complaints insurance companies in a given area receive. You can use this data to help you make your insurance coverage decision.

The below table includes complaint ratio data for companies in the district compared to loss ratio, direct premiums written, and market share.

Insurance CompanyDirect Premiums WrittenComplaint RatioLoss RatioMarket Share
GEICO$125,8290.6866.84%36.22%
State Farm Group$72,0500.4487.55%20.74%
USAA Group$31,4770.7482.44%9.06%
Progressive Group$29,4550.7556.49%8.48%
Allstate Insurance Group$23,3920.548.74%6.73%
Travelers Group$12,0100.0950.52%3.46%
Liberty Mutual Group$11,8765.9547.80%3.42%
Nationwide Corp Group$11,7380.2852.63%3.38%
Erie Insurance Group$8,3580.775.75%2.41%
Hartford Fire & Casualty Group$5,0864.6854.10%1.46%

The NAIC generates complaint ratios by dividing the number of complaints a company receives by the number of premiums they write. An average number of complaints is represented by the number one.

If a complaint ratio is higher than 1, the company receives more than the average number of complaints, and if the ratio is less than one, they receive less than the average number of complaints.

Of the 10 largest companies in Washington D.C., eight have a complaint ratio that indicates a below-average number of complaints. This is a good data point (and a positive sign) for when you’re shopping for insurance.

Liberty Mutual Group has the highest complaint ratio at 5.95, which is not particularly surprising when compared to their J.D. Power Customer Satisfaction Index Rating and Power Circle Rating. Liberty Mutual has 817 out of 1,000 points and a two, respectively. The Power Circle Rating of two is particularly telling, as this is a “the rest” rating.

By contrast, Traveler’s Group has the lowest complaint ratio by a significant margin, with a 0.09 complaint ratio.  However, they, like Liberty Mutual, have a fairly low Customer Satisfaction Index Rating of 821 (only four points higher than Liberty Mutual), and a “the rest” Power Circle Rating.

If you ever need to file a complaint, you can do so through the Washington D.C. Department of Insurance, Securities and Banking (DISB). They offer both paper and online complaint forms for you to fill out. However, they request that you first file a complaint with the insurance company and document all your related communication.

If you find that the insurance company has not resolved your complaint in a satisfactory manner, then you can move forward with reporting your complaint to the DISB.

If you prefer to fill out a complaint form instead of using their online system, you can print the form, fill it out and then fax it to 202-345-1085, email it to disbcomplaints@dc.gov, or mail it to District of Columbia Department of Insurance, Securities and Banking, 1050 First St., NE, Suite 801, Washington, DC 20002.

If you have questions or concerns, you can call 202-727-8000, send a fax to 202-345-1085, or email at disbcomplaints@dc.gov.

Cheapest Companies in Washington D.C.

The average rate for car insurance in Washington D.C. is $4,439.24. You can see the average rates for car insurance for some of the primary insurers in the area in the table below.

CompanyAverage+/- Compared to State Average (Rate)+/- Compared to State Average (%)
USAA CIC$2,580-$1,858.81-72.03%
GEICO General$3,693-$746.43-20.21%
State Farm Mutual Auto$4,074-$365.20-8.96%
NICOA$4,849$409.748.45%
Progressive Direct$4,970$531.0110.68%
Allstate P&C$6,469$2,029.6831.38%

As you can see, different companies’ rates vary significantly. Allstate, for example, has the highest average rate ($6,469 per year), which is 31 percent higher than the average.

By contrast, USAA and Geico have the lowest average rates, at $2,580 and $3,693 per year, respectively. USAA is 72 percent lower than the area’s average, and Geico is 20 percent lower than the average.

Half of the six companies listed are below the average, while the remaining half are above the average. 

Though the difference between the lowest and highest rates is significant (about a 150 percent increase), insurance companies typically all consider the same factors (age, gender, ZIP code, etc.) when adjusting insurance rates for their customers.

The key is to understand which companies weigh different factors more and less heavily. You can then use this information to start narrowing down your search for the best insurance company (and coverage mix) for your lifestyle.

As you’ve seen already, age and gender can affect your insurance rates, though the extent to which those factors affect your rates varies from company to company. However, companies consider other variables beyond just age and gender when adjusting your rates. They also consider things like your driving record, commute distance, and credit score.

The next several sections provide more information on what you can expect from insurance companies depending on what your driving record, credit score, etc. look like.

Commute Rates by Companies

What is your typical commute like? Do you dread getting in your car every morning or when you leave work each evening, knowing you’re going to spend seemingly endless amounts of time driving? Commute distance is a common variable many car insurance companies consider when adjusting your rates.

Why?

Because the more you drive, the higher your chance of getting in a car accident. People with longer commute distances often pay higher insurance premiums than those with shorter commutes.

While this is true across the nation, it varies between states. What does this look like in Washington D.C.? The table below provides data so you can find out if your commute distance affects your insurance rates.

Insurance Company10 mile commute (6000 annual mileage average)25 mile commute (12000 annual mileage)Percent Difference
Allstate P&C$6,468.92$6,468.920.00%
GEICO General$3,626.75$3,758.873.64%
NICOA$4,848.98$4,848.980.00%
Progressive Direct$4,970.26$4,970.260.00%
State Farm Mutual Auto$3,931.51$4,216.587.25%
USAA CIC$2,533.45$2,627.433.71%

Some companies in the Washington D.C. area do increase their rates for longer commute times. However, as you can see, overall the rate increase is fairly low. In fact, only half of the companies listed increase their rates at all.

The remaining half only increase their rates by between 3 and 7 percent. This is good news if you commute into Washington D.C.

Coverage Level Rates by Companies

Are you a driver who needs a high amount of insurance coverage? Perhaps you only need a medium amount of coverage. Your lifestyle and driving choices are factors you must consider when determining the appropriate level of coverage for you.

You’ll need to compare these and other factors to the risks you face and what you can afford to determine which level of coverage provides you the most security at an affordable rate.

You already know car insurance coverage in the District of Columbia is expensive. But what do different levels of coverage look like? Typically, the greater the amount of coverage you have, the more you’ll pay. Take a look at the table below to see just how much you can expect to pay for different levels of coverage in the nation’s capital.

Insurance CompanyLow CoverageMedium CoverageHigh Coverage
USAA$2,471.15$2,579.30$2,690.86
GEICO$3,543.02$3,694.22$3,841.20
State Farm$3,801.27$4,095.14$4,325.73
Progressive$4,718.03$4,982.78$5,209.97
Nationwide$4,722.70$4,918.92$4,905.33
Allstate$6,196.55$6,449.83$6,760.39

The different levels of coverage for companies in Washington D.C. do increase as the level of coverage increases. However, these increases are relatively minor. The highest increase between low and medium coverage is State Farm at about 8 percent, while the lowest increase is Allstate at 4 percent.

From medium to high, the highest increase is about 6 percent, also from State Farm, while Nationwide actually decreases their rates slightly (about 0.3 percent).

Credit History Rates by Companies

Do you have good credit? Poor credit? It’s important to know what your credit score is for something other than getting a loan or credit card.

Many car insurance companies consider credit score when adjusting your rates. The assumption is that if you are responsible and pay your bills on time (thereby having a good credit score), you’ll also be responsible when behind the wheel.

According to Experian, the average credit score in Washington D.C. is 670. This is just high enough to be considered a good credit score, which means if you are at or above this credit score, your insurance company may reward your responsible behavior by offering you a lower premium rate that someone with a lower credit score.

Take a look at this table to see how your credit score can affect your insurance rates in Washington D.C.

Insurance CompanyGood CreditFair CreditPoor Credit
USAA$1,709.33$2,164.52$3,867.47
GEICO$2,017.71$3,001.96$6,058.76
State Farm$2,847.98$3,595.91$5,778.24
Nationwide$3,959.80$4,319.64$6,267.51
Progressive$4,357.13$4,772.75$5,780.90
Allstate$5,575.84$6,163.24$7,667.69

As the table shows, your credit score can have a significant effect on your insurance rates.

An example is Geico, whose rates increase by almost 50 percent if your credit score is fair rather than good, and by an additional 102 percent if your credit score is poor rather than fair.

If your credit score is fair or low, rather than good, Progressive may be a good option for you, because they have the lowest increases between fair and good and poor and fair, at 10 percent and 21 percent respectively.

Another way to look at this data is:

  • Good credit (670+) = average annual premiums: $3,411.30
  • Fair credit (580-669) = 9 – 49 percent increase: $4,003
  • Poor credit (300-579) = 21 – 102 percent increase: $5,903.43

Driving Record Rates by Companies

Do you have a poor record on the road? Have you seen those flashing lights behind you a few too many times? As you might expect, your driving record affects your insurance rates.

The more violations you have on your record, the higher you can expect your car insurance rates to be.

This is because when you have violations on your record, insurance companies see this as a sign that you are more likely to file a claim or have a claim filed against you. Ultimately, this means you are a riskier customer for them. They charge you more so they can accept the risk.

The table below provides average rates for drivers in Washington D.C. with clean driving records and compares that to those with one speeding violation, with one DUI, and with one-car accident.

Insurance GroupClean RecordWith 1 Speeding ViolationWith 1 DUIWith 1 Car Accident
USAA$1,969.44$2,212.93$3,629.33$2,510.06
GEICO$2,255.62$2,813.29$5,869.52$3,832.82
State Farm$3,703.83$4,074.05$4,074.05$4,444.25
Nationwide$3,904.62$4,273.26$6,235.08$4,982.97
Progressive$4,332.07$5,091.60$4,978.67$5,478.69
Allstate$5,526.28$6,499.40$7,225.63$6,624.38

You can see by looking at the above table that your driving record definitely affects your insurance rates.

To analyze this data, however, you need to understand the percent increase for each offense. We’ve calculated the percent changes for the data in the above table and included it below.

Insurance GroupPercent Increase - With 1 Speeding ViolationPercent Increase - With 1 DUIPercent Increase - With 1 Car Accident
Allstate17.61%30.75%19.87%
GEICO24.72%160.22%69.92%
Nationwide9.44%59.68%27.62%
Progressive17.53%14.93%26.47%
State Farm10.00%10.00%19.99%
USAA12.36%84.28%27.45%

If you’ve recently been found guilty of speeding, Nationwide may be a good option for you, as they have the lowest percent increase for a single speeding ticket at about 9 percent. Allstate is a good option if you’ve been in a car accident. At about 20 percent, they have the lowest increase for that.

Insurance companies address DUIs in different ways. Most penalize you for a DUI by dramatically increasing your insurance rates. For example, USAA increases rates by 84 percent for a DUI, versus 12 percent for a speeding ticket. The exceptions to this are State Farm and Progressive.

State Farm’s rate increase for a DUI is equal to its rate increase for speeding, at 10 percent. Progressive actually has a lower rate increase for a DUI than they do for speeding.

If you’re insured by Progressive and are ticketed for speeding, you’ll see about an 18 percent increase in your insurance rates. However, if you’re found guilty of DUI, Progressive will increase your rates by only 15 percent.

Largest Car Insurance Companies in Washington D.C.

Company size can also be a factor when you are shopping for insurance policies.

Combined with other data we’ve already looked at such as loss ratio and complaint data, you can use this information to help you determine which companies are the most stable and the most likely to both be able to pay out on claims and take a fair and balanced approach to doing so, should you ever need to file one.

This table compares the market share and direct premiums written for the largest insurance companies in Washington D.C.

Insurance CompanyDirect Premiums WrittenLoss RatioMarket Share
GEICO$125,82966.84%36.22%
State Farm Group$72,05087.55%20.74%
USAA Group$31,47782.44%9.06%
Progressive Group$29,45556.49%8.48%
Allstate Insurance Group$23,39248.74%6.73%
Travelers Group$12,01050.52%3.46%
Liberty Mutual Group$11,87647.80%3.42%
Nationwide Corp Group$11,73852.63%3.38%
Erie Insurance Group$8,35875.75%2.41%
Hartford Fire & Casualty Group$5,08654.10%1.46%

Number of Insurers by State

When you start shopping around for insurance in Washington D.C., you have a number of options. Those options fall into two categories: foreign and domestic.

Foreign insurers are typically incorporated somewhere besides Washington D.C., while domestic insurers are those that are incorporated within the borders of the nation’s capital. In total, there are 796 insurers in the district, six of which are domestic, while the remaining 790 are foreign.

All insurers, whether they are domestic or foreign, must follow all the insurance laws in Washington D.C., to operate legally in the area.

Washington D.C. Laws

So far we’ve discussed price, market share, financial stability of insurance companies, and more, but there’s still more information you need to make that all-important insurance policy decision.

The legal aspects of car insurance coverage are key in ensuring you’re able to make an informed decision. There are laws of which you need to be aware both from the perspective of you as a driver and those laws insurance companies must follow.

Knowing the rules of the road keeps you safe and helps you to keep your insurance premiums low (you already know if you have a poor driving record, it will affect the premiums you pay). It also helps to ensure that you don’t have to pay unexpected fees and fines and keeps your driver’s license in good standing.

Being familiar with the laws that insurance companies are subject to will help you know which questions to ask and how to be your own advocate both when you’re shopping for insurance and once you’ve bought your policy.

We know legalese can be frustrating and intimidating. Slogging through pages of text on laws probably isn’t something you have time for or want to spend time doing. That’s why we’ve done it for you.

The next several sections look at insurance laws and rules of the road so you have everything you need to know to stay safe on the road, register your vehicle in the District of Columbia, and buy the best insurance coverage for your needs.

Car Insurance Laws

At this point, the only law we’ve discussed is the minimum liability insurance requirement. You know that in the District of Columbia. you must maintain specific levels of minimum coverage to drive legally on the road.

However, there are a number of other laws and law-related information of which you should be aware. These include fraud, how it is defined, and how to report it, as well as how to buy insurance if you are considered high-risk.

Other laws you should be familiar with include those your insurance company must follow if you experience specific kinds of damage as a result of an accident (what they must cover).

Take a few minutes to read through the next few sections to find out more about these and other key laws you need to know.

Windshield Coverage

When driving on the highway, have you ever heard that dreaded sound that means a rock or some other piece of road debris hit your windshield?

When you see that chip or spiderweb crack in your windshield, what do you do? In general, you can’t just point to a specific vehicle and with confidence state that the crack in your windshield was that driver’s fault.

Every state has different laws regarding how insurance companies must handle the chipped and cracked windshields of their insureds. Some don’t have specific laws that require insurance companies to respond in a particular manner when car owners need windshield repair or replacement.

Washington D.C. is one of the locations in the United States that does NOT have specific insurance laws that define how an insurance company must respond in this situation. This means that it’s up to the insurance company.

Most will offer windshield coverage as part of a full/comprehensive insurance coverage policy. However, how the company chooses to handle replacement/repair (original manufacturer vs. aftermarket parts and insured or insurer choosing the repair company) is up to the individual insurance companies.

High-Risk Insurance

You already know what a poor driving record can do to the cost of your insurance policy.

However, if your record is poor enough that you are considered a high-risk driver, you may not even be able to get insurance coverage because insurance companies will see you as too risky to cover. Since you need insurance coverage to drive in Washington D.C., this is a problem.

To help you out, Washington D.C. has had a program in place since 1982 called the District of Columbia Automobile Insurance Plan to help you get insurance if you’ve been unable to do so through traditional means. 

This program is considered a last resort, but if you qualify, you’ll have insurance coverage for a guaranteed three years, at which point you can reevaluate and determine if you still need DC AIP assistance or if your driving record has improved enough that you can get insurance through the typical application process.

The DC AIP is not an insurance company. Instead, it is an organization that matches high-risk drivers with insurers in the area. All insurers in the nation’s capital must participate in this program.

The amount of drivers companies must insure through the DC AIP is determined by their market share. This means that USAA, for example, which has 9 percent of the market share in the District of Columbia, must sell insurance policies to 9 percent of the drivers who apply and qualify for DC AIP assistance.

How do you apply for insurance through DC AIP? You must be able to do the following:

  • Certify that you have been unable to get car insurance through traditional means in the previous 60 days or that the quote for the insurance premiums you received is higher than the cost you would have to pay under DC AIP.
  • Have a valid driver’s license.
  • Have a vehicle that is registered in good standing in Washington D.C.
  • Complete your application fully and accurately.

When you are ready, you can complete your application by working with a licensed car insurance agent in the district. They can help you fill out and submit your DC AIP application.

With DC AIP, you’ll be able to buy the same kind of coverage you could if you got an insurance policy through typical means. However, you should expect your costs under DC AIP will be quite a bit higher. This includes costs associated with minimum liability coverage (as well as the amount of liability coverage you’ll have to buy).

Take a look at this table to see the minimum liability coverage requirements for high-risk drivers versus average, non-high-risk drivers.

Required InsuranceD.C. Minimum LimitD.C. AIP Minimum Limit
Bodily Injury$25,000 per person
$50,000 per accident
$100,000 per person
$300,000 per accident
Property Damage Liability$10,000$100,000 per accident
Uninsured Motorist Bodily Injury$25,000 per person
$50,000 per accident
$100,000 per person
$300,000 per accident
Uninsured Motorist Property Damage$5,000 per accident

$25,000 per accident

Based on the data in the above table, we calculate that as a high-risk driver in Washington D.C. you’ll have to buy minimum liability coverage that is between 300 and 900 percent higher than the minimum liability coverage requirements for average drivers.

If you want additional coverage (and can afford to pay for it under DC AIP), you can also buy core coverage, additional liability coverage, and more. Similar to the minimum liability coverage, the amount you must buy and the cost of the policy will both be higher if you are high-risk and must do so through DC AIP.

If you have questions or would like to learn more about the DC AIP, you can contact the Washington D.C. Department of Insurance, Securities and Banking by calling 202-727-8000. You can also visit the DC AIP website.

Low-Cost Insurance

While Washington D.C. helps high-risk drivers get insurance coverage through the DC AIP, they do not have a similar program in place for low-income drivers in the area.

However, this is a trend that may grow in the future. Three states (California, Hawaii, and New Jersey) offer government-funded assistance programs to help their low-income residents buy and maintain car insurance policies.

Automobile Insurance Fraud in Washington D.C.

Insurance fraud is a big problem across the United States. The Insurance Information Institute (III) reports that nearly 10 percent of all losses insurance companies absorb are the result of insurance fraud. This is not a victimless crime, and the result of this widespread insurance fraud is an additional cost to you as the insured.

What is insurance fraud? According to the Washington D.C. Department of Insurance, Securities and Banking (DISB):

“Insurance fraud occurs when an insurance company, agent, adjuster or consumer commits a deliberate deception in order to obtain an illegitimate gain. It can occur during the process of buying, using, selling or underwriting insurance.”

You can file a complaint regarding suspected fraud online by calling 202-727-8000 or in person at the District of Columbia Department of Insurance, Securities and Banking, 1050 First St. NE, Suite 801, Washington, DC 20002.

If at any point you are unsure about the legitimacy of a company you are considering purchasing an insurance policy from, you should stop before you sign paperwork or spend any money.

You should immediately call the DISB at 202-727-8000 or check their website to make sure the company you are working with is both legitimate and licensed in the nation’s capital.

Statute of Limitations

If you are in a car accident and believe you need to file a claim for the resulting damages, the statute of limitations in Washington D.C. is three years for both personal injury and property damage. This three-year timeframe starts on the date of your car accident.

Washington D.C. Specific Laws

Many laws in the District of Columbia are standard across the U.S. with some minor variations. The minimum liability coverage requirement is one example of this.

Nearly every state in the country requires some amount of minimum liability insurance coverage for residents to be able to drive on the road. It varies in the exact requirements and specifics, like the uninsured motorist coverage requirement in D.C.

However, most states in the country have certain laws specific to that area only, and Washington D.C. is no exception. For example, in the nation’s capital, you can receive a parking ticket if your car is not fully in your driveway. It is also illegal to stand in the road to try and get a car to stop so you can ask for a ride.

Vehicle Licensing Laws

To drive legally in Washington D.C. you must meet other requirements beyond having the minimum insurance coverage. One of these requirements is related to your vehicle registration. Driving an unregistered vehicle in the nation’s capital is illegal.

If you are caught doing so, your license may be suspended and you must pay fees for reinstatement of both your license and your registration.

In addition, all residents of Washington D.C.  must register their vehicles with the District of Columbia. The only exception to this is when your vehicle includes a reciprocity sticker, which you can only get through the DC Department of Motor Vehicles (DC DMV).

If you don’t qualify for a reciprocity sticker, you must register your vehicle at the DC DMV within 30 calendar days of moving to a district address (you must also get a district driver’s license).

When you are ready to register a vehicle in the District of Columbia, you must first ensure that you have paid any outstanding tickets, delinquent child support payments, and other debts you may owe to the district’s government.

You must register your vehicle in person at the DC DMV. As a part of this process, you’ll need to bring the following documents (which must be originals, not copies) with you:

  • Proof of District of Columbia residency
  • Proof of vehicle inspection
  • Proof of title
  • Bille of sale
  • Proof of odometer reading
  • Lien contract or lease agreement, if applicable
  • Proof of identity (i.e. valid district driver’s license, permit, etc.)
  • Proof of vehicle insurance

To confirm all the documentation you need for your specific case, you can use the DISB’s online document verification guide, which will walk you through all the steps to ensure that you have what you need before you visit the DMV.

If you need to renew a vehicle registration, the DC DMV will send you a notification either by U.S. mail or email regarding your renewal 60 days before the expiration of your current registration.

You can renew your vehicle online or through the mail. Your registration will be valid for either one or two years (the choice is yours) before you’ll need to renew again.

If at any point your registration and inspection expire, you can get a one-time five-day temporary registration from the DC DMV. This will provide a brief grace period to get your vehicle inspected and renew your registration.

In Washington D.C. you can also keep an electronic registration sticker and card on your smartphone. This can be used at traffic stops and is accepted by law enforcement, should you be asked to provide proof of registration.

REAL ID

The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) reports that Washington D.C. is compliant with the REAL ID Act of 2005.

What is the REAL ID Act?

It is a law that was enacted in the wake of the 9/11 tragedies to reduce the chances of something like that ever again taking place. Essentially it requires people to prove that they are who they say they are.

Ultimately it means that anyone who wishes to fly commercially using a driver’s license or ID card as the form of identification must be REAL ID-compliant.

This will be enforced starting in October 2020. In addition to flying, anyone who needs access to certain government facilities (such as military installations) and nuclear power plants will be required to have a REAL ID-compliant form of identification.

While this law has been somewhat controversial and has taken some time to come to fruition (it was enacted in 2005, and it will have taken 15 years to fully enforce by the time October 2020 rolls around), 47 states are compliant, with the remaining three either under review or having an extension.

If you’re ready to get your REAL ID-compliant driver’s license, you’ll need to visit the DC DMV in person. Be prepared to give your current license to the DC DMV as a part of the process of getting a REAL ID-compliant driver’s license. When you visit the DC DMV you’ll need to bring the following documents:

You’ll also need to print out and complete the driver’s license/identification card application form. You’ll present this form to the DC DMV when you visit. While you are at the DC DMV you’ll also need to pass a vision screening test and pass a knowledge test. Finally, you must pay a fee, the amount of which varies depending on your specific situation.

Once you have a REAL ID-complaint driver’s license, your license will have a star in the upper right-hand corner, indicating that you’re in compliance with the act.

Penalties for Driving Without Insurance

If you’re caught driving without insurance, you can face serious consequences in Washington D.C. In addition, even if you have insurance but can’t provide an acceptable form of proof, you can expect repercussions. Electronic proof of insurance is not acceptable in the district.

Washington D.C. separates driving without insurance into two categories: owning an uninsured vehicle and operating an uninsured vehicle. If you’re without insurance when driving in the nation’s capital, the following table outlines what you can expect if you’re caught.

 First Offense for Owning an Uninsured VehicleFurther Offenses For Owning an Uninsured VehicleFirst Offense for Operating an Uninsured vehicleFurther Offenses for Operating an Uninsured Vehicle
Civil Fine$150 plus $7 for every day after the first 30 after the notice is received; can be up to $2500$50050% increase for each additional offense
License Suspension30 days60 days30 days60 days
Fine$30 for failure/refusal to present insurance when asked by law enforcement$30 for failure/refusal to present insurance when asked by law enforcement$30 for failure/refusal to present insurance when asked by law enforcement$30 for failure/refusal to present insurance when asked by law enforcement
Reinstatement Fee$98$98$98$98

Teen Driver Laws

When you’re ready to start learning to drive in the District of Columbia, you have to be at least 16 to apply for your learner’s permit. Formal driver’s education is not required in the nation’s capital, but the DC DMV offers a course if you’re interested.

You’ll have to hold this permit for at least six months, during which time you’ll need to log 40 hours of driving time. While you hold your learner’s permit, you can’t drive between the hours of 9 p.m. and 6 a.m. Before you can get your provisional license, you must pass a road skills test and be at least 16.5 years old.

You’ll then graduate to the intermediate stage in which you’ll need to log an additional 10 hours of nighttime driving. You’ll need to hold this provisional license for at least six months or until you turn 21, whichever comes first. However, you’ll need to be at least 18 years old to get your full, unrestricted license.

While you hold your provisional license, you can’t drive with any passengers, and you’ll have restrictions for when you can drive unsupervised.

  • From September through June, you can’t drive unsupervised between the hours of 11 p.m. and 6 a.m. from  Sunday through Thursday
  • From September through June, you can’t drive unsupervised between the hours of 12:01 a.m. and 6 a.m. on Saturday and Sunday
  • From July through August, you can’t drive between the hours of 12:01 a.m. and 6 a.m.

Older Driver License Renewal Procedures

Washington D.C. is one of many places in the United States that has different renewal laws for the general population versus the older population of drivers.

Both the general population and the older population renew their license every eight years and are required to provide proof of adequate vision every time they renew their license.

However, while the general population of the District of Columbia drivers is permitted to alternate renewing online and through the mail with in-person visits to the DC DMV, drivers 70 and older are not permitted to do this. They are required to renew their licenses in person every time.

New Residents

If you’ve recently moved to Washington D.C., you must get a driver’s license within the first 30 days of establishing residency, unless you qualify for reciprocity.

This is also key because you must register your vehicles within 30 days of moving to the District of Columbia, and you must have your district driver’s license before you can register your vehicle.

You can use the Washington D.C. Department of Motor VehiclesDocument Verification Guide to find out what documents you must bring when you visit a DC DMV location to get your District of Columbia driver’s license.

To qualify for reciprocity, you’ll need to apply through the DC DMV. However, if you are not one of the following, you likely will not be eligible for reciprocity:

  • Student
  • Diplomat
  • Active military member
  • Part-time resident
  • Member of Congress
  • Presidential appointee

License renewal procedures

If you have a Washington D.C. driver’s license, the expiration date will always be on your birthday. You’ll need to renew your license every eight years.

You’ll be notified that your license will be expiring 60 days before the expiration date. Depending on the information you have provided to the DC DMV, you may receive that notification through the mail, email, or a text message.

At every other renewal, you can renew either online or by mail. On the opposite renewal dates, you’ll need to do so in-person at a DC DMV location.

You’ll need to take and pass a knowledge test if your license has been expired for at least a year. If your license has been expired for more than a year and a half, you’ll need to take and pass both a knowledge test and a road skills test.

At every renewal, you’ll have to either pass a vision test or provide proof that you have adequate vision. If you’re renewing online, you’ll also need to certify that your medical status has not changed since your last renewal.

Negligent Operator Treatment System (NOTS)

To decrease reckless driving, many states have a points-based program that affects your driving eligibility. Typically, if you are found guilty of a moving violation or receive a traffic ticket, some number of points (the exact number is related to the severity of the offense) will be added to your driver’s license.

Your license and driving privileges will be suspended if you accumulate a set number of points (typically somewhere between 10 and 15) within a defined time frame (often a year).

On top of the license suspension, you may also be required to pay a fine. In California, this program is known as the Negligent Operator Treatment System (NOTS).

In general, only moving violations result in points being added to your license. But what is a moving violation, and what is a non-moving violation?

  • Moving violation – occurs when you violate a traffic law while your vehicle is in motion. These include speeding, running a red light, driving under the influence and more.
  • Non-moving violation – any violation (when your vehicle is stationary or in motion) that is not reported to your licensing department, Department of Motor Vehicles, or insurance company. These include distracted driving and driving without a seat belt.

In Washington D.C., the Driver Points System was put in place to curb reckless driving. If you incur too many points (10 or 11 in the District of Columbia), your license will be suspended and your driving privileges revoked for 90 days.

If you incur 12 points or more, your license will be revoked and all driving privileges will be removed until the DMV agrees to reinstate your driver’s license (which will be at least six months post-revocation).

This table outlines some of the violations that can add points to your license and how many points you may get if you are caught doing any of these.

Moving ViolationPoints
Follow another vehicle too closely2
Operate a vehicle with an improper class of license2
Operate a vehicle with a license expired less than 90 days2
Fail to comply with seatbelt law3
Commit violations that contribute to an accident3
Commit a misdemeanor crime involving a motor vehicle3
Speed 11-15 MPH above speed limit3
Speed 16-20 MPH above the speed limit4
Fail to stop for school vehicle with alternately flashing lights4
Operate a motor vehicle in violation of a restriction on your license4
Operate a vehicle with a learner's permit unaccompanied by a licensed driver5
Speed 21 MPH or more above speed limit5
Fail to yield to an emergency vehicle6
Reckless driving6
Hit and run when no personal injury occurs8
Turn off headlights to avoid ID by law enforcement8

Take a look at the table below to see some of the moving violations that will result in an automatic license suspension.

Moving ViolationPoints
Hit and run in which personal injury occurs12
Flee/attempt to elude law enforcement12
Aggravated reckless driving12
Operate a vehicle after driver's license has been suspended/revoked12
Use someone else's driver's license12
Be convicted of assault or homicide using motor vehicle12
Operate a vehicle while under the influence12
Operate a vehicle with any measurable amount of alcohol when under 2112
Commit felony crime involving use of a motor vehicle12

Rules of the Road

As we’ve already noted, there are a number of laws that apply to you (rather than to insurance companies) that you should be aware of.

They are in place to keep you and other drivers safe while on the road. Being familiar with these laws and following them will also help keep the points on your driver’s license to a minimum and your insurance rates low.

To help you out, we’ve pulled together key information on a number of rules of the road in Washington D.C. in the next few sections. We’ll be looking at information on post speed limits, seat belt and car seat laws, and more.

Keep reading to find out more about the rules of the road you need to be following. We’ve also included some information on more insurance laws that are relevant to you. This includes insurance requirements for ridesharing services, autonomous vehicles, and more.

Fault vs. No-Fault

As we noted earlier, Washington D.C. maintains a no-fault insurance system. This means that fault does not need to be determined for your insurance company to compensate you for damages.

However, unlike states with a fault system, this means each driver’s insurance company covers their customer’s damages, rather than the at-fault driver’s insurance company providing compensation. The result is that there are limitations on the kind and amount of monetary compensation you can receive from your insurance company.

Pain and suffering compensation will not be paid through your insurance company. Additionally, it’s difficult to establish the basis for a pain and suffering payout, and requires the victim to prove the following:

  • Significant permanent scarring/disfigurement
  • Permanent disablement that seriously affects the person’s ability to conduct daily tasks or work
  • Permanent disablement that seriously affects the person’s ability to conduct daily tasks or work for more than six months

Seat belt and car seat laws

To keep you and your passengers safe when you’re behind the vehicle, there are specific seat belt usage laws that everyone must follow. This is typical throughout the United States, and Washington D.C. follows suit in this.

Not following the seat belt laws in the District of Columbia is considered a primary offense, which means law enforcement can specifically pull you over and ticket you for improper seat belt usage. You can also expect to pay a minimum $50 fine for adult violation of seat belt laws, and a minimum $75 fine for violation of child safety seat laws.

The District of Columbia is one of the few areas that include seat belt laws in the list of violations that result in points on your driver’s license.

If you have a child in your vehicle, anyone under the age of 2 must be secured in a rear-facing child restraint, unless he or she weighs more than 40 pounds and is at least 40 inches tall.

At 3 or younger, all children must be in an appropriate child restraint. Any child between the ages of 4-7 must be secured in either a child restraint or a booster seat.

At age 8, a child can start using an adult seat belt.

All riding in the back of a truck bed is prohibited unless you are an on-duty employee.

Keep Right and Move Over Laws

When you are driving on the road in the District of Columbia, you need to know when and where you are expected to slow down and move over.

If you come across an emergency vehicle that is not moving and has sirens or lights on, you must move out of the lane closest to the vehicle if you can do so safely. If it’s not safe to do so, you must drive cautiously and at a speed appropriate for the road conditions until you have passed the emergency vehicle.

Speed Limits

You must follow posted speed limits at all times when on the road. If you drive above the posted speed limit, you may be ticketed and you can also get points on your driver’s license (the number of points depends on how fast you were driving). Speeding violations may also result in higher insurance premiums (as you saw earlier).

Following the posted speed limits is about more than keeping your insurance premiums low, however. You must follow the posted speed limits to keep you, your passengers, and other drivers safe when on the road.

In Washington D.C., the maximum posted speed limit (i.e. the fastest you can legally drive anywhere within the district boundaries) is 55 miles per hour. However, that does not mean you can always drive 55 mph. You can only do so if that is the posted speed limit on the stretch of road you are driving.

The speed limit for any other roads within Washington D.C. is 25 mph unless a different speed is posted. If you are in a school zone or an alley, the maximum speed limit is 15 mph.

Ridesharing

Transportation network companies (TNCs) are widely available in Washington D.C. There are a number of laws in place to keep you safe both as a customer of a TNC and as a driver sharing the road with TNCs.

The nation’s capital requires vehicles to be 2006/2007 models or newer. Vehicles must pass inspection, and drivers must pass both a DC DMV and background check. Drivers must have a valid driver’s license and be at least 21 years old.

Minimum liability coverage insurance is required in the amount of at least $50,000 per person, $100,000 per accident, and $25,000 for property damage.

Allstate, Geico, and Liberty Mutual all provide insurance for TNCs in Washington D.C.

Automation on the Road

Autonomous vehicles are becoming more and more popular as companies test and improve the technology. Many states are finding that to ensure that their residents are safe on the road, they need to enact laws specifically governing how and when autonomous vehicle companies can test their vehicles, as well as what kind of insurance they must carry.

In Washington D.C., autonomous vehicles can be deployed, but are required to have a licensed operator inside at all times. However, the nation’s capital does not have specific requirements for insurance coverage on autonomous vehicles.

The District of Columbia is working toward putting a permit process in place for any testing of autonomous vehicles. D.C. is also conducting research into the implications of autonomous vehicles, including the possible effects (both positive and negative) on urban planning, parking, and more.

This and other research is being conducted under an Autonomous Vehicle Working Group that was established in February 2018.

Safety Laws

In addition to laws regarding the speed at which you can drive your vehicle, the appropriate manner in which to wear your seat belt, and the laws regarding TNCs and driverless cars, Washington D.C. has several other laws in place that are focused on keeping you and other drivers safe on the road.

One such safety law is related to your ability to see clearly on the road. The District of Columbia has specific requirements for how much window tinting is permissible for vehicles in the area.

The purpose of these laws is to keep you safe by ensuring you have the necessary visibility to maintain situational awareness (in addition to ensuring law enforcement is able to see you).

For sedans:

  • Windshield: non-reflective tint can be placed on the top five inches.
  • Front windows: a minimum of 71 percent of outside lighting must filter into the vehicle.
  • Backside windows: a minimum of 51 percent of outside lighting must filter into the vehicle.
  • Rear window: a minimum of 51 percent of outside lighting must filter into the vehicle.

For SUVs and vans:

  • Windshield: non-reflective tint can be placed on the top five inches.
  • Front side windows: a minimum of 71 percent of outside lighting must filter into the vehicle.
  • Backside windows: a minimum of 36 percent of outside lighting must filter into the vehicle.
  • Rear window: a minimum of 36 percent of outside lighting must filter into the vehicle.

Unlike many states, there are no legal restrictions on tint colors in Washington D.C. In addition, there is no requirement for tint stickers or certificates to be placed on your vehicle.

Read on through the next few sections to find out more information on driving under the influence and distracted driving in Washington D.C. and what you may face if you are caught doing either one.

DUI Laws

Have a few drinks while at dinner with friends? Decide to hit the bars and have some fun? If so, don’t get behind the wheel. You should never drink and drive. The potential consequences of doing so are serious and life-changing, not to mention that your insurance rates will likely skyrocket.

If you choose to drive under the influence, you are willfully choosing to put yourself and anyone else on the road near you in danger.

Not only can this choice result in injury and even death, but you’ll also face fines, jail time, an automatic suspension of your driver’s license and more if you are caught. In Washington D.C., if you are convicted of DUI, the offense will be on your record for a minimum of 15 years.

The blood alcohol level (BAC) in Washington D.C. is 0.08, and the high BAC (HBAC) in three graduated levels of severity is 0.2–0.25, 0.25–0.3, and 0.3+.

According to responsibility.org, 16 alcohol-impaired driving fatalities occurred in the district in 2017. Looked at another way, there were 2.3 alcohol-impaired driving fatalities per 100,000 population in Washington D.C., compared to 3.4 per 100,000 population in the U.S.

The consequences of drinking and driving in Washington D.C. are extensive and long-lasting. The table below outlines what you can expect if you are convicted of DUI.

 1st DUI2nd DUI3rd DUI
Fineup to $300$1000-$5000$2000-$10000
Jail TimeNo minimum, but up to 90 days. if BAC .20-.25: mandatory 5 days. If BAC .25+: mandatory 10 daysup to 1 year with 5 mandatory days or 30 days community service. If BAC .20-.25: mandatory 10 days. If BAC .25+: mandatory 20 daysup to 1 year with 5 mandatory days or 30 days community service. If BAC .20-.25: mandatory 15 days. If BAC .25+: mandatory 25 days
License Revoked6 months1 year2 years
OtherAlcohol Diversion Program possible if BAC <.16

Not only is driving under the influence illegal, but it is also dangerous. The potential consequences are not worth the risk. Don’t drink and drive. If you’re planning to have a few drinks, be prepared and either select a designated driver or make use of the numerous forms of alternative transportation available at your fingertips.

Marijuana-Impaired Driving Laws

Marijuana is fully decriminalized and legal in Washington D.C. However, the nation’s capital has not enacted any marijuana-specific driving laws, according to responsibility.org. Even so, if a law enforcement officer can prove a driver was impaired while operating a motor vehicle, the driver may be prosecuted for driving while impaired.

Distracted Driving Laws

We’ve all seen the billboards and heard the statistics. Texting and driving and distracted driving are dangerous and usually illegal. And yet many still use their cell phones while driving.

In Washington D.C., texting and driving is illegal but is only considered a secondary offense. This means if law enforcement pulls a driver over for a different offense, he or she can also be ticked for texting and driving, but law enforcement cannot pull a driver over specifically for texting and driving.

Hands-free cellphone use is permitted in the district, but hand-held use is not except in an emergency, when ending a phone call, or when turning your phone on/off.

All cellphone use is prohibited for drivers with a learner’s permit. In addition, if any driver is in an active school zone, school crossing, or work zone, all cellphone use is prohibited.

Driving Safely in Washington D.C.

No matter how safely and defensively you drive or how carefully you follow the rules of the road, you can’t protect yourself from everything.

Tragedies still happen; accidents still take place. You simply can’t control every factor or possible eventuality on the road. In some cases, tragedies and accidents are caused by the carelessness of other drivers, but in others, they are the result of things such as weather or road conditions.

Knowing when and where these accidents are most likely to occur in Washington D.C. can help you be better prepared for whatever you may face while on the road in the nation’s capital.

In the following sections, we’ve included data on road fatalities, road fatality types and statistics, crime rates by area, and more. Take a look to learn more about what you need to look out for in the district.

Vehicle Theft in Washington D.C.

Getting your vehicle stolen is a concern on every driver’s mind. There is little you can do to stop someone from stealing your car.

However, there are common-sense things you can do, such as locking your doors and not leaving anything valuable in your vehicle, to reduce the chances of this happening to you. Another key piece of information is knowing which vehicles are most likely to be stolen and where.

In Washington D.C., the vehicle most often stolen is a Dodge Caravan. In the table below, we’ve included the top 10 most commonly stolen vehicles in the nation’s capital, so you can see if yours is on the list.

RankMake/ModelYear of VehicleThefts
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

To be better prepared in case your vehicle is stolen, you can speak to your insurance provider about what options may be at your disposal. This includes what (if any) additional coverage you can add to your policy to protect yourself financially if you lose your vehicle to theft.

When looking at the data in the above table, please note that the vehicle year listed is simply the most commonly stolen year model in Washington D.C. in 2016.

Now that you know which vehicles are most at risk for theft, you need to learn where those thefts are most likely to take place. According to the FBI, vehicle theft in Washington D.C. is significant. In 2017, 2,545 vehicles were stolen just in the nation’s capital (this data does not include the surrounding areas).

Based on this information, you may want to consider what you can do to reduce your chances of having your vehicle stolen, as well as speaking to your insurance agent about what policy options you may have.  This vehicle theft information may also be a data point for your insurance provider when they consider how to adjust your rates.

Road Fatalities in Washington D.C.

Like we mentioned in the introduction to this section, no matter how safely you drive, or how many laws are enacted to keep drivers safe on the road, some things are simply out of your control. Not everyone follows the rules of the road, and sometimes, even Mother Nature works against you, resulting in poor visibility and road conditions.

If and when other drivers make poor choices, like driving under the influence, driving while distracted, and more, accidents and tragedies can occur. When the weather unexpectedly changes and visibility decreases or the roads ice over or flood, accidents and tragedies can occur.

While there is little you can do about the weather or other drivers’ road decisions, being informed when you’re on the road and knowing when and where accidents are most likely to occur can help you to drive defensively and pay extra attention on the road when necessary. Keep reading to find out specifics on fatality and crash data in Washington D.C.

Most Fatal Highway in Washington D.C.

GeoTab provides data on the most dangerous highways in America, looking at all 50 states. However, Washington D.C. is not technically a state but is instead a district. So it’s not listed on GeoTab’s website. ‘

The website does list the most fatal highway in Maryland (from which part of Washington D.C. was originally carved) and notes that the highway connects Pennsylvania and the District of Columbia. This highway, U.S. Route 1, has about 12 vehicle fatalities per year.

Fatal Crashes by Weather Condition and Light Condition

As we’ve noted, weather can have an effect on both visibility and road conditions. Lighting can also affect visibility when you’re on the road. These factors are all beyond your (and any driver’s) control, so the best you can do is be more aware and drive with extra care when certain lighting and weather conditions are present.

In the table below, we’ve pulled data from 2017 on the number of fatal crashes in Washington D.C., compared to the weather and lighting conditions at the time of the crashes. This information can help you form a picture of what effect those factors have had on drivers in the nation’s capital.

Weather ConditionDaylightDark, but LightedDarkDawn or DuskOther / UnknownTotal
Normal52110027
Rain020002
Snow/Sleet000000
Other000000
Unknown000000
TOTAL52310029

Fatalities (All Crashes) by County

The Washington D.C. NHTSA Crash Report provides data on all vehicle-related fatalities by county (there is only one) between 2014 and 2018.

CountyFatalities 20142015201620172018Fatalities per 100,000 population 20142015201620172018
District of Columbia23242731313.473.413.934.464.41

As you can see in the data, it appears there is an upward trend in the number of fatalities, with a nearly 35 percent increase between 2014 and 2018.

Traffic Fatalities

The Washington D.C. NHTSA Crash Report provides data on all vehicle-related fatalities by area (rural versus urban) between 2014 and 2018.

Traffic Fatalities20142015201620172018
Rural00001
Urban2323263130
Total2323263131

As you might expect, nearly all the fatalities fall into the urban category, given that Washington D.C. is an urban area. In fact, throughout the five-year span, only one fatality was classified as rural.

Given the population density of Washington D.C., the results shown in this data are logical. The higher the population in a given area, the higher the likelihood that an accident will occur, simply because there are more people and thus more opportunities.

Fatalities by Person Type

The Washington D.C. NHTSA Crash Report provides data on all vehicle-related fatalities by county by vehicle occupant type between 2014 and 2018.

Person Type20142015201620172018
Passenger Car Occupant768127
Light Truck - Utility Occupant30411
Light Truck - Pickup Occupant00010
Motorcyclists33648
Pedestrians91381111
Bicyclist and Other Cyclist11123
Total Nonoccupants101491315
Other/Unknown Occupants00001
Total2323273131

Fatalities by Crash Type

The Washington D.C. NHTSA Crash Report provides data on all vehicle-related fatalities by crash type between 2014 and 2018.

Crash Type20142015201620172018
Single Vehicle1617182420
Involving a Large Truck52003
Involving Speeding127161715
Involving a Rollover41343
Involving a Roadway Departure7511137
Involving an Intersection (or Intersection Related)1010101019
Total Fatalities (All Crashes)2323273131

This data shows that fatalities involving a single vehicle and speeding are some of the highest fatality rates.

Five-Year Trend for the Top Ten Counties

The Washington D.C. NHTSA Crash Report provides data on all vehicle-related fatalities in the top counties (there is only one) between 2014 and 2018.

County20142015201620172018
District of Columbia2323273131

As we noted earlier, there is a trend toward an annual increase in fatalities across the five-year span. The average increase from year-to-year is about 8 percent, with a 17 percent increase in 2016 and a 15 percent increase in 2017.

Fatalities Involving Speeding by County

The Washington D.C. NHTSA Crash Report provides data on all speeding-involved vehicle-related fatalities by county (there is only one) between 2014 and 2018.

CountyFatalities 20142015201620172018Fatalities per 100K Population 20142015201620172018
District of Columbia1271617151.811.042.332.442.14

In keeping with the trend we’ve seen for the overall number of vehicle-related fatalities in Washington D.C., there is a trend toward an increasing number of speeding-related fatalities each year (with a significant drop in 2015, although the trend moved upward again starting in 2016).

Fatalities in Crashes Involving an Alcohol-Impaired Driver by County

The Washington D.C. NHTSA Crash Report provides data on all alcohol-involved vehicle-related fatalities by county (there is only one) between 2014 and 2018.

CountyFatalities 20142015201620172018Fatalities per 100K Population 20142015201620172018
District of Columbia57101590.751.041.462.161.28

Similar to fatalities involving speeding in Washington D.C., there is a trend toward an increasing number of alcohol-related fatalities each year (with the exception being 2018, which showed a 40 percent decrease from 2017).

Teen Drinking and Driving

Like the rest of the United States, the legal drinking age in Washington D.C. is 21. Despite this, many teens and young adults often start drinking before they are of legal age.

At this time, responsibility.org reports an average of zero underage alcohol-related driving fatalities per 100,000 population. This is great news for Washington D.C., especially compared to the national average for underage alcohol-related driving fatalities, which is 1.2 fatalities per 100,000 population.

The FBI reports that Washington D.C. is ranked 50th in the country for underage driving and driving. In 2018, there were no DUI arrests for drivers under the age of 18.

As we noted earlier, Washington D.C.’s BAC is 0.8. However, if you are under 21 and found to have ANY alcohol in your system while driving, you can be convicted of DUI. In other words, Washington D.C . is considered a zero-tolerance region with regard to underage DUI.

The penalties for underage DUI in Washington D.C. are the same as those for standard DUIs. (See the table below; we provided this information in the DUI Laws section.)

 1st DUI2nd DUI3rd DUI
Fineup to $300$1000-$5000$2000-$10000
Jail TimeNo minimum, but up to 90 days. if BAC .20-.25: mandatory 5 days. If BAC .25+: mandatory 10 daysup to 1 year with 5 mandatory days or 30 days community service. If BAC .20-.25: mandatory 10 days. If BAC .25+: mandatory 20 daysup to 1 year with 5 mandatory days or 30 days community service. If BAC .20-.25: mandatory 15 days. If BAC .25+: mandatory 25 days
License Revoked6 months1 year2 years
OtherAlcohol Diversion Program possible if BAC <.16

In addition, if you have any alcohol in your system while driving under the age of 21, you will automatically get 12 points on your driver’s license and your license will be immediately suspended.

EMS Response Time

If you are in an accident and need medical assistance, how quickly will emergency medical services (EMS) reach you? This is an important question, especially if a crash is particularly severe. You want to know help will arrive when you need it. The NHTSA Traffic Safety provides data on average EMS response times for states across the country.

Typically their EMS response time data is divided into two categories: urban and rural. As you might expect, in Washington D.C. there is no available data for rural EMS response times. However, the average urban EMS response times for the nation’s capital are in the below table.

 AVERAGE TIME OF CRASH TO EMS NOTIFICATIONAVERAGE EMS NOTIFICATION TO EMS ARRIVALAVERAGE EMS ARRIVAL AT SCENE TO HOSPITAL ARRIVALAVERAGE TIME OF CRASH TO HOSPITAL ARRIVALTOTAL FATAL CRASHES 
Urban1.74 minutes3.5 minutes30 minutes29 minutes29

Keep in mind when looking at this data that response times for emergency medical services can be affected by road conditions, weather, and the area of coverage for which each EMS response team is responsible.

Transportation in Washington D.C.

If you drive in Washington D.C., what does your commute look like? Do you spend hours in traffic each week (or worse, each day)? Knowing what to expect, and having data to support your experiences, can help you make the most efficient transportation choices, as well as the best insurance coverage policy for your needs.

Take a look at these final few sections to learn more about how many cars are typically owned per household, commute times, traffic congestion in Washington D.C., and the transportation options you can choose from if you live in the nation’s capital.

In addition, we provide the same information at a national level, so you can compare Washington D.C.’s data to that of the country as a whole.

Car Ownership

DataUSA reports that about 44 percent of Washington D.C. households (the largest percentage of households associated with a specific car ownership number) own an average of one vehicle. This is lower than the national average of two cars per household.

Twenty-five percent of district residents own no vehicles, and 22.7 percent of households in the nation’s capital own two vehicles. The remaining households own three or more vehicles. Other households in the District of Columbia have either no cars or four or more vehicles attached to each household.

Commute Time

DataUSA provides commute data for residents in the District of Columbia. The average commute time in Washington D.C. is 28.6 minutes, which is 3.1 minutes more than the national average of 25.5 minutes.

In other words, residents of the nation’s capital can expect to spend an average of 12 percent more time commuting than average residents across the country.

About 2.38 percent of Washington D.C. drivers are considered super commuters because they spend 90 or more minutes commuting each way. The national average is about 2.85 percent, which is nearly 20 percent higher than the percentage of district super commuters.

Commuter Transportation

If you’re a resident of Washington D.C., what’s the best way to make your way through the city? According to the same DataUSA report, only 34 percent of residents in the district typically drive alone for their commute.

This is about 54 percent less than the national average of 76.4 percent of residents who drive themselves to work. The next most common transportation choices are listed below:

  • About 32.7 percent of residents use public transportation to and from work, compared to the national average of 5 percent.
  • About 12.7 percent of residents walked to work, compared to the national average of less than 3 percent.

Traffic Congestion

The average commute times, transportation types, and vehicle ownership data for residents in Washington D.C. all contain great information. However, what does actual traffic congestion look like?

When you’re driving to and from work each day, how much time do you spend sitting in traffic (as opposed to the door-to-door commute time)?

Inrix provides traffic congestion information and reports that Washington D.C. is the 19th most congested city in the world. It is also the second most congested city in the United States, coming in second only to Boston, Mass.

The same Inrix report states that the average resident of Washington D.C. spent 155 hours in traffic in 2018. Additionally, the cost of congestion per driver is $2,161.

During “off-peak” times (Inrix defines this as “the low point between the peak commuting periods”), the average driving speed was just under 40 mph.

However, at peak traffic times, the average speed was 20 mph, while the best state of the roads in a 24-hour period indicated the average speed during those optimal times was about 46 mph.

It’s helpful to have the traffic congestion information for Washington D.C. so you can be prepared when you get ready to head out for the day. You’ll be able to ensure you can plan adequately, so you have enough time to make it to your chosen location.

You can also use this information to mentally prepare, so you know what to expect before you hit the road. Breathe, stay calm, and drive defensively no matter what the traffic looks like.

If you have the information we’ve compiled here, you can move forward with confidence in shopping for your insurance policy.

Having information on the rules of the road, insurance laws, factors insurance companies use when adjusting your rates, and everything else we’ve covered will ensure you’re well-informed as you do your research to determine which policy, coverage mix, and company are right for you.

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About Eric Stauffer

Author: Eric StaufferI am a former insurance agent and banker turned consumer advocate. My priority is to help educate individuals and families about the different types of insurance they need, and assist them in finding the best place to get it.

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