The West Virginia Division of Motor Vehicles (DMV) has conducted random insurance checks for decades in an effort to ensure actively registered vehicles are carrying West Virginia liability insurance as required by law. A common misconception is that a vehicle only needs to have insurance if it is on the road. However, when you obtain or renew a vehicle’s registration, you agree to keep the mandated insurance on that vehicle as long as the registration is valid, regardless of if it is being driven or not. If the insurance is dropped for any reason, the plate is supposed to be returned. Failure to return the plate or otherwise bring the registration back into compliance with the law can lead to suspension of your driving privileges. It can even lead to suspension of the vehicle’s registration, triggering DMV’s authorization to collect the license plate. ​

In the last several years, the online electronic verification system was developed per West Virginia State Code. This has allowed the number of vehicles checked every month to increase from a few hundred, to thousands. Since system onset, insurance companies no longer issue notices of cancellation to DMV. Many companies regularly submit a Book of Business, using Secure File Transfer Protocol to transmit data. This information specifies the Vehicle Identification Numbers (VINs) currently covered by the company’s corresponding National Association of Insurance Commissioner’s (NAIC) number.

Criteria for system selection for a random check is simply an active title and active plate on a non-commercial vehicle, with preference on titles not validated recently. The system will attempt confirmation first with Book of Business data if available, then a broader general inquiry to see if any company signals that VIN is covered by the required West Virginia liability insurance. Many vehicles selected for verification are validated in this step and no further action is necessary, thus no written request is sent to the owner. The system continues selecting qualified vehicles for verification until a preset number of unconfirmed vehicles is reached for a letter batch. Customers have thirty days to resolve this first letter.

The initial selection, attempted confirmation, and first letter mailing are all automated. Lack of confirmation can be due to many things: temporary lapse of coverage due to late payment or delayed payment processing; VIN mismatches caused by incorrect entry of characters that sound similar when spoken (like S and F) or look similar when written (like S and 5;) undocumented changes in ownership; West Virginia insurance that is less than the required liability; or liability insurance that is not written for the state of West Virginia are a few of the most common examples.

Sometimes a disruption within the insurance company’s servers at the time of inquiry may cause a request to be returned as unconfirmed, resulting in an increase in first letters to the customers of the affected company. However, our website administrators are in contact with companies immediately upon discovery of a large percentage of confirmation failures and actively work with companies to correct the problem quickly. Multiple subsequent revalidations throughout the process are designed to catch and resolve these issues when the rest of the insurance policy is in order. Thirty days after the first letter is sent, the electronic system attempts to revalidate the remaining unresolved vehicles. Any that still do not confirm are inquired by Insurance Unit employees for certified notices. Vehicle owners then have an additional thirty days to resolve the problem. This process allows the bulk of our inquiries to be successfully resolved rather than go to suspension.

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Contact Information:
WV Division of Motor Vehicles
Compulsory Insurance Section
5707 MacCorkle Ave. SE, PO Box 17020
Charleston, WV 25317
Phone: (304) 926-3802 or 1 (800) 642-9066