A startling number of drivers continue to drive without insurance coverage or too little coverage. While this may save them a few dollars in the short run, it can drastically impact your finances if you do not have enough coverage.
In Virginia, uninsured and underinsured motorist coverage is required on all personal automobile insurance policies. However, Virginia is one of a handful of states that does not require drivers to have automobile insurance at all. An uninsured driver may pay a $500 fee to the DMV to drive without any insurance.
What is Uninsured/Underinsured Motorist Coverage?
Uninsured motorist coverage (UIM) is insurance that will pay for your damages if you are involved in an accident with someone who does not have insurance. This type of coverage is important because it can help protect you financially if you are ever involved in an accident with an uninsured driver.
Underinsured motorist coverage (UM) is a type of insurance that will pay for your damages if you are involved in an accident with someone who has insurance, but their insurance is not enough to cover the cost of your damages. This type of coverage is important because it can help protect you financially if you are ever involved in an accident with an underinsured driver.
Is Uninsured/Underinsured Motorist Coverage Required in Virginia?
No, uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage is not required in Virginia. Virginia is one of few states that does not require its drivers to carry auto insurance. Instead, drivers can opt out of car insurance if they pay a $500 uninsured motorist fee to the Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles. This fee allows drivers to operate an uninsured vehicle, but it does not provide a motorist with any insurance coverage.
However, uninsured and underinsured motorist coverage is required on all personal automobile insurance policies and is strongly recommended. Carrying uninsured and underinsured motorist coverage is strongly recommended.
Virginia Auto Insurance Requirements
While auto insurance is not technically required in Virginia, if a driver chooses to get insurance, they must get these minimum limits:
- $30,000 in uninsured motorist bodily injury liability insurance coverage per person
- $20,000 in uninsured motorist property damage liability insurance per accident
Similar amounts of underinsured motorist coverage are also required if you choose to get auto insurance in Virginia. The minimums for underinsured motorist coverage include:
- $30,000 per person (up to $60,000 per accident) in bodily injury liability coverage
- $20,000 per accident in property damage liability coverage
Remember, these are the minimum coverage requirements for each policy. To ensure that you are fully covered in an accident involving an uninsured or underinsured motorist it is best to get as much coverage as you can afford. The more coverage you have, the less you will have to come out of pocket for your costs.
Why Should I Get Uninsured/Underinsured Motorist Coverage?
Several benefits come with having uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage.
1. Coverage For Your Damages
If you get into an accident with an uninsured or underinsured motorist and you do not have coverage under your own policy, you will most likely have to cover the expense of all damages on your own. The damages can add up startlingly fast, from medical expenses to vehicle repairs and loss of wages, not to mention any pain or suffering you experience because of the accident.
You may choose to take legal action against an uninsured/underinsured motorist if the accident was their fault, though the likelihood of that person being able to repay for your damages when they probably couldn’t afford insurance in the first place is slim.
Instead, paying for UM/UIM coverage from the get-go can provide you with the financial coverage you need and prevent you from added stress if you ever find yourself in such an expensive situation.
2. Protection For Your Passengers
Just like you, your passengers will also be left on their own to pay for any medical bills or property damage caused in an accident with an uninsured/underinsured motorist. In some situations, they may try to take on the financial burden themselves, paying for their own medical expenses out of pocket and dealing with a cut to their income while recovering.
However, passengers may take issue with the driver in some instances, asking you to pay for their injuries or other damages. Obtaining coverage for uninsured/underinsured motorists will typically cover the damages caused to anyone else in your vehicle.
3. Underinsured Coverage Can Help You In Other Accidents, Too
Underinsured motorist coverage can be used for accidents with uninsured motorists or drivers with poor insurance. There are plenty of insurance policies out there that really only provide coverage in the name. For example, some insurance policies may not cover the entire cost of damage caused by the accident, or the driver’s insurance company may have denied their claim.
So, what happens if you get into an accident with someone who made the mistake of investing in an insufficient policy? With underinsured motorist insurance, you can use your own coverage to make up the difference between the other motorist’s insurance gap and what you require.
4. Uninsured Motorist Coverage Can Help You With Hit-and-Run Accidents
If you are involved in a hit-and-run accident, your uninsured motorist coverage will kick in to help you pay for your damages. Being involved in a hit-and-run is stressful enough, but having sufficient uninsured motorist coverage can take some of the pressure off by providing financial protection.
Underinsured/Uninsured Motorist Coverage Costs
The cost of sufficient underinsured and uninsured motorist coverage will vary depending on a number of factors, such as the insurance company you choose, the amount of coverage you need, and the deductible you select. However, this type of coverage is generally very affordable and can be well worth the investment.
How to File an Uninsured/Underinsured Motorist Claim
If you are involved in an accident with an uninsured or underinsured driver, you will need to file a claim with your own insurance company. You will need to provide them with information about the accident, including any police reports and medical bills. Once your claim is filed, your insurance company will investigate and determine if you are eligible for coverage.
Contact Cantor Grana Buckner Bucci
If you have been involved in an accident with an uninsured or underinsured driver, it is important to contact a car accident lawyer. They can help you to understand your legal options and protect your rights.
Cantor Grana Buckner Bucci is a personal injury law firm serving individuals and families throughout Virginia. We often meet people at a time of uncertainty in their lives, a moment when they have suffered a life-altering catastrophic injury or wrongful death and are seeking help. At Cantor Grana Buckner Bucci, we understand that we have an opportunity to guide our clients towards a better future, and we take that responsibility seriously.