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How important is uninsured motorist coverage in Virginia?

By John Singleton on February 19, 2020

We all dread the thought that we could be in a car accident one day. We hold our breath when a big truck leans into our lane, or we see a car speeding toward us in our rearview mirror. Beyond the fear of injury, there’s the financial anxiety we all have.

We think: “What if my car is totaled? What if I have to miss work? What if my insurance rates go up?”

There are many situations surrounding a car accident that we feel unprepared to handle, but one of the biggest is “What if the other driver doesn’t have insurance?”

How much insurance do you really need?

Most people are surprised to hear that Virginia drivers can register a vehicle without getting insurance. Instead, car owners can pay a $500 fee annually to avoid getting insurance. Under Virginia law, if the driver is in an accident, they are responsible for any costs or injuries.

This technically means you could sue the other driver to cover your injuries or damage to your car, but three factors may stop you. One, if the driver doesn’t have insurance, he or she likely does not have the money to pay for your damages or medical bills. Two, the driver may be a neighbor, friend, or even a family member, and you may not want to sue someone you know. Three, if you are involved in a hit-and-run, you may not be able to locate the other driver to file a claim with their insurance company, if they even have one.

Ultimately, an accident with an uninsured driver hurts everyone involved and offers few options for legal recourse.

What does uninsured or underinsured motorist coverage do for me?

The Commonwealth of Virginia requires all auto insurance policies to include uninsured motorist (UM) and underinsured motorist coverage (UIM):

  • Uninsured Motorist: If you are in an accident with an at-fault driver who does not have insurance or you’re in a hit-and-run, your insurance company will step in to cover the incident.
  • Underinsured Motorist: If you are in an accident and the at-fault driver has a minimum coverage policy, you may still have to pay the difference if you are seriously injured, or your vehicle is heavily damaged. In this scenario, your underinsured motorist insurance coverage will kick in and cover any additional costs up to your policy’s limit.

UM and UIM coverage are equal to the minimum amount on your policy, so if you have a $25,000/$50,000/$20,000 policy, then that would be the limit of your UM coverage. You will also be required to pay the first $500 of any injuries or property damage.

You can and likely should purchase additional coverage, especially if you are on the road a lot. Keep in mind, insurance agents may say your vehicle has “full coverage” when they really mean you have the minimum coverage. It is important to review your coverage and make sure you would be properly covered if you are in a serious accident.

One service that we at GibsonSingleton offer is that anyone can set up a free appointment with us anytime to review your current auto insurance policy. We do this because we care about our neighbors, and we want them to be taken care of if they are ever in a wreck, regardless of who the other driver is and what insurance, if any, they have.

Why should I consider buying more insurance?

Having a high limit on your insurance policy can go a long way toward minimizing the costs of an accident and making sure you receive all the medical care you need if you are in a wreck.

Sadly, statistics tell us that chances are high that you will be in a wreck one day if you haven’t already been. In a recent year, Gloucester County was home to 427 vehicle collisions, 260 of which involved injuries, as reported by the Virginia Highway Safety Office. If even one of these accidents involved an uninsured driver, the aftereffect could be devastating for anyone who was seriously injured.

Remember: You cannot control the actions of negligent drivers or their choices about insurance, but you can make important financial decisions to protect yourself before a tragic event occurs.

We want to help you

If you have had the misfortune of being in a car accident and are unsure about what to do next, contact GibsonSingleton Virginia Injury Attorneys at (804) 413-6777, or toll-free (855) 781-6777. We offer free consultations and will take the time to properly review your case to ensure you get the help you deserve. We will always treat you like a neighbor, not a number.

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Prevention, empathy, and diligence are hallmarks of everything we do at GibsonSingleton Virginia Injury Attorneys. Our community can see these ideals lived out in our work to prevent personal injuries from happening.

  • Safety Education
    GibsonSingleton launches a “Texts=Wrecks” campaign to reduce the number of people injured or killed by distracted drivers.
  • Annual Coat Drive
    During the fall, our team works to distribute coats to people in need in our community.
  • Hands-on Service
    John and Ken join the Gloucester Point Rotary Club in cleaning up the community.
  • Supporting Local Schools
    The Gibson family participates in Gloucester’s Botetourt Elementary Shuffle fundraiser.