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What is Uninsured and Underinsured Coverage?

What is uninsured and/or underinsured motorist coverage? Many people have no idea what this is and most do not even know they have this coverage on their automobile insurance policy. Uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage is simply automobile insurance coverage that you carry yourself on your own automobile policy to cover you in case you are injured in a car accident and the responsible driver either has no car insurance or not enough to cover the value of your injury claim. If you have a Virginia car insurance policy, then you have this coverage.

One critical issue to check in your policy regarding uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage is the monetary amount of coverage you have. Most people just assume they have “full coverage” but do not realize that it is just as important to have enough coverage.

For example, we represented a young lady recently who was involved in a terrible car accident. She suffered a shoulder injury and had to have surgery as a result. Her medical bills exceeded $35,000. The defendant driver who hit her had only $25,000 in insurance coverage, which is the minimum a driver can have in Virginia. When we checked her own insurance coverage for uninsured/underinsured limits, she was disappointed to find out that she had the exact same limits. What that means is that in her case the only insurance coverage available to cover all of her medical bills, lost wages, inconvenience and pain and suffering was a mere $25,000. Since she did not have any more coverage than the driver who hit her, her total insurance recovery was limited to $25,000. This did not even cover all of her medical bills.

Had she had higher monetary limits on her own policy for uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage, we would have been able to collect additional money from her own policy to help with the medical bills and her other damages. For instance, the next two levels of coverage after $25,000 are $50,000 and then $100,000. For just a few extra dollars every policy period, either of those coverages would have been extremely valuable for her to help her situation.

The lesson to be learned: check the amount of your insurance coverages. Do not just assume you have “full coverage.” As you can see from the above story, it is just as vital to have enough coverage. We recommend having at least $100,000 in liability and uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage. For a very small increase in your premium, it could very well make tens of thousands of dollars of difference if you or one of your family members is injured in an accident.