Unsafe drivers are not the only ones at risk of accidents and injuries. Even the safest drivers who take all the precautions they should may still be injured in accidents caused by others behind the wheel.
No matter how good of a driver you are, you should always make sure to obtain sufficient insurance coverage to protect yourself financially in the event of an accident.
Minimum Insurance Requirements
Each state has its own laws that govern how much insurance drivers should have. In Virginia, drivers are required to only carry liability insurance in the following amounts:
$25,000 in coverage for bodily injury (per person)
$50,000 in coverage for bodily injury (per accident)
$20,000 in coverage for property damage.
It’s important to keep in mind that this minimum liability coverage will only cover those who are injured in accidents that you are considered responsible for. In other words, this coverage will not apply to your own property damage or injury expenses, potentially leaving you with out-of-pocket expenses that you cannot afford.
Virginia is unique in that drivers can avoid getting liability coverage by paying a $500 uninsured motorist fee. This fee simply allows you to drive on the roads without the risk of an uninsured motorist fine or penalty.
However, you have no insurance coverage with this option. If you are at fault for an accident, you are personally responsible to cover any damages that you cause.
Obtaining the Right Coverage
You should make sure you obtain coverage that is suited for your own situation. Most of this time, this means adding more coverage than just your state’s minimum requirements.
There are three types of coverage that you should probably consider adding on to your car insurance plan:
Collision coverage. This pays for your own vehicle damages that you personally incur if you cause an accident.
Medical expenses coverage. This will pay for your medical expenses, such as ER visits or rehabilitation, that you incur in an accident you cause.
Uninsured/underinsured motorist (UM/UIM) coverage. This pays for damages if you are hit by an uninsured driver or a driver whose coverage is not enough for your entire damages.
As we stated, everyone’s situation is different. But you should have enough coverage to act as a financial safety net so that you are not responsible for out-of-pocket expenses in the event of a car accident.
"Full Coverage" Limits
When you hear the term “full coverage insurance” it is understandable to assume that this policy fully covers you. However, while this is your best insurance policy, there is a dollar limit on your policy. The average driver does not often think about this because most insurance agents aren’t going to disclose all of the technical details of a policy. What most people end up with is full coverage insurance with the minimum limit required by the state DMV, which is $25K in Virginia.
If you were to be in an accident that resulted in a serious injury; costing thousands of dollars in medical bills, you may not be able to recover as much as you need. For example, if you and the driver at fault both carry insurance policies with the minimum limits, the maximum pay out from the insurance company is going to be $25K. The amount you are paid over and above that depends wholly on the assets of the other driver. The court can only get money for you if there is money to be had.
To help avoid this situation, you can upgrade the limits on your insurance coverage. As long as your driving record is in decent shape, the increase in your insurance premium to help keep you better protected is rather minimal. To find out how much coverage you could have under a full coverage insurance plan, review your policy and call your agent.
We always want everyone to be as well protected as possible in the chance that an accident occurs. Get all of the facts about your case and make sure to work with a personal injury lawyer as soon as possible.
Do Insurers Have to Tell You About Liability Policy Limits?
You might be surprised to find that the liability policy limits held by the driver that hit you are not something you necessarily have the right to know. In Virginia, the policy caps of other drivers do not need to be disclosed when filing a claim, which was argued as a way to prevent dishonest claimants from automatically demanding the largest recovery possible.
However, recent legal updates have made it possible to reveal the policy limits when a lawsuit is filed in court. Otherwise, plaintiff attorneys would have considerable trouble calculating damages and knowing whether or not the plaintiff’s own uninsured/underinsured motorist (UM/UIM) coverage would need to be used. Furthermore, plaintiffs can use the discovery process when filing against a drunk driver to uncover policy limits and how those might affect punitive damages in the case.
Injured in an Accident? Contact Huffman & Huffman
If you are injured in an accident in Newport News, don’t hesitate to reach out to Huffman and Huffman for legal assistance. Insurance companies are notorious for using every trick in the book to deny claims, even valid ones.
Our legal advocates will be standing in your corner so you don’t have to go up against the insurance company by yourself. We will review each word of your policy or the at-fault driver’s policy and fight to help you obtain maximum compensation.
Contact Huffman & Huffman at (757) 330-3425 to schedule your free consultation. If you are social distancing, we are able to provide you with a phone or virtual consultations instead.