Understanding Uninsured and Underinsured Driver Insurance
It can happen in an instant: squealing brakes and the terrifying crash of metal on metal. A careless driver causes a car accident that leaves you injured, your vehicle totaled and your daily life upended. Medical bills are mounting to tens of thousands of dollars, and you won’t be able to return to work for months.
Immediately following the accident, you’d been comforted to hear the other driver had a great “full-coverage” car insurance policy. Initially, that gave you some peace of mind, which is exactly what auto insurance is meant to provide.
But what if it turns out that a “great full-coverage car insurance policy” just isn’t enough to cover your extensive medical bills? Worse yet, what if the at-fault driver doesn’t have any liability insurance at all?
Suddenly, in addition to the pain and misery the accident caused you, you’re dealing with the possibility of unexpected debt that far exceeds what the uninsured or underinsured driver’s policy will provide. The peace of mind you had hoped for early on is gone, and you’re left wondering what you could have done better to protect yourself before the accident occurred. You’re probably also asking yourself, “Do I have enough car insurance myself?”
“Full-Coverage” Car Insurance Might Not Be Enough
Stories like this one are not uncommon. An estimated 1 out of every 10 drivers in Virginia is uninsured, according to the Insurance Information Institute, and some believe that number could be even higher. Significantly more drivers are underinsured, carrying only the bare minimum liability insurance policy, which is currently $30,000 under Virginia law (slated to increase to $50,000 in 2025). Odds of being hit by a driver who might not have the means to provide full and fair compensation after an accident are high.
With the cost of medical bills getting higher every year, $30,000 in minimal liability insurance isn’t likely to offset the costs of an injury sustained in a car accident. To protect themselves and their families, drivers need to understand that having full-coverage car insurance means you have enough insurance – more than required state minimums – and the policy includes liability, collision, and comprehensive coverage.
The attorneys at Huffman & Huffman Brothers-in-Law, a personal injury law firm based in Virginia, handle situations just like this one on a regular basis. “We see the daily consequences of being involved in an auto accident with either an uninsured or underinsured driver. Many situations involve our clients having to turn to their own policy to obtain compensation for their personal injury claim,” says Brad Huffman, one of the law firm’s senior partner attorneys. “It is so important that you ensure your own car insurance policy has sufficient coverage so that you have a safety net should you, unfortunately, find yourself in this situation.”
Protecting Yourself Before a Car Accident Happens
The number one way to protect yourself and your family before an accident happens is to make sure your own auto insurance policy is equipped to cover you in any situation – whether you or another driver is at fault for the collision. Huffman & Huffman’s attorneys say the biggest mistake a driver can make is not having enough insurance or assuming that the minimum limits required by the state are enough.
In the event that an at-fault driver is either uninsured or underinsured and cannot cover your personal injury claim, a strong, full-coverage personal auto insurance policy (and enough of it) will provide a safety net.
Attorneys who work with car accidents say auto insurance liability policies should greatly exceed Virginia’s legally required minimum of $30,000; they suggest drivers obtain $100,000 in liability coverage (which provides the same amount in uninsured/underinsured coverage). With an already existing auto insurance policy, increasing coverage to more substantial limits should only cost a few extra dollars a month. That small increase to monthly premiums could potentially save drivers thousands in the future.
Ask the Car Accident Experts
If you’ve been in a car accident that was not your fault, it is also important to consult a knowledgeable car accident attorney to help explore all the options that might be available to you.
“One of the many benefits of hiring a personal injury law firm is that we have experience in finding all possible insurance coverage that could help cover your injury claim and maximize your compensation,” says Keith Leonard, a partner attorney at Huffman & Huffman. “This could include utilizing coverage from a policy a resident relative may have or tracking down the vehicle’s owner’s policy if they were not the driver.”
A cost-free consultation with a seasoned personal injury firm like Huffman & Huffman Brothers-in-Law can provide a better understanding of the rights and options both drivers and passengers have after an accident. Huffman & Huffman has been serving injured car accident victims for over 50 years in Hampton Roads and all over Virginia.
Contact us today to learn more about the steps you can take if you’ve been injured following a car accident with an uninsured or underinsured driver.