As attorneys, we recommend that our clients have $250,000 to $300,000 of car insurance coverage. If you know anything about Virginia car insurance law, you will notice that this amount is higher than the $25,000 per person and $50,000 per accident minimum liability limits that all drivers must carry in order to register their car with the DMV. Otherwise, the driver must pay the $500 uninsured motorist fee.
Why Do I Need to Pay More?
Virginia set its minimum limits in the law in1975. Replacement cost for a new car, as well as medical treatment, cost much less in 1975 than it does now. Today, the minimum coverage requirements may not cover all the injuries and property damage involved in a car accident. If you cause more than $25,000 to $50,000 in a car crash, and you only have the minimum amount of coverage, you will be personally responsible for the rest – and today’s car accidents can cost much more than $50,000.
Further, the minimum coverage may not be of much help if you get hit by an uninsured or underinsured driver.
Uninsured Motorist Coverage
When purchasing car insurance, the insurance company must offer you uninsured motorist (UM) and underinsured motorist coverage (UIM) in the same amount as your primary coverage. This is another reason why you should have more car insurance than Virginia requires.
If you have $25,000 of UM/UIM and an uninsured driver hits you, you will only have $25,000 for your medical bills. Even if the underinsured driver has $25,000 of coverage, your minimum coverage will not help you because your UM/UIM limits will be the same as your primary coverage limits.
If you have $250,000 of coverage, on the other hand, you can use the at-fault driver’s minimum coverage for the first portion of your expenses, then use up to $225,000 of your own policy for any additional costs.
Another way to think about car insurance – sometimes, the only coverage available to you will be the coverage that you already have, so it is worth having more than Virginia’s minimum. Your premiums may be slightly higher, but the extra cost will give you peace of mind.
What if My Insurance Company Refuses to Pay?
Our law firm is experienced at handling UIM claims. Often, the at-fault driver’s insurance company will tender its limits of liability coverage. This leaves only the UIM coverage for the plaintiff to pursue. Our firm has tried UIM cases to jury verdict.