(Your UM / UIM Insurance May Cover You.)
In Virginia, a driver who causes an accident is legally responsible for compensating the victims for their injuries. Usually, the at-fault driver’s insurance company pays the compensation. So what happens if you’re injured by a driver who doesn’t have insurance or has insufficient insurance to pay for your injuries? You own UM/UIM insurance may cover you. UM/UIM refers to uninsured motorist and underinsured motorist insurance coverage.
UM / UIM Insurance Requirements in Virginia
Uninsured and underinsured motorist coverage is governed by statute in Virginia. If you have an auto insurance policy, the law requires your policy to include UM/UIM coverage. Minimum limits for coverage are $25,000 per person for bodily injury, $50,000 per accident for bodily injury, and $20,000 for property damage per incident. (The minimum coverage is the same as for the liability insurance in your policy.)
Just as many drivers carry higher limits for liability coverage, limits for UM/UIM can also be higher amounts up to your general liability limits. Carrying more than the minimum required insurance is often advisable in both cases.
UM / UIM Insurance Coverage
Drivers in Virginia are not required to carry car insurance. However, to legally drive without insurance, certain requirements must be met. Unfortunately, there are drivers who operate a vehicle illegally with no insurance. The insurance industry estimates that about 10 percent of Virginia drivers operate without any insurance coverage at all.
In addition, there are many drivers who carry only the minimum coverage required by law. In a serious accident, especially one involving multiple vehicles, those limits are often insufficient to cover all the compensation due to the injured victims.
When an accident occurs, insurance coverage issues are critical to determining the available sources for victim compensation. A driver with no insurance is referred to as an uninsured driver. A driver with insufficient insurance is referred to as an underinsured driver. In both cases, there is not enough insurance coverage to pay for all the victims’ compensation.
That’s where your own insurance policy’s UM/UIM coverage becomes important. When an at-fault driver is uninsured or underinsured, your own policy covers you and compensates you for your injuries, up to the limits of your UM/UIM coverage.
The UM/UIM provisions in your policy cover you if you’re injured in a car accident while driving your own car and an uninsured or underinsured driver is at fault. Typically, it also covers injuries in other car accidents when the at-fault driver has no or insufficient insurance, including:
- Injuries to your spouse and other relatives living in your household
- Injuries to anyone who drives your car with your permission
- Injuries you receive as a passenger in another driver’s car
- Injuries you receive while driving another car
- Injuries you or a family or household member receive in a hit-and-run accident or as a pedestrian or bicyclist
In any of those cases, if the at-fault driver has no insurance or the insurance is insufficient to pay full compensation, the UM/UIM coverage in your policy might make up the difference.
Typical UM/UIM coverage includes full compensation for injuries, including medical expenses, pain and suffering, lost wages and earning capacity, up to the policy limits. While your health insurance or MedPay coverage (medical expense benefits coverage) may cover medical expenses (and lost income in the case of MedPay) resulting from an accident caused by an uninsured or underinsured driver, your UM/UIM pays the full amount of economic and non-economic damages you are entitled to under Virginia accident law, up to the limits of your coverage.
It is important to note that the rules above typically apply to UM/UIM coverage in Virginia. However, the provisions of your own policy will govern your entitlement to compensation. Policies do differ in their specific provisions, so it’s always important to check the provisions of your own policy to be certain of exactly what and who are covered by your policy.
UM / UIM Claims
Claims with your own insurance company under the UM/UIM provisions are very different from other types of auto insurance claims. The law governing UM/UIM claims is extremely complex.
On account of the way UM/UIM works, it is not uncommon for an injured person to be covered by the UM/UIM provisions in more than one insurance policy for injuries received in an accident caused by an uninsured or underinsured driver. When more than one policy covers an injured victim, Virginia allows coverage in the different policies to be aggregated or “stacked” to recover the full amount of compensation to which the victim is entitled.
If you’re seriously injured in an auto accident, it’s always important to talk with an attorney. However, it’s especially critical to talk with an experienced automobile accident attorney if an uninsured or underinsured driver was at fault. Attempting to navigate and negotiate your own way through the insurance coverage issues in that situation could easily result in recovering less than the full compensation you deserve.
Talk With an Experienced Virginia Beach Car Accident Attorney
If you have been seriously injured in a car accident in Virginia, and the accident was another person’s fault — or if a loved one has been severely injured or died in an accident caused by someone else, Virginia Beach car accident attorney Jeff Brooke is here to help make sure you recover all the compensation you deserve. Contact us by phone at (757) 785-0837 or by using our online contact form.
Jeff Brooke is a personal injury attorney devoted to helping individuals who have suffered serious and catastrophic injuries or lost a loved one as a result of someone else’s negligent and careless actions. The Jeff Brooke Team serves all of southeastern Virginia. The firm helps clients in the Greater Tidewater and Greater Hampton Roads areas, including in Virginia Beach, Norfolk, Portsmouth, Chesapeake, and Chesterfield. The Jeff Brooke Team also handles cases in northeastern North Carolina, including the Outer Banks.