If you are injured in a car accident, navigating the maze of insurance claims, medical expenses, and all the other complications that come afterward can be overwhelming. If you file a claim with your own insurance company, you may find that your policy does not cover some types of expenses that you incur as a result of the accident—or your insurance company is claiming that it doesn’t. So can you file a claim for personal injury with your own insurance?
Yes. But it depends on what kind of coverage you have.
Drivers in Virginia are required to purchase car insurance, unless they choose to pay an Uninsured Motor Vehicle fee of $500 each year to the DMV. In this case, you assume all the risk and responsibility in the event of an accident. Most drivers in Virginia choose to purchase insurance, knowing that the potential costs in the event of an accident far outweigh the amount of their insurance premium.
Types of Coverage
There are two categories of coverage that drivers are required to have in order to meet Virginia’s standards for minimum acceptable insurance: liability and Uninsured/Underinsured Motorist coverage.
Liability insurance covers damages and injuries that you may cause to others in an accident where you are determined to be at fault. There are a few things it is important to know about liability coverage.
- Liability coverage only pays for injuries and damages to the other car driver (and any passengers or others injured). It does not apply to any damages or injuries you may suffer. So you would not be able to claim personal injury under this coverage.
- Like all insurance, liability insurance will only pay up to the limits of the policy. If you are at fault for an accident, and the expenses exceed the limits of your insurance policy, you may be personally liable for the difference.
- With that in mind, you should be aware that the minimum required liability insurance in Virginia is fairly low: $25,000 for injuries to one person or a total of $50,000 for injuries to two or more people, and $20,000 for property damage. Medical bills for serious injuries can easily exceed these amounts, as can property damage, especially in the event that the other car is totaled and must be replaced.
- Fortunately, you have the option to purchase liability insurance above the minimum limits. Most insurance companies offer several different levels for you to choose from.
The second type of insurance required in Virginia is Uninsured/Underinsured Motorist (UM/UIM) coverage. This coverage protects you if you are involved in a car accident caused by a driver without insurance, or who doesn’t have enough insurance coverage to pay for your medical bills or repairs to your vehicle.
Under UM/UIM coverage, you would file a claim with your insurance company to pay the cost of your medical care and car repairs. It’s important to remember, however, that this insurance coverage only applies if the uninsured/underinsured driver is at fault for the accident. If you are found to be at fault, then your insurance would not cover any costs under this part of your policy.
Liability and UM/UIM are the only two types of coverage required in Virginia to meet the minimum standards of acceptable car insurance coverage. As you are probably aware, though, insurance companies offer other types of optional coverage. It is usually one of these additional coverages that would apply in order for your insurance company to pay for your damages after a car accident.
Medpay is the type of coverage that would pay for your medical expenses, as well as lost income if you are unable to work because of your injuries. As with other types of coverage, your insurance company will probably have several levels of coverage to choose from.
Remember that the policy limit is the maximum that the insurance company will pay if you are injured in an accident. You will be responsible for medical bills above that amount, unless you have health insurance or other coverage that would apply under the circumstances of your accident.
You should also be aware that compensation for lost wages is extremely limited under Virginia Medpay coverage. $100 per week is the maximum amount that insurance companies are allowed to offer. Some other states have coverage similar to Medpay called Personal Injury Protection (PIP). PIP coverage can offer more compensation for lost wages, as well as other related benefits. Unfortunately, this type of insurance is not allowed under Virginia law.
Physical damage coverage is the part of your insurance that will pay for repairs to your vehicle. It is divided into two parts: Collision and Other Than Collision. Collision coverage applies to damages caused by your car colliding with another car or any other object. Other Than Collision coverage applies to all other types of damage. Examples include hail damage, falling objects such as tree branches, and vandalism.
Both Medpay and physical damage coverage apply regardless of who is at fault for an accident. This is why most drivers choose to purchase these coverages even though they aren’t required by Virginia law.
There are other incidental types of coverage that can be added to your car insurance, but these are the major categories. In most cases, you would file a claim for medical expenses with your own insurance company under your Medpay coverage.
Can I Sue My Insurance Company?
You may choose to file a lawsuit against your own insurance company if they are reluctant to pay some or all of your claim. If you believe that your insurance carrier is not fulfilling the terms of your policy, it may be time to consult an attorney about your options.
It is important to understand what your car insurance does and does not cover, as well as the maximum amount of each type of coverage. That way you will know if the insurance company refuses to cover expenses that should be paid under the terms of your policy. The details of insurance policies can be complicated; however, so you may want to speak to a lawyer if you find that you and your insurance company disagree about aspects of your claim.
If you’ve been injured in an accident, the experienced attorneys at Geoff McDonald & Associates can help. Call (804) 888-8888 or contact us on our website to set up a free consultation.