Unfortunately, many people buy auto insurance in Virginia without understanding what it covers or how it works. Insurance companies can take advantage of those drivers and pay less than they should after a car accident.
This is where Geoff McDonald & Associates can help. Our car accident attorneys in Richmond have been standing up for Virginia residents against insurance companies for more than 20 years.
If you have an auto insurance claim, just call Geoff. We will seek the payment you deserve.
What’s in Your Car Insurance Coverage?
Virginia is one of few states that do not require motorists to buy auto insurance. You may instead pay the Uninsured Motorist Vehicle (UMV) fee of $500 to the Department of Motor Vehicles and drive an uninsured vehicle at your own risk. However, doing so can be costly. If you cause a crash, your personal assets may be taken to pay any valid claims against you.
Perhaps realizing the risk of driving uninsured, most drivers in Virginia carry liability insurance, which pays for the damage you cause others in a wreck. The minimum liability limits you must carry in Virginia are:
- $25,000 for injury or death of one person
- $50,000 for injury or death of two or more people
- $20,000 for property damage.
Insurance coverage in Virginia also includes:
- Uninsured Motorist coverage (UM) – Provides bodily injury and property damage protection in an accident caused by an uninsured motorist or a hit-and-run driver
- Underinsured Motorist coverage (UIM) – Protects you against injury by a driver whose liability limits are not high enough to cover your costs.
The minimum allowable UM / UIM coverage in Virginia is $25,000/$50,000/$20,000.
Additional coverage, which you may buy but do not have to purchase, includes:
- Collision and comprehensive coverage – Pays for repair or replacement of your vehicle. Collision coverage pays after an accident. Comprehensive coverage pays for damage from fire, vandalism, water, hail, glass breakage, wind, falling objects and similar events. If you owe money on a new car, the lender probably has required you to have collision and comprehensive coverage.
- Medical expense benefits coverage –Pays for “reasonable and necessary” medical and funeral expenses for you or others injured or killed in an accident while driving or riding in your car.
- Loss of income benefits coverage – Pays you, your family or other passengers in your vehicle for loss of income up to $100 per week for up to 52 weeks (one year).
- Transportation expense coverage – Reimburses you for the cost of renting a vehicle or using other means of transportation while your car is in the shop or being replaced after an accident.
Three Common Virginia Car Insurance Issues
The three insurance issues that commonly arise after a car accident in Virginia are:
- Quick settlement offers – After you report an accident, you are likely to hear from your insurance company or the other driver’s insurer fairly quickly. You may receive a settlement offer. Generally speaking, you should never accept such an offer without a full accounting of all losses associated with your accident. You should not sign anything offered by an insurer or provide a recorded statement. You may be making statements that will adversely affect your claim.
- Uninsured motorists – If an accident was not your fault, you will count on the other driver’s liability insurance. However, there is a strong possibility that the other driver lacks insurance. In fact, the Insurance Research Council estimates that 10 to 13 percent of Virginia drivers are uninsured. If the other driver lacks insurance, you will need to depend on your uninsured motorist (UM) coverage
- Contributory negligence – This is the big one. In Virginia, if you contributed to a car accident in any way – even if you deserve 1 percent of the blame – you cannot be compensated for your losses. Were you speeding at the time of your accident? Did you have an estimate for a brake job that you were putting off? Were you on the phone when you crashed? If so, you can expect the other driver’s insurance company to try to attribute at least 1 percent of the blame on you.
Contact a Richmond Attorney About Your Insurance Issues
Before you accept any insurance settlement offer, contact Geoff McDonald & Associates. We will protect your rights and fight for the compensation you are due.