Why is it important for me to have uninsured motorist insurance? | Shapiro, Washburn & Sharp

Uninsured motorist insurance (UM) is a crucial component of an auto insurance policy that can provide essential protection for drivers. This type of coverage is designed to step in when you’re involved in an accident with a driver who either doesn’t have insurance (uninsured) or doesn’t have sufficient insurance coverage (underinsured) to fully compensate you for your losses. In Virginia, having uninsured motorist insurance is not only beneficial but also legally mandated for good reasons. Here’s why it’s so important:

Legal Requirement

First and foremost, uninsured motorist insurance is mandatory in Virginia. The state law requires that all auto insurance policies issued in Virginia must include uninsured motorist coverage unless the policyholder explicitly rejects it in writing. The minimum coverage amounts are typically set at the same limits as the bodily injury liability coverage you carry on your policy, which is $25,000 per person, $50,000 per accident for bodily injury, and $20,000 for property damage. This legal requirement underscores the importance that the state places on this coverage.

Protects You from Uninsured and Underinsured Drivers

Despite the legal requirement for auto insurance, there are still drivers who choose to ignore it or carry only the minimum coverage required. If you’re involved in an accident with one of these drivers, and they are at fault, you could find yourself in a difficult situation. Without uninsured motorist insurance, you may have to rely on your own health insurance or other personal resources to cover your medical bills, vehicle repairs, and other damages. If the at-fault driver is underinsured, meaning their insurance coverage is insufficient to pay for your losses, uninsured motorist coverage can make up the difference.

Medical Expenses Coverage

Car accidents can result in serious injuries, and the resulting medical bills can quickly become overwhelming. Uninsured motorist coverage can help pay for your medical expenses when the at-fault driver doesn’t have insurance or enough insurance to cover these costs. This is particularly important when the victim sustains serious to severe injuries, and the cost of medical care can be significant.

Loss of Income

Many injured victims are unable to work while they recover from their injuries. This often means they are not getting paid. Lost wages are recoverable in car accident claims under Virginia law. Uninsured motorist coverage will ensure you receive that lost income should the at-fault driver fail to carry auto insurance.

Property Damage Coverage

In addition to covering medical expenses and loss of income, uninsured motorist insurance can also help with property damage. If your vehicle is damaged in an accident with an uninsured or underinsured driver, this coverage can step in to pay for repairs or replacement, minimizing the financial burden on you.

Hit-and-Run Accidents

Hit-and-run accidents are unfortunately not uncommon. In such cases, the at-fault driver may flee the scene, making it impossible to identify them or their insurance information. Uninsured motorist coverage can be invaluable in hit-and-run scenarios, providing you with compensation for your losses even when the responsible party cannot be located.

Peace of Mind

Knowing that you have uninsured motorist coverage can provide peace of mind when you’re on the road. You can drive with confidence, knowing that if you’re involved in an accident with an uninsured or underinsured driver, you have a safety net to protect your financial interests and well-being.

Timely Resolution

Insurance claims involving uninsured or underinsured drivers can be complex and time-consuming. Having uninsured motorist coverage can expedite the claims process, helping you get the compensation you need more quickly.