If you or a loved one was hit by a driver with no car insurance, very little car insurance, or were involved in a hit-and-run, this article is for you. Why? Because uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage will likely come into play in these scenarios.
Virginia law requires that car insurance policies provide uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage (a.k.a. UM/UIM coverage). Uninsured Motorst ("UM") coverage compensates you when you are involved in an accident with an uninsured driver. For example, a hit-and-run accident is a situation where the at-fault driver is not known. In this situation, your UM coverage can help to pay for your injuries and damages stemming from the incident. Underinsured Motorist ("UIM") coverage compensates you for damages that go beyond those covered by the limited auto insurance policy of the at-fault driver. Let's say, for example, you have $50,000 in medical expenses and lost wages but the at-fault driver has only $25,000 in coverage. You can utilize your UIM coverage for the remaining $25,000 not covered by the at-fault driver's policy.
How the Process Works
You, or your attorney, make a claim for UM/UIM coverage through your own insurance company. The company will then pay for expenses and losses up to the amount of UM/UIM coverage on your policy. One exception is that your insurance company can avoid paying for property damage up to $200 if the uninsured owner or driver is not known.
That means you may be responsible for the first $200 of property damage stemming from a hit-and-run. Beyond that, the amount you receive from your insurance will depend on the nature of the damages you suffered. You may receive compensation for medical costs, lost wages, pain and suffering, and/or any other damages that you would have been allowed to collect from the at-fault driver if he or she were known or had proper insurance. The amount you receive from your insurance policy will also depend on the extent of your damages.
Additional Benefits of UM/UIM Coverage
This coverage can be utilized to cover members of your family and other qualified drivers if they are involved in an accident with an uninsured or underinsured driver. Coverage can also apply if the accident results in a wrongful death.
Determining the right amount of coverage for you is important. We strongly recommend having more coverage, at least $250,000. Why? Because you can never predict the severity of an accident and if you have a run-of-the-mill legal minimum insurance policy, you are exposing yourself to serious financial hardship if a major accident occurrs. For example, let's say you have a $25,000 insurance policy and the at-fault driver has no insurance. This means the most coverage available to cover all of your medical expenses, lost wages, pain and suffering, etc. is your minimum policy. Anything over that amount will be coming out of your pocket.