Most states require, by law, drivers to carry some sort of car insurance that provides protection of the car, and themselves. Obtaining insurance is an important part of being a responsible car owner. The auto insurance you buy should, at minimum, meet state requirements, but we strongly encourage everyone to obtain a higher level of coverage. Why? Because you never know if you will be involved in a serious car wreck that results in a catastrophic injury. The more coverage you have, the better protected you are during your recovery period.
Virginia Automobile Insurance Requirements
In Virginia, if you purchase insurance, the minimum amount of coverage required is 25/50/20. The first two numbers refer to bodily injury liability limits – sickness, disease, injury, and death arising from an accident. The third number refers to the property damage liability limit – damage to another person’s property.
To further explain, the first two numbers mean, in an accident, each injured person would receive a maximum up to $25,000 with only $50,000 allowed per accident. And the last number refers to the total coverage per accident for property damage and in this case it would be $20,000.
While the state minimum requirements must be met, the amount of liability coverage you carry should be enough to offer peace of mind while protecting your assets in the event of an accident. This is why we strongly encourage all readers to obtain coverage that is beyond the state minimum. Some people may be thinking, “I can’t afford a high-end car insurance policy.” However, it may surprise you to know that increasing your coverage from the minimum to a higher-level of coverage such as 100/300/50 or more does not cost that much more per month (could be as little as an extra $10-15 per month, depending on the insurance company you use). You could also consider adding an umbrella policy for additional protection.
Avoid the $500 UMV Fee
For some odd reason, Virginia allows drivers to pay a $500 uninsured motor vehicle (UMV) fee. This allows a driver to operate a vehicle on our roads and highways without any insurance protection. I have to be honest, this is one of the most ill-conceived and misguided public policies I have ever seen in my time as an attorney. Allowing drivers to operate a vehicle on public roads without any insurance not only exposes that driver to a tremendous amount of unprotected liability, but it also makes your insurance coverage more complicated since all insurance policies in Virginia have to include uninsured motorist coverage.
So, if you’re tempted to just pay the $500 fee, don’t do it. Get an insurance policy for your car. You won’t regret the decision.
Understanding an Insurance Umbrella
An umbrella policy, in short, protects you from liability issues that go beyond the liability limits of standard insurance policies – both automobile and homeowners policies. The policy puts you under its “umbrella” so that should you exceed liability coverage limits, you would still be protected. Every policy is different, what may be considered under one, may not be under another.
Most people think they don’t need an umbrella policy but ask yourself this question, in the rare occasion that you are sued, what happens to your family’s assets if the lawsuit exceeds your liability coverage? Umbrella policies are typically inexpensive because they kick in only after you’ve exhausted your liability coverage under your auto or homeowners policy.
Pay As You Drive Insurance (PAYD)
Lastly, PAYD insurance is a type of automobile insurance whereby the costs of insurance are dependent on the type of vehicle, measured against time, distance, place and behavior.
The potential benefits include, but are not limited to, potential cost savings for responsible users. More choice for consumers on the type of insurance they purchase and more.
In closing, it’s important to weigh your options and to ensure that you have the best policy to cover all your needs. The greater the value of your assets, the more you stand to lose. Plan ahead. Don’t wait until you are in a bad situation to find out just how lacking your insurance coverage is.
About Our Firm: We have offices in Virginia Beach, Hampton, and Norfolk, VA along with an office in Elizabeth City, NC. Our team of car accident injury attorneys publish and edit articles on three Legal Examiner sites as a pro bono service to the general public.