Public Service Announcement: Don’t Overlook Uninsured Motorist Coverage

You probably know if your cell phone is insured but do you know your uninsured and underinsured motorist coverage policy limits.  You should, it may be your most important policy. 

In Virginia, a driver is only required to have $25,000 in liability coverage.  Typically, if you are injured in an automobile accident, you can only recover the negligent driver’s policy limits.  Uninsured Motorist Coverage (called UM in the trade) and Underinsured Motorist Coverage (called UIM) protects you if those policy limits don’t cover the full cost of your medical care.

Situations where UM/UIM coverage is particularly important

  1. Hit and Run drivers:  if the driver is unknown your only hope of finding insurance coverage is probably your uninsured motorist coverage.
  2. The negligent (at fault) driver has little or no insurance coverage.

How does UM/UIM coverage work?

In Virginia if you have UM/UIM coverage and are injured by an uninsured or underinsured motorist then your insurance company will provide legal defense to the uninsured/underinsured driver.  As an example, assume you are injured by a negligent driver and have $80,000 in medical bills.  The negligent driver only has $25,000 in liability coverage and you have $100,000 in UM/UIM coverage.  Let’s say the court awards $150,000 in damages.  In this scenario the negligent driver’s insurance company would pay $25,000 in damages and your UM/UIM would then pay $75,000 in damages.  The UM/UIM coverage only takes effect for the amount that is greater than the negligent driver’s policy.  Your total recovery would only be $100,000.  If you had $200,000 in UM/UIM coverage you could have recovered the entire $150,000 that was awarded by the court.  However, lets change the scenario.  In Scenario 2, you only have $25,000 in UM/UIM coverage.  In Scenario 2 you would be able to recover $25,000 from the negligent driver’s insurance company and nothing from your UM/UIM carrier.    The person in Scenario 1 (even though they didn’t have enough UM/UIM coverage) recovered 75% more. Now, you begin to see the importance of UM/UIM coverage.  For a few more dollars per month, you can ensure that you receive the treatment you deserve if you are injured by a negligent driver.

What are we seeing in practice?

In the last two years, in a large percentage my personal injury cases the negligent driver only had $25,000 in coverage.  Additionally, the majority of my clients only had $25,000 in UM/UIM coverage.  Many were forced to accept less than the true values of their case because of the lack of insurance coverage.

Take Action Now

  1. Review your automobile insurance policy and determine how much UM/UIM coverage you have currently.
  2. Full Coverage does not mean that you are protected.  You need to look at the amounts of coverage.
  3. Determine the amount of UM/UIM coverage that you need.  Each individual should make an assessment of how much coverage they can afford.  However, a minimum policy of $25,000 is not enough.
  4. Our advice is to get the largest UM/UIM policy that you can afford.  In Virginia the maximum UM/UIM coverage is usually $500,000 in coverage.  If you can afford it, please get it.

If you need help with a personal injury case or auto accident case in Chesterfield, Colonial Heights, Dinwiddie, Hopewell, Petersburg, Prince George, or Sussex. Give us a call at (804) 668-5327 or email us at to schedule a consultation.