"What is uninsured and underinsured motorist (UIM) insurance coverage? Do I need this type of coverage?"

What would you do if you were injured in an automobile accident only to find out that the driver who hurt you had no automobile insurance?

Virginia, like some states, does not require drivers to have automobile insurance. Even in states where insurance is required many drivers are minimally insured. Many look no further than what the monthly premiums will be in order to determine what amount of liability coverage to buy. They simply do not care if they hurt someone. You can protect yourself.

Review your own automobile insurance policy. You will find a "declarations page" which lists the various coverages you have along with the premiums you are paying for each. If you cannot find your declarations page, call your agent and get her to send you a copy. The two most important items on that page are the limits of the liability coverage and the uninsured/underinsured motorist coverages. It will usually say something like $25,000/$50,000, or $100,000/$300,000 or $300,000/$500,000. Liability coverage is that amount of money your insurance company would pay in the event that you caused injury to another person. This coverage protects your personal assets.

What Should Your Uninsured Motorist Coverage Be on Your Policy?

We strongly recommend that your liability coverage be in the amount of at least $300,000. In today's world of soaring medical costs, a moderate collision can cause injury in excess of $100,000, which is the limit many people tend to carry. Incredibly, some people carry coverage in amounts less than $100,000.

Call your insurance agent. You may be surprised to learn that the cost of increasing your coverage to $300,000 is not that much. It is under the liability clause of your policy that your insurance company will also provide you with a lawyer to defend against a claim brought by another person. This defense will be provided at the expense of the insurance company.

Underinsured or uninsured motorist coverage is very important. This protects you in the event that a person who causes you injury has little or no liability coverage himself. You should have coverage in the same amount as your liability coverage. In other words, if your liability coverage is in the amount of $300,000, then your uninsured motorist coverage should be in the amount of $300,000. You can elect to have less uninsured motorist coverage than liability coverage but this is not recommended. Again, you may be surprised at how little the additional cost is. If you have uninsured or underinsured coverage in the amount of $300,000, and someone with $25,000 of coverage seriously injured you, their policy would pay the first $25,000 and your policy would step into pay the next $275,000 to provide you with coverage to $300,000. Uninsured motorist coverage is a way for you and your family to protect yourself against irresponsible drivers.

Virginia residents can request our free book on car accident claims from this website.

If you have been injured in a car accident, you can call our main office at (703)584-7277 to speak with our team of experts about your case.

Ben Glass
Ben Glass is a nationally recognized Virginia injury, medical malpractice, and long-term disability attorney