Many times I have been told by clients that they don’t want to involve their own personal automobile insurance policy in connection with their recent car accident. I usually hear something like “I shouldn’t be forced to use my own insurance because of someone else’s negligence” or “Why should my insurance be forced to fix my car when its the other guy’s fault”. While it is understandable that people don’t want to risk having their insurance rates go up, there are many situations where using your own insurance is no longer a choice, but a necessity.
The common understanding regarding automobile insurance is that it is there to pay others in the event that you cause injury due to your negligence. Personal automobile insurance in Virginia provides for minimum liability coverage limits of $25,000/$50,000.
This minimum limit means that your personal automobile insurance carrier will pay a maximum of $25,000 per person, and $50,000 per accident for injuries arising from any one accident. In the event you injure someone as a result of your negligence, the other person will receive a maximum of $25,000 from your personal automobile liability insurance, and not a penny more. However, there are many situations where $25,000/$50,000 in coverage is wholly insufficient.
Consider the following: You to hit another car with 5 occupants, and severely injure all 5 people. Because of your low limits of liability coverage, each person receives a maximum of $5,000 each, despite the severity of their injuries. I have seen too many cases over the years where unfortunately there wasn’t enough insurance coverage to pay for otherwise serious injuries.
In the event there was an accident where someone died, the surviving family members would be able to recover a maximum of $25,000 from your insurance. How would you feel if a family member died as a result of someone else’s negligence, and the maximum recoverable from the insurance was only $25,000.
The real problem arises when the injured party, not satisfied with the low insurance payout, begins to take steps to collect money directly from you. Your life savings could be put at risk all because you tried to save a few bucks paying a little less in auto insurance each year. This is generally a bad idea. Having higher limits of liability protects your assets in the event you have a claim where you might be held at fault for greater than $25,000 minimum limit available to any individual plaintiff. Virginia Liability policies range from 25,000/50,000 to 50,000/100,000, 100/300, 300/500, and 500/1mil. Having high Liability limits in Virginia, by law, also provides you with uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage equal to your liability coverage limits unless you elect otherwise. Having high underinsured motorist coverage limitscasn make the difference between receiving full recovery or receiving only what the defendant has in coverage. In this day and age, you should never rely upon the insurance coverage of someone else to provide you with the benefits you need. You need to protect yourself and your loved ones. One of the eaisiest ways to protect yourself and your family is to purchase high uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage. Continued in Part 2.