Uninsured Motorist Coverage in Virginia Explained

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  • Uninsured Motorist Coverage in Virginia Explained

While about 12% of drivers in America are uninsured, only about 10% are uninsured in the Old Dominion. In response to that percentage, lawmakers in the state placed a mandatory minimum limit on uninsured motorist coverage so all drivers can be better protected on the roads.

Let’s take a look at how uninsured and underinsured motorist coverage (UM/UIM) works on Virginia auto insurance policies, information about the Virginia uninsured motorist penalty, and other details you may want to know about driving without coverage in the state.

Uninsured Motorist Coverage in Virginia Explained

Uninsured and underinsured motorist coverage (UM/UIM) is required for auto insurance in Virginia. All drivers are required to carry this coverage on their policies, lest they risk the consequences of driving uninsured.

According to Virginia’s car insurance laws, all drivers must have at least $25,000 in uninsured or underinsured motorist bodily injury coverage (UMBI/UIMBI) per person, $50,000 in UMBI/UIMBI per accident, and $20,000 in uninsured or underinsured motorist property damage coverage (UMPD/UIMPD) per accident. Drivers must also have at least $30,000 in bodily injury liability per person, $60,000 in bodily injury liability per accident, and $20,000 in property damage liability per accident, or 30/60/20 liability coverage. Those who lease or finance their vehicles may be required to have comprehensive and collision coverages as part of their legally binding agreement.

Most who drive without the necessary coverage in the Old Dominion are considered uninsured and may face consequences for driving without insurance, like fines, license or registration suspension, or even jail time. If the infraction leads to license or registration suspension, the driver may need to file for an SR-22 form when reinstating their license or registration, which is known to nearly double or triple one’s premiums for years in the future.

While Virginians have mandated coverage limits and driving uninsured in the state is considered a misdemeanor, drivers can legally opt out of the insurance system. Those who opt out of the insurance system can pay an uninsured motorist fee of about $500 annually, making them exempt from the compulsory insurance laws. While opting out of the insurance system may be legal, that doesn’t mean it’s a great idea.

Legally uninsured drivers are still liable for the victim’s expenses in an at-fault accident since Virginia isn’t a no-fault state but a tort state. That means that even though a driver may have paid the fee to legally bow out of the insurance system, they still may be on the hook for another driver’s accident expenses, as well as their own.

Generally, it’s more financially responsible to allocate the money one may use to pay the uninsured motorist fee toward a car insurance policy, even if it’s just a minimum coverage one. Carrying some coverage instead of none helps ensure your safety on the road and helps protect your savings. 

Is Uninsured Motorist Coverage Required in Virginia?

Yes, the Virginia uninsured motorist law considers any driver that doesn’t have the minimum limits for UM coverage or liability coverage uninsured. Drivers may elect to be legally uninsured by paying an annual fee, but those who fail to carry the legal minimum amount of coverage or pay the uninsured motorist fee are illegally uninsured and may face severe consequences. 

Since Virginia is a tort state, drivers rely on each other to carry coverage for their medical expenses and vehicle repairs in the event of an accident. If a policyholder gets into an accident with another policyholder, the at-fault party’s mandatory liability coverage will help the accident victim pay their medical expenses and car repairs. In contrast, if an uninsured motorist causes an accident with a policyholder, the policyholder can use their UM/UIM coverage to cover their medical expenses and auto repairs since the at-fault party doesn’t have coverage on which the victim can rely. 

If a policyholder’s expenses exceed their coverage limits, the at-fault, uninsured motorist is on the hook for the remainder of the expenses. That’s not to mention their own expenses, for which they’re responsible, too. If an uninsured motorist can’t pay for the victim’s expenses, the victim may sue the uninsured driver. 

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Who’s Covered by Virginia Underinsured Motorist Coverage?

In Virginia, uninsured motorist coverage combines underinsured and uninsured motorist coverage as one coverage type, UM/UIM coverage. An underinsured motorist in the Old Dominion is anyone who isn’t able to pay the full amount of an accident victim’s expenses with their insurance coverage.

With underinsured motorist coverage (UIM), a properly insured victim can invoke coverage beyond an at-fault policyholder’s liability coverage to continue to receive assistance for medical expenses or vehicle repairs related to an accident. UIM coverage can only be used if the at-fault party has some insurance coverage but not enough to cover the full amount of the victim’s expenses.

Why Does Virginia Require Uninsured Motorist Coverage?

Virginia requires drivers to either carry UM coverage or pay the annual uninsured motorist fee, which contributes to the Virginia Uninsured Motorist Fund, further reducing the cost of auto insurance for all drivers. Drivers are required to carry UM coverage because about 10% of those on the road in the state are uninsured. Mandating UM/UIM coverage helps ensure drivers are protected on the road, even when the at-fault driver can’t be relied upon for adequate liability coverage.

Drivers with full coverage policies may opt for a higher UM/UIM limit than what’s required, as well as optional additional coverages like medical payments coverage (MedPay), collision coverage, and comprehensive coverage. However, drivers are only legally obligated to have a policy that meets the state’s minimum requirements unless they opt out completely by paying the annual uninsured motorist fee.

While the cheapest policy in the state may be a policy that only meets the legal minimum and doesn’t exceed them, that may not be the safest policy for every driver. A full coverage policy in the Old Dominion costs, on average, about $1,340 annually, while a minimum coverage one only costs about $670 annually. However, a full coverage policy boasts much more protection than one that meets the legal coverage limits without exceeding them. Plus, the top insurers in the state may offer full coverage policies with lower-than-average base rates and many stackable discounts, so drivers can get excellent coverage without blowing through their savings. 

How To Find a Virginia Car Insurance Quote

In an effort to avoid the consequences that come with breaking the Virginia uninsured motorist statute, the best way to find a policy that meets your needs is to get and compare quotes online. By getting and comparing quotes from several insurers, drivers can make the most informed decision about a policy that matches their lifestyle and budget.

Luckily, quotes are our specialty here at Clovered. We even have a free quoting tool you can use to access your unique quotes in minutes. If you prefer to speak with a professional about your quote or all things insurance in Virginia, you can contact one of our licensed agents at 833-255-4117 or agent@clovered.com.

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The editorial content on Clovered’s website is meant to be informational material and should not be considered legal advice.

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