Burnett & Williams

Are You Protected Against Uninsured and Underinsured Drivers?

Are You Protected Against Uninsured and Underinsured Drivers?

Making sure your insurance policy includes UM/UIM coverage is a wise financial decision.

File folder with text "Are you covered?"

Auto insurance isn’t something most of us think much about after we initially sign on to a plan, but it might be worth your while to take a closer look at your policy. There could be an easy and affordable change you can make to help protect you if you’re ever involved in an auto accident with an uninsured or underinsured driver. You don’t want to find out after you’ve had a bad car crash that you’re not as well-covered as you thought you were.

When buying auto insurance, most of us are aware of the need for adequate coverage for accidents that we cause. But something that we might give less thought to is planning for the possibility of being injured by a driver with no insurance, or inadequate insurance. Believe it or not, in Virginia 10% of all drivers don’t have any insurance at all. Practically speaking, this means that 1 in 10 of all of the vehicles you pass on your way to the grocery store or to work are operating with no means of paying for the damages they might cause. In order to protect yourself from being in a vulnerable situation, it is essential to have what is called uninsured/underinsured (UM/UIM) motorist coverage. Insurance companies in Virginia are required by law to offer it in the same amount as your liability coverage. The key is getting it in an adequate amount. Because no matter how cautious you are behind the wheel, anytime you drive you risk facing medical, disability, and loss-of-income expenses that exceed typical insurance limits. 

Underinsured or Uninsured Motorist insurance protects you in the event that the person who injures you has little or no liability coverage. For example, if you have UIM coverage in the amount of $300,000, and someone with only $25,000 in liability coverage seriously injures you, then once the $25,000 is paid, you are eligible for $275,000 in coverage from your own insurance. UIM coverage is a way for you and your family to protect yourself against underinsured drivers. You should purchase UIM coverage in the same amount as your Liability coverage. Just as important, using your UM/UIM coverage does not cause your own insurance premiums to increase. Why? Because you were not at fault in the accident.

Another smart choice is to buy an umbrella policy; the key is to be sure it covers UM/UIM. Insurance agents will often recommend against increasing your liability and UM/UIM limits as a cost-saving measure, and advise instead to add an umbrella. The hitch here is that more than 95% of these inexpensive umbrella policies do not provide UM/UIM coverage, so you need to be sure to ask specifically for it. Some companies will allow an endorsement to add the UM/UIM coverage. The bottom line is, be sure to check carefully what exactly is and is not covered under your insurance plan.

As always, we are happy to discuss your auto insurance circumstances and needs with you at any time for no charge. And our attorneys will make time to give a presentation on carrying adequate auto insurance to you and/or a group of friends or colleagues either remotely (Zoom, etc.) or in-person as the circumstances may allow. Feel free to give us a call at (703) 777-1650, or contact us here.