Far too often, folks call us about serious car accidents and tell us that they’ve suffered devastating injuries. And when we tell them that there’s not enough car insurance to cover their claim, they respond, “but I’m fully insured?!” Tragically, car accident injury victims don’t learn that they are underinsured until it’s too late.
Virginia allows drivers on the road with relatively minimal insurance.
Currently, Virginia Code Section 46.2-472 permits people to drive with minimum coverage of $30,000. (That number is to increase to $50,000 in 2025). While that may sound like a lot, if you are seriously injured $30,000 may not even cover your emergency room bills.
And this doesn’t even count drivers that are on the road either without insurance illegally, or who have paid a fee to the Virginia DMV, which allows them to drive without insurance.
Buy UIM to protect yourself!
Because of this, at Abrenio Law, we preach that you need to buy a lot of UIM, or underinsured motorist coverage. UIM protects you in the event that the person that caused your crash doesn’t have enough insurance, and your policy steps in to protect you. Learn more about Virginia UIM and important changes coming on July 1, 2023 here.
What if there’s not enough car insurance?
Unfortunately, most folks that call our firm only learn of our recommendation of buying more UIM after they’ve been seriously injured. And they come to learn that the defendant has minimal insurance and they didn’t buy enough UIM. And they want to know what to do next.
To be clear, you always have a right to seek a personal judgement against the person that caused your injuries. At least in our experience, however, usually folks that have enough money to pay for significant injuries purchase good insurance to protect their wealth. So, we have not had much luck getting people to pay from their pockets.
With that said, you need to have a talk with an attorney about “stacking” car insurance.
While the Virginia rules on “stacking” insurance is too complicated for a single article, essentially, additional investigation needs to be conducted into relevant insurance policies to see if policies can be “stacked” to provide additional coverage for significant injury claims.
Indeed, in some instances policies can be combined to provide additional coverage. One such situation is when you have your own UIM policy, but you live with a relative who has purchased their own UIM policy. Termed “resident-relative” coverage, many insurance policies cover relatives of a named insured when they live with that relative, even if they are not a named insured on that policy.
In fact, in many cases, we’ve had clients inform us that they live with an adult child or sibling that happened to purchase their own UIM policy. And we were able to seek additional coverage through use of their policy. Of course, this is just one example of how complicated Virginia car insurance can be.
Does this mean I’ll definitely find additional coverage in my case?
To be clear, finding additional coverage through “stacking” isn’t guaranteed. In fact, usually, it simply doesn’t apply. And we still believe that the best way to protect yourself going forward is to purchase your own UIM. However, discussing the concept of “stacking” is important in every car accident case, particularly when you find yourself without sufficient car insurance to cover your claim.
Still have questions?
Make sure to check out our Personal Injury & Criminal Defense Practice Pages where we’ve answered many other questions you likely have. James Abrenio is a Fairfax-Based Personal Injury & Criminal Defense attorney who practices throughout Northern Virginia. You can learn more about James Abrenio, some of our Prior Results, and Read Our Reviews. Make sure to contact us at Ph. 703-570-4180 for your Free Consultation.