Can an Uninsured Motorist Claim Increase Your Car Insurance Premiums in Virginia?
In Virginia, if you have been involved in a car accident that was not your fault, you have the ability and the right to file a claim for your damages. However, where and with-whom you file that claim will vary, depending on the facts of the accident. What if the at-fault driver has no insurance? This is the exact reason why you have uninsured motorist coverage as part of your own car insurance policy.
Uninsured motorist coverage, or UM, is specifically there to help you if you are involved in a car accident with someone who does not have any car insurance. Also, it helps you when the other person has coverage, but that coverage is not applicable (when coverage is denied, or disclaimed). For example, if a car was stolen and causes an accident, or it was used without the permission of the owner, these maybe times when an insurance company disclaims coverage. Disclaiming coverage means that there is a legitimate policy, but it does not cover the specific facts of this loss.
Your uninsured motorist coverage also protects you if you are in an accident with a vehicle that cannot be identified, such as a hit and run driver.
UM Claims and Virginia Car Insurance Premiums
Virginia law does not allow a car insurance company to increase your premium because of an uninsured motorist claim. The reason behind this is simple: because you are not making a claim that you were at fault for! The insurance company can generally only increase your premiums if you are found to be at fault.
You are not to be penalized for something that is beyond your control. This is enshrined in Virginia Code § 38.2-1905.
How Much Uninsured Motorist Coverage am I Required to Have in Virginia?
Virginia law requires that uninsured motorist coverage be offered in the minimum amounts of $30,000 per person, $60,000 per incident. This means that the most an insurance company will pay to one single person who is involved in an accident is $30,000. But, even if they were four people in your car at the time of a hit and run crash, the aggregate total that they will pay, tops, is $60,000. That money can be divided anyway that the claimants want, whether it is $15,000 per person, or $30,000 to two people, and nothing to anyone else. However, such a distribution can often be fraught with legal issues, which is a prime reason to always call an attorney right away after a car accident!
What is Underinsured Motorist Coverage?
Underinsured Motorist Coverage, or UIM, is designed to protect you in a car accident where the other driver does not have enough insurance coverage to make you whole for your injuries and your damages. For example, if you were hurt in an accident where the other-driver has a Virginia minimum insurance police of $30,000, the most that you would be able to recover is the other driver's policy limits of $30,000.
But what if your medical treatment cost $100,000?
Under previous Virginia law, your UM and UIM coverage was entitled to an offset, up to the limits of the at-fault driver's car insurance coverage. What that meant, in practical terms, is if there was an accident between two people, both with minimum insurance coverage, then the most that the innocent driver was able to get was $30,000. This is because your own car insurance's UIM coverage would get a credit for all of the $30,000 of the other person's policy. However, thankfully, that is not the case anymore.
This previous offset system was changed, and became effective July 1, 2023. Now, your car insurance no longer gets that offset! If you are involved in an accident and both you and the at-fault driver have minimum coverage, you can still get $30,000 from the at-fault carrier's insurance, and the $30,000 from your own uninsured motorist coverage (assuming you have a minimum policy)!
Beware! Insurance companies are currently offering discounts to people try to get them to waive the offset!!!!!!!! This is an extremely bad idea!
Even though you may save $50 a month, you have got to remember the amount of money in question. Let's take that example:
The insurance offers you a savings of $50.00/month
12 months a year is $600/year.
This means that it would take 50 years to save $30,000 - which is exactly how much coverage you are eligible for - and waiving! - if you are involved in a car accident!
BLASZKOW LEGAL DOES NOT RECOMMEND THAT YOU EVER ACCEPT
A WAIVER OF CAR INSURANCE COVERAGE UNDER THE NEW LAW
- DO NOT BE FOOLED IN THE INSURANCE COMPANIES CALL IT
"ENHANCED COVERAGE" OR "ENHANCED UIM"
The coverage is not enhanced, it is merely the law. But this law does allow people to "opt-out," and the car insurance companies are doing everything they can to actively convince people that they will save money by doing this. Simply put - you may save money now, but it can be devastating if you are hurt in an accident later!
Can My Insurance Drop Me as a Client if I File an Uninsured Motorist Claim?
No, absolutely not. That would be in violation of Virginia law. However, it is important that you understand exactly why they are refusing to renew your car insurance policy. If you have had other claims, or tickets, they may be able to discontinue your coverage for those reasons.
What Should I Do if I Think My Car Insurance Company is Raising My Rates After an Uninsured Motorist Claim?
In Virginia, the insurance industry is regulated by the Virginia Insurance Commission, which is part of the State Corporation Commission. If you believe that your insurance company has violated the law, you may file a complaint with this board. They will investigate immediately. However, you should be warned, that this is not an overnight process.
File an Insurance Complaint: https://scc.virginia.gov/pages/File-an-Insurance-Complaint-(1)
What Should I do if I am Involved in a Car Accident With an Uninsured Motorist? Or a Hit and Run???
You need to call an experienced uninsured motorist claims lawyer in Virginia right away. We tell people not to speak freely with their own car insurance company after an accident, for this very reason. Your car insurance, even though you pay them, very quickly becomes adversarial if your car accident becomes classified as an uninsured motorist claim. They will do everything they can to minimize the claim, or to deny it outright.
Always contact an attorney who will begin to fight for you right away. Evidence has to be reviewed and developed, and your rights need to be protected.
Contact a Virginia Car Accident Lawyer Today
If you have any questions about uninsured motorist claims, or about uninsured motorist coverage at all, you should call an experienced car accident lawyer right away. At Blaszkow Legal, we are always happy to discuss this with you, and give you as much guidance as we can. The key thing to remember is that time is of the essence. You should never wait to talk to an attorney after an accident. Insurance adjusters are getting to work right away, and you need to be protected just as quickly as they are getting to work.
Always remember this: insurance agents work for their parent-insurance companies, and insurance companies are looking out for their stockholders. Only a lawyer is ethically obliged to guide you to what is in your best interests!
Call or email Blaszkow Legal today for a free consultation or insurance review! 703-879-5910