We are very excited to report on a significant change to Virginia’s automobile insurance laws passed in this year’s legislative session. This law will significantly benefit consumers by providing the full coverage limits purchased when such limits are needed most.
As many of you know, and we have written about before, Virginia law requires that automobile insurance policies provide both liability coverage and uninsured/underinsured coverage. Liability coverage provides financial protection for you up to the stated limit of your policy if you are responsible for causing a crash. Underinsured coverage provides additional financial compensation to you if you are injured in a crash due to someone else’s careless driving and that person’s liability coverage is less than your underinsured limits.
For example, if the at-fault driver has a $25k auto liability policy and you, as the injured party, have a $100k underinsurance policy, you have $100k available in compensation. Under current law, the underinsurance limits receive a credit or setoff for the amount of the available liability insurance. So, consumers currently believe they are purchasing underinsurance limits in the amount stated in the policy ($100k in the above example). In reality, they have some amount less, in the above example $25K less, than the stated underinsured limits, or no amount at all.
Over the years, many of our clients who have been seriously hurt in a car crash caused by careless drivers with minimum liability limits of $25k, question and do not understand why they do not receive the full limits of the underinsurance coverage they purchased when it is sorely needed to compensate them. Independent insurance agents, who testified in support of the change to the law, often face this same question from their policy holders.
This confusing and misleading aspect of auto insurance law will change on July 1, 2023. After that date, the credit or setoff given against an injured party’s underinsurance coverage limits for the available liability limits of the at-fault driver is eliminated. So again, using the example above, under the new law, the injured party would have a total of $125k available in compensation for their injuries.
Given our experience representing those seriously injured in crashes, this change in the law will significantly benefit our future clients as we seek the financial compensation to which each is entitled to help them rebuild their lives with dignity. Here is a link for those interested in reading more about the bill (SB 754) https://leg1.state.va.us/cgi-bin/legp504.exe?221+sum+SB754. As always, if you have any questions about Virginia automobile insurance law, call or text us anytime at 703-836-3366 or email me.
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