Your auto insurance carrier, like USAA, may have sent you a letter recently about a change in Virginia law that will “increase your premiums” unless you fill out and return an underinsured motorist (UM) Coverage Selection form or something similar. These letters that insurance companies are sending sound like they are trying to help you save money, but in reality, they are trying to get you to lower your coverage or pay more for your current coverage.
Let me explain…
As we have discussed before, starting July 1, 2023, the full amount of your underinsured motorist coverage will be available to you if you are injured in a car accident. Previously, your UM coverage would be reduced by the amount of coverage that the at-fault driver had. This led to consumers not receiving the full amount of the coverage that they paid for and led to those that were injured due to no fault of their own receiving inadequate compensation for those injuries.
This law change is great news for consumers, and we encourage everyone to consider maintaining your current coverage even if it means a higher premium. To understand the benefit of this new law, lets look at an example:
John is texting while driving and rear-ends Sarah at a red light. Sarah suffers a broken wrist as a result of the car crash. John has $100,000 in liability limits. Sarah also has $100,000 in underinsured motorist coverage.
Under previous law: Sarah’s total recovery is $100,000. She will receive the policy limits of $100,000 from John’s liability coverage. She is unable to receive any compensation from her underinsured motorist coverage as the underinsured motorist coverage is offset by the liability coverage from John. Sarah clearly is not fully and fairly compensated for her injuries.
Under the new law: Sarah’s total recovery is $200,000. She will receive the policy limits of $100,000 from John’s liability coverage and she will receive the policy limits of $100,000 from her own underinsured motorist coverage. As you can see, Sarah is able to collect the full coverage that she has paid for.
You can see now why insurance companies were not happy with this change and are trying to encourage individuals to take on lower coverage. Unfortunately, we see firsthand everyday individuals that are injured and are not fairly compensated due to the lack of insurance coverage. It is essential that you protect yourself by carrying substantial underinsured motorist coverage and by opting in to the new Virginia law that allows you to access the full amount of coverage that you have purchased.
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