Technically Virginia does not require car insurance. The reality is that you can be charged criminally if you do not have at least the minimum insurance or the equivalent.
Liability insurance minimums required by law in Virginia are:
Twenty-five thousand dollars for bodily injury or death of one person in any one accident, Va. Code 46.2-472(3);
Fifty thousand dollars for bodily injury or death of two or more persons in one accident, not to exceed twenty-five thousand dollars for bodily injury or death of one person in any one accident, Va. Code 46.2-472(3);
Twenty thousand dollars for injury to or harm to property of others in one accident, Va. Code 46.2-472(3).
This is called the minimum insurance or 25/50/20 insurance. This is the smallest insurance policy an insurance company in Virginia can sell. Automobile insurance laws in Virginia require the owner of a vehicle to have at least the 25/50/20 liability insurance on the vehicle or to deliver to the Division of Motor Vehicles a bond or cash or securities in lieu of the insurance; or to qualify as a self-insurer in accordance with the provisions of Virginia Code 46.2-368.
If the vehicle is uninsured, the motor vehicle owner is required to pay to DMV a $500 uninsured motor vehicle fee in addition to normal registration fees. Payment of the $500 fee does not provide the motorist with any insurance coverage. If involved in an accident, the uninsured motorist remains personally liable. This fee is valid for twelve months but maybe prorated for a shorter amount of time. Be smart. Protect yourself and others with insurance.
There are two categories of auto insurance – first party coverage and third party coverage. First party coverage covers you and your property (such as medical expenses, damage to your vehicle, and includes the insurance company’s duty to defend you in the event that you are sued as the result of your operation of a vehicle, etc.) Third party coverage is for your responsibility to pay for injury caused to other people (and vice versa), whether in your vehicle, or another vehicle involved in the accident. The coverage and its exclusions are set forth in your insurance policy. In exchange for the payment of a premium, the insurance company promises to provide compensation in the event of certain occurrences.
Suppose the other driver has NO insurance? If you have automobile insurance you automatically have Uninsured/Underinsured Motorists coverage. The uninsured motorist coverage (UM) will pay for your damages in the event that the driver that caused the accident did not have insurance. Your uninsured motorist coverage (UM) will also pay for your damages in the event that the driver that caused the accident was a hit and run driver who cannot be found.
Suppose the other driver does not have ENOUGH insurance? The underinsured coverage (UIM) will pay for your damages in the event that the other driver had liability coverage limits lower than that of your own policy and assuming that your damages are greater than the amount of liability coverage held by the at-fault driver.
As an example, suppose your injuries entitle you to recover $100,000, that the at-fault driver had only a $25,000 policy, and that you had $100,000 policy. In this example, the at-fault driver’s insurance company will pay $25,000 and your insurance company will pay you $75,000 for your total of $100,000. Your insurance company can then try to get its $75,000 back from the at-fault driver. It is better for you that your insurance company is trying to get its $75,000 back from the at-fault driver than for you to try to collect $75,000 from the at-fault driver. This UM/UIM coverage will even apply when you are a passenger in someone else’s vehicle.
A full recitation of insurance coverage and laws would occupy several large text volumes, hopefully this report made you a more informed consumer when it comes to insurance and personal injury law. An experienced personal injury attorney can guide you through the process and can represent your interests, whether against an insurance company or in front of a jury.