Knowing the Terms in Your Auto Insurance Policy Can Be Important Following a Car Accident

Car Insurance: What Is Required and What Documents Are NeededIn Virginia, you are required to have certain auto insurance coverages to drive on our state’s roads and highways. Car insurance policies can be complex, and many people purchase them through an insurance adjuster or on an insurance company website. While ideally, you should understand your policy when you buy it, it is critical to know what it means if you are in an auto accident caused by another driver.

Essential Insurance Policy Documents

When you obtain your insurance policy, there are certain standard documents that you should receive. These include the following:

  • Proof of insurance. Your proof of insurance is the small document verifying that you have auto insurance that most people keep in their wallet or glove compartment of their vehicle. It contains basic information like your name and address, the name of your insurance company, vehicle information, and your policy number.
  • Declaration page. The declaration page is a one- to two-page document that summaries the insurance coverages that you have. It will also have the dollar amount of each type of coverage that you purchased.
  • Insurance contract. The insurance policy is a detailed contract that explains what is and is not covered under each type of coverage that you have. Your attorney will want to review your policy and declaration page to determine what insurance coverage you may have, if needed, to fully compensate you for your injuries.

Types of Required and Optional Coverages in Your Insurance Policy

Your insurance policy may provide for both the required coverages that you must have under Virginia law and optional coverages that you may have purchased. Here are some of the terms used to describe these coverages so that you understand them:

  • Bodily injury (BI). Under Virginia law, you are required to have $25,000 per person and $50,000 per accident in BI coverage to pay for any injuries you caused in the collision. You have the option of purchasing additional coverage, and it is best to do so to protect yourself if you are the at-fault driver.
  • Property damage (PD). This type of insurance is also required. You must have a minimum of $20,000 in PD coverage to pay for damage to any vehicles or property you cause in a crash.
  • Uninsured/Underinsured Motorist Bodily Injury (UM/UIMBI). You are required to purchase 25,000 per person and 50,000 per accident in uninsured and underinsured bodily injury coverage to protect you if the negligent driver has no or too little insurance to compensate you for your injuries. As with BI coverage, you should consider purchasing additional UM/UIMBI coverage.
  • Uninsured/Underinsured Motorist Property Damage (UM/UMPD). You are required to have $20,000 in this coverage in case the other driver does not have insurance or not enough insurance to reimburse you for your property damages.
  • Collision and comprehensive. Collision and comprehensive coverages are optional and protect against property damage in a wreck. Collision coverage pays for property damage caused in an accident, and comprehensive pays for damage not caused by a crash, such as due to fire and theft.
  • Medical payments (MedPay). This is an optional coverage that pays for your medical bills up to the policy limits you purchased no matter who was at fault in causing your wreck.
  • Lost income benefits. Under Virginia law, insurance companies are required to offer lost income benefits of up to $100 per week for 52 weeks, or $5,200, to replace lost wages if you cannot work due to your injuries.

At Tavss Fletcher, we understand the importance of pursuing all avenues of compensation—including under your own insurance policy—if you suffer injuries in a car accident to ensure that you receive all that you deserve. To learn more about your legal options and how we can help, call our office to schedule your free consultation.


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