Many drivers are unaware of what an “uninsured motorist policy” or an “underinsured motorist policy” is — even if it’s already part of their insurance policy. (In fact, under the law, any Virginia auto insurance policy has to contain a certain level of uninsured motorist coverage.)
An uninsured motorist policy provides you with insurance coverage in the event that you are hit by a driver who (1) cannot be identified (a hit-and-run) or (2) was not carrying insurance coverage (which is illegal, but happens sometimes). An underinsured motorist policy provides you with insurance coverage in the event that you are hit by a person who causes you so much harm, that the wrongdoer’s insurance coverage can’t fully compensate you.
The amount of your coverage depends upon how large a policy you purchased ahead of time. Generally, your uninsured motorist coverage is equal to your underinsured motorist coverage. For example, you might purchase a policy that provides $100,000 of both uninsured and underinsured motorist coverage. Thus, if you are hit by an unidentified or uninsured motorist, you can claim up to $100,000 against your own insurance company. If you are hit by a person with a $30,000 auto liability policy, but your damages are greater than that, your policy will provide up to $70,000 in extra coverage (because $30,000 plus $70,000 equals $100,000).
Of course, just because your insurance company is supposed to treat you fairly, doesn’t mean it will. Very often we file lawsuits on behalf of our clients, against their own insurance companies, because they are refusing to pay a fair amount of money under their own uninsured or underinsured motorist policies. From our experience, an insurance company doesn’t like paying money any time — even to the people it is supposed to protect.
If you have been in an automobile collision and have questions about whether you are entitled to compensation under your own insurance policy, you should contact the Northern Virginia personal injury attorneys at Chaikin, Sherman, Cammarata & Siegel, P.C.