Why do you need to see my auto insurance policy?

Author: Melinda H. South, Richmond Personal Injury Lawyer

In the wake of an auto collision, when a person is injured, it can be overwhelming with the mountains of paperwork generated by the medical providers, health insurance carriers and auto insurance companies. Understandably, new clients often have lots of questions about their claim and the process required to resolve it. One of the most frequent questions these new clients ask is: why do you need to see my auto insurance policy?

A person who is injured through no fault of their own can reasonably expect the at fault driver’s insurance company to compensate them for their claim. The insurance company for the at-fault driver is first in line to pay for claims arising out of the collision. Unfortunately, if insurance information is exchanged at the scene of an accident or collected by responding law enforcement officers, the only information provided is the name of the insurance company. The amount of the available insurance coverage remains unknown. While you may know who is responsible for paying, the equally important question of how much money there is available to make that payment remains unanswered.

Calculating the total amount of insurance coverage available for payment is imperative in any personal injury claim. In Virginia, motorists are not required to purchase liability insurance. Instead, drivers can pay an uninsured motorist protection fee through the Department of Motor Vehicles.[1] Assuming that the other motorist has an applicable insurance policy, Virginia law only requires limits of $25,000 per person and $50,000 per accident.[2] Policies can lapse for nonpayment of premiums and there are exclusions in every auto insurance policy that withhold coverage for a variety of reasons.

Every insurance policy issued in Virginia is required to provide uninsured or underinsured motorist protection to the policyholder.[3] The limits of that coverage match the liability limits on the policy unless the named insured has elected to reduce those limits in writing. This means that if the at-fault driver’s policy denies coverage or if the coverage is insufficient to cover the physical harm caused, your auto policy limits may be available for payment. . In addition, medical payments benefits may be available under your automobile policy to provide additional compensation.

While it is imperative to obtain the at-fault driver’s insurance information after an automobile collision, it can be equally important to identify the additional protections afforded under your own policy to ensure full recovery is made. Collecting this information doesn’t mean that a claim will be filed with your carrier, it simply provides assurance that once a claim is made against the at-fault driver there will be sufficient funds available for payment.

About the Author: Melinda South is an attorney with Allen & Allen. Melinda works out of the Richmond office as a legal researcher and assists in the preparation of firm briefs and legal memoranda.


[1] https://leg1.state.va.us/cgi-bin/legp504.exe?000+cod+46.2-706

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