Author: J. David “Dave” Douthit, Esq., Richmond, VA Personal Injury Trial Lawyer
There are a number of circumstances in which a person might want or need to use their own coverage after a car accident, even if someone else is at fault for causing the accident. For example, a person might want to use their own collision coverage for medical expense coverage. Or if the at fault driver is uninsured or underinsured, a person might need to use the uninsured or underinsured coverage on their own policy. It’s also possible that an injured person might need to make one or more of these claims using the coverage provided by an insurance policy belonging to a relative who is a resident of the injured person’s household.
A person who needs to use their own coverage (or a relative’s coverage) frequently is concerned that using the coverage will result in an increase in his or her rates. Unless the person making the claim is wholly or partially at fault in causing the underlying accident, Virginia law prohibits an insurance company from raising the rate charged for the coverage being accessed. Virginia law also requires an insurance company that raises a person’s rates because of an accident must notify the person in writing so that the person knows why his or her rates are being raised, and has the opportunity to appeal the insurer’s decision if he or she feels it is not justified.
 Va. Code § 38.2-1905. Motor vehicle insurer not to charge points or increase premiums in certain instances. No insurer may increase its insured's premium or may charge points under a safe driver insurance plan to its insured as a result of a motor vehicle accident unless the accident was caused either wholly or partially by the named insured, a resident of the same household, or other customary operator. No insurer may increase its insured's premium or may charge points to its insured where the operator causing the accident is a principal operator insured under a separate policy. Any insurer increasing a premium or charging points as a result of a motor vehicle accident shall notify the named insured in writing and in the same notification shall inform the named insured that he may appeal the decision of the insurer to the Commissioner if he feels his premium has increased or he has been charged points as a result of a motor vehicle accident without just cause.