The owner of an automobile or other motor vehicle faces a complicated and often confusing array of choices concerning the purchase of auto insurance coverage. Television and other advertisements which encourage purchasing automobile insurance over the internet compare only prices without any discussion of the coverage limits provided at that cost. Accordingly, decisions about motor vehicle insurance coverage are often made in a hurry, with an eye only towards the price of the coverage and without any real understanding of the risks which arise from making the wrong decision when it comes to coverage limits.
Selecting the limits of your auto insurance coverage and what those limits mean for you in the event of a claim is a very important decision that should not be made in haste. Taking the time to understand your auto insurance coverage limits and how they will work in the aftermath of an accident could turn out to be one of the most important decisions of your life.
The minimum amount of liability coverage required to get a vehicle “on the road” in Virginia is a $25,000/$50,000 policy. This minimum coverage is undoubtedly the cheapest option. Purchasing a $25,000/$50,000 policy means that a claim against a driver of the covered vehicle results in protection of only $25,000 for the death or injury of any one person and total coverage of $50,000 for any single accident no matter how many people are injured or killed. These minimum limits have been in place for many years while medical costs and other expenses for the treatment and consequences of injuries have skyrocketed. Put bluntly, the legal minimum liability coverage is way below what is needed for adequate protection in the event of a serious accident. Any driver who fails to recognize the risks of having too little insurance coverage is “playing with fire” and threatening his or her financial future.
What should an insurance consumer do to address the confusion? Here are some basic suggestions to follow:
- Obtain an understanding of the coverages available in a motor vehicle insurance policy: liability coverage for death and bodily injury and for property damage; collision and comprehensive coverages; medical expense and loss of income benefits; and uninsured and underinsurance coverage for death and bodily injury and for property damage;
- Meet with a reputable insurance agent and go over the available coverages to understand the amounts and types of coverages which best suit your needs and ability to pay;
- Never buy insurance over the internet unless you have a complete understanding of the risks of your decisions and have learned sufficient information concerning the available coverage limits you have selected;
- Understand the risks of what you will face if you are involved in an accident and have too little coverage. NEVER BUY INSURANCE BASED SOLELY ON WHAT IS THE CHEAPEST COVERAGE AVAILABLE. If you do so, you are being “penny wise” and “pound foolish.”
All too often people who have been involved in a motor vehicle accident find out that they did not have adequate insurance coverage to protect them. They failed to realize that their hasty or ill-informed decisions about insurance coverage would cost them dearly. When selecting auto insurance, follow the steps above, be an informed consumer, and avoid the heartache of 20/20 hindsight.
About the Author: Jack Berry is the managing partner and personal injury lawyer of Allen & Allen‘s Charlottesville, VA office. He has practiced law as a trial attorney in Central Virginia for almost 30 years. He is dedicated to protecting the rights of his clients in all areas of personal injury law including car crashes, truck accidents, defective products, wrongful death and brain injury cases.