What You Should Know About Uninsured Motorist Claims Changes in Virginia

By John Cooper, Virginia Car Accident Lawyer

As a Virginia trial lawyer who specializes in car, truck and motorcycle accidents and insurance claims, I pay close attention to what is going on in the industry which directly affects my clients.

The rule for uninsured motorist coverage claims has changed drastically recently, and the new law will streamline the handling of personal injury litigation in Virginia. 

The gist of the improvement is that when there is a claim against an at-fault driver, and there is coverage available both on the vehicle of the at-fault driver, and also on the vehicle of the car that the injured person was in, we can, under certain circumstances get the money from the first insurance company and give that money to the person who needs it immediately rather than waiting for both parts of the insurance claim to be resolved.

Under the Virginia state code a motorist is uninsured when:

“The total amount of bodily injury and property damage coverage applicable to the operation or use of the motor vehicle and available for payment for such bodily injury or property damage, including all bonds or deposits of money or securities made … is less than the total amount of uninsured motorist coverage afforded any person injured as a result of the operation or use of the vehicle.”

How the UIM Change Can Benefit People Hurt in Car Wrecks

In the old days, in fact for most of the 27 years that I've been practicing personal injury law, Virginia was unlike some other states in that you couldn't take the money from the first insurance carrier under the liability policy until you had reached whatever deal you were going to reach with the second insurer, the underinsured motorist coverage or UIM. 

This was a very cumbersome system because it meant that even though you knew exactly what you were entitled to and it was all agreed with the first insurance carrier, you couldn't do anything good for the client by getting the money into their bank account and away from the insurance company until you had worked out a deal with the second insurance company. 

The old system was illogical and made no sense because it just caused things to be more complicated and slower than they needed to be.  However, change is seldom fast in Virginia.  Luckily, everyone including some insurance companies realized that the old rule had to change.  Now if I have a $100,000.00 offer from the at-fault driver's insurance company, and my case is worth $250,000.00, I can take the first sum while pursuing available UIM coverage from my client's end policy.  If there's some difficulty in reaching an agreement with the UIM carrier, I don't have to wait to disburse the first $100,000.00 even if the case must go all the way to a jury trial which might take a year in the Virginia state courts. 

This new system for streamlining UIM cases will make a big difference for me and the people that I help who have been hurt through no fault of their own in a car, truck or motorcycle accidents. 

It's better for everyone including for the insurance companies because they get to close files and move forward without having to wait around for disputes between other companies and other persons to be resolved before being able to finalize an agreement and release which has been agreed to by the parties.  

UIM insurance is a bit complicated and hard to understand.  Most people have no idea about this aspect of their automobile insurance policy unless they have been in a wreck with serious injuries that included a UIM claim.  Even then, I often have to explain this a couple of times to my clients before they fully grasp what I'm doing and why I'm doing it and how it's to their advantage.  If you ever have a question about anything having to do with a serious personal injury or automobile insurance coverage including UIM, please don't hesitate to give me or one of my fellow attorneys at my firm a call at (757) 455.0077.



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