Uninsured Motorist Coverage in Virginia: Do You Need It?

Virginia requires some uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage if you choose to buy insurance, but is it enough to protect you after an accident?
Written by Cassandra Hamilton
Reviewed by Kathleen Flear
might not require drivers to purchase any car insurance, but drivers who do opt for coverage must also purchase uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage. 
Virginia is one of the two states that doesn’t require drivers to carry
car insurance
. Because of this law, you run the risk of getting into an accident with someone who doesn’t carry any insurance. Thank goodness for uninsured motorist insurance on your existing policy—it’ll help you avoid astronomical out-of-pocket medical costs after a car accident. 
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Do you need uninsured motorist coverage in Virginia?

Uninsured motorist coverage
is required if you purchase car insurance under
Virginia car insurance law
When you look at the most recent information available from the
Insurance Information Institute
, Virginia doesn’t do too badly when it comes to the number of uninsured drivers out there—roughly 10.5% of all drivers are uninsured, and the state ranks 31st in the nation for uninsured drivers. 
There’s still a chance that a car accident in Virginia could be with an uninsured driver. In fact, you’ve got a one in 10 chance of hitting an uninsured driver. Combine that with the number of drivers who purchase
liability insurance
alone, and you run an even greater risk that you’ll collide with a driver whose insurance won’t cover your costs. 
That’s why it’s smart to purchase uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage. It’s an add-on that’s affordable, and it picks up where the other driver’s liability insurance stops to cover medical expenses after a crash.
Thankfully, UM/UIM is affordable coverage. On average, it costs $50 to $100 per year to add this coverage to your policy, though your individual rates may vary. 

How uninsured motorist insurance works in Virginia

Time for a deeper look. If you do purchase insurance in Virginia, the minimum auto insurance requirements don’t go past $20,000 of
property damage liability
, $25,000 of
bodily injury liability
per person, or $50,000 of bodily injury liability per accident. Property damage liability pays for the other drivers’ repairs after an at-fault accident, and bodily injury liability pays for medical expenses. 
You’ll keep your costs low by sticking to the minimum coverage, but the costs after an accident can stack up quickly. For example, most new cars are worth more than the property damage limit. You could find you owe more than your policy covers in no time. 
Even minor to moderate injuries can end up exceeding the $50,000 threshold set by your policy, especially if multiple people were injured. The cost of a serious injury is much more than the coverage limit set by Virginia law

What’s available?

What are the types of uninsured motorist coverage available in Virginia?
There are two categories for this type of coverage:
  • Uninsured/underinsured motorist bodily injury coverage (UM/UIMBI) covers your medical expenses after an accident with an uninsured or underinsured driver
  • Uninsured/underinsured motorist property damage coverage (UM/UIMPD) takes care of outstanding property damage bills
What’s especially important here is the UM/UIMPD coverage because the property damage limit on a minimum Virginia policy is only $20,000—as an example to show how this amount goes when replacing a totaled vehicle, a new
Honda Civic
starts at $22,550.
Because costs add up so quickly, it might be a good idea to up your UM/UIMBI coverage. The way the law is written right now, your UIM policy takes a credit when you go to use it, meaning you can only access part of the available insured funds. This law will change on July 1, 2023
Policies that go into effect after that date will allow the injured insured to claim the total amount of insured money available from both their regular policy and their UIM policy—meaning you have access to more cash if you need it when you set your limits higher.

What does it cover?

The UM/UIM bodily injury coverage available in Virginia will cover medical expenses for you and your passengers, but what does that really mean? Sometimes medical expenses go beyond ER bills and surgery costs. In these cases, UM/UIM also covers:
  • Future medical expenses as a result of the accident
  • Lost wages
  • Long-term rehabilitative or nursing care
  • Medical devices (like a wheelchair)
  • Retrofitting a home to accommodate a disability caused by the accident
  • Services you’re no longer able to perform, like yard work and cleaning
  • Pain and suffering (not always)
If you or a loved one are injured
after a car accident
, you don’t want to worry about how to cover the steep medical costs. That’s why UM/UIM coverage is so critical for taking care of all Virginians after an accident. 

How to make a claim 

Any time you’re involved in an accident, you must exchange information with the other drivers who are involved, including insurance information. If it so happens that you or a passenger are injured and the other driver has poor insurance or no insurance at all, you’ll need to file a UM/UIM claim.
This is a straightforward process. You’ll need to contact your insurance company, explain the circumstances, and provide documentation like medical records, traffic crash reports, and bills from your hospital or doctor. Hold on to every document you get—the more you can provide, the easier it will be to evaluate your case
If your costs exceed your UM/UIM insurance, you’ll be responsible for covering the remainder with health insurance or by other means. 

Why it’s a good idea to buy additional uninsured/underinsured motorist insurance in Virginia

Nobody wants to pay extra on their car insurance—for one thing, it’s more expensive than going with the state minimum. While we understand this (Jerry was created to lower car insurance costs after all), it’s important to think about factors beyond short-term expenses. Here’s a quick summary of some of those factors. 

Virginia doesn’t require car insurance

Because Virginia doesn’t require drivers to purchase car insurance, you might assume a ton of drivers are going without—thankfully, that’s not the case. However, there’s still a one in 10 chance you could get into an accident with an uninsured driver. Virginia’s minimum UM/UIM coverage of 25/50/20 might not be enough to cover your expenses if you’re in an accident with an uninsured driver. 
While an obvious route might be a personal injury lawsuit, you should know that beyond the initial free consultation, these suits get expensive quickly. Sometimes you see only a fraction of your payout because of your legal expenses. 

Virginia is #5 in the nation for hit-and-run accidents

If you become the victim of a
hit-and-run accident
, UM/UIM coverage can help. 
Between 2010 and 2019, Virginia had the fifth-highest rate of hit-and-run accidents where the at-fault driver fled the scene. You won’t be able to file a claim with the at-fault party’s insurance if they leave without giving you any information. Insurance doesn’t always cover the costs of a hit-and-run accident. 
In order for your insurance company to pay for damages after a Virginia hit-and-run accident, you’ll need UM/UIM coverage, collision coverage, or
personal injury protection

Up to one in 10 Virginia drivers is uninsured

We can’t stress this enough: you have a one in 10 chance of getting into an accident with an uninsured driver, and the likelihood of getting into an accident with an underinsured driver is even higher. 
While Virginia cities don’t rank nationally for uninsured drivers, don’t assume you’re not at risk of getting into an accident with an uninsured or underinsured driver. 

How to save on uninsured motorist coverage in Virginia

A lot of people opt for the minimum level of UM/UIM coverage in Virginia to save money—but did you know upgrading your policy could cost as little as an extra $100 per year? Spaced out over the whole year, that’s one less trip to Starbucks per month. Your Netflix subscription costs more than protecting yourself from uninsured or underinsured drivers. 
If you’re still worried about the financial cost of upgrading your UM/UIM coverage, why not try the Jerry app?
is a licensed insurance broker who specializes in finding you the best car insurance coverage at the best rate. In as little as 45 seconds, you could be browsing multiple competitive quotes that all save you hundreds every year on car insurance costs—even with a UM/UIM upgrade. 
Hundreds per year? Yep! The specific amount will vary for each driver, but the average Jerry user saves $800 per year or more. That’s enough to reintroduce those Starbies trips! 
“When using
, I just put in a bit of information, and they found lots of different quotes for me. I was paying $305 a month for 2 brand-new cars, but now I’m paying $150 a month for both with full coverage!” —Robin U.
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