It’s common knowledge, and common sense, that having car insurance is a good idea. It’s less well-known, however, that car insurance isn’t actually legally required in all states or situations. There are legally mandated minimum amounts of different types of car insurance required in almost all fifty states. New Hampshire and Virginia are two notable exceptions. In Virginia, this means that if you choose to pay a yearly Uninsured Motorist Fee of $500, you are legally allowed to operate your vehicle without car insurance.
But should you choose to? Just because skipping insurance is legal in this case doesn’t necessarily mean you should. When it comes to car insurance, it’s probably in your best interest to go above and beyond the letter of the law.
If you’re on the fence between choosing to pay for car insurance or an Uninsured Motorist Fee, read on! We’ll go through the advantages and disadvantages of each option, as well as explain exactly how the Uninsured Motorist Fee works so you can make an informed decision.
What different types of car insurance might be required?
First of all, let’s go through the different types of car insurance that might generally be required or recommended. This way, you can learn what’s covered and what’s not, decide what types of insurance you might want, or decide whether you’re willing to go without.
Commonly required types of car insurance include:
Bodily Injury Liability Insurance
This type of insurance comes into play if you injure someone else in a car accident. It will pay for the injured party’s medical bills so that you won’t have to.
Personal Injury Protection
This type of insurance pays for your medical bills should you be injured in an accident. It will cover your passengers’ medical bills if they are injured as well.
Property Damage Liability Insurance
Where bodily injury liability insurance covers the costs of an injured party’s medical bills, property damage liability insurance covers the costs to repair any of their property that you damaged in an accident. So, if you cause an accident and total someone’s car, this type of insurance will help foot the bill.
Uninsured Motorist Insurance
Uninsured motorist insurance covers your expenses if you’re in an accident caused by a driver without car insurance.
Collision coverage pays for damage to your vehicle after a car accident, no matter if you or the other driver caused the crash.
This type of insurance coverage covers damage to your car that occurs when you aren’t behind the wheel. So, if someone backs into your parked car or a tree branch takes out your windshield in a storm, comprehensive coverage will pay for the repairs.
Almost all US states require a minimum amount of some or all of the types of car insurance listed in this section. Even if you live in New Hampshire or Virginia, where none of these types of insurance are legally required, for most people it’s better to be safe than sorry. While everyone hopes they’ll never be in an accident, much less be the cause of one, these things can happen to anyone. It’s better to be protected if it happens to you.
How does an Uninsured Motorist Fee work?
If you don’t think you need any of the types of car insurance listed above (though even if you’re the best driver in the world, it’s hard to believe you don’t!), you might be looking into how exactly an Uninsured Motorist Fee works.
The most important thing to bear in mind about Virginia’s $500 Uninsured Motorist Fee is that that $500 might not be all you have to pay. Choosing to pay this fee means that you acknowledge all the potential risks of driving without insurance AND that you accept financial responsibility for any costs incurred due to an accident. So, even if you’ve paid your $500, you’re still on the hook for what could end up being huge sums of money.
If you don’t pay the Uninsured Motorist Fee and choose to drive without insurance anyway, you could be found guilty of a Class 3 misdemeanor, lose your driving privileges, have your registration and plates suspended, and be subject to higher future insurance premiums and points on your driving record.
If you choose to pay the Uninsured Motorist Fee and drive without insurance, you might end up having to pay for:
Having to pay for your own hospital bills can be bad enough. If you choose to drive without insurance, you may have to cover the medical costs for your passengers as well. What’s more, if you are found to have caused an accident and somebody in the other car was injured, you could have to pay for their medical expenses, too.
With insurance, your Personal Injury Protection and Bodily Injury Liability insurance would help cover these costs.
Most motorists tend to look for ways to save money on even the most routine car maintenance: no driver wants to be stuck with a pricey repair bill for a totaled car!
However, if you choose to drive without insurance, that’s exactly what might happen. Since you don’t have collision coverage, you’ll have to foot the bill to fix your ride yourself. That, or you might be stuck carpooling to work until you can scrape together the cash. And, without Property Damage Liability insurance, you’ll end up having to pay for the other driver’s damaged car as well.
What happens if you get into an accident and neither you nor the other driver has car insurance?
In short, nothing good. If you get into a car crash without insurance, that’s bad enough. If the other driver is also uninsured, that’s even worse. Without insurance companies to sort things out on your behalf, you and the other driver could end up in a lengthy legal battle to hash out who has to pay for what. So now in addition to the hefty cost of any injuries or repairs, you’ll have to spend your valuable time and money on legal fees and appearances. If there’s a textbook definition of a lose-lose situation, this might be it.
Now, as an insurance company, we might be just a little bit biased, but we think car insurance is always a great idea. After reading this post, we hope you do too!
The way we see it, just because the state of Virginia doesn’t legally require you to have car insurance doesn’t mean you shouldn’t. If something seems too good to be true, it probably is — this is usually the case with the Uninsured Motorist Fee. Paying this $500 isn’t the low-cost, get-out-of-jail-free card it might appear to be. At best, it’s like using duct tape to hold parts of your car together: it might seem like a thrifty, creative fix in the moment, but it’s probably going to cost you big time in the long run.
If you do want car insurance but aren’t sure what kind and how much you need, you’re not alone. Car insurance is confusing, but we’re here to help demystify the process. With just a few questions about your individual needs, we can provide a recommendation for the type of policy that’s right for you.
Get a quote today and let us help you get the car insurance coverage you need!