RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — Virginia drivers could be in for a surprise next time they get their car insurance bill. It’s a result of a change in the law that took effect on July 1.
The new rules change how insurance companies payout claims involving underinsured drivers, allowing you to collect more money if you’re involved in an accident.
Prior to July 1, if you got into a crash that wasn’t your fault with someone who is underinsured, your insurance company could deduct the amount paid by the other driver’s policy from what they would pay.
Tom Brown, founder and CEO of Mega Insurance Center in Richmond, gave an example — with the underinsured at-fault driver having $50,000 in liability coverage and the driver who was hit having $250,000 worth of coverage.
“Going forward, the change is the $50,000 that they had would be added on top of my $250,000. I would essentially have $300,000 of coverage as opposed to 250,” Brown said.
Brown says having the ability to combine the value of both policies gives drivers extra coverage in case of a major accident.
“You think about what can happen if you are in an accident,” Brown said. “God forbid somebody dies. Could be a family in a van where you have multiple injuries, those injuries rack up really fast.”
Brown acknowledges that because insurance companies could be forced to pay out more, premiums are going up slightly. He says you can opt out, but he’s advising his customers not to.
“The difference in premium, literally, is 1.5%,” Brown explained. “On the one that we were looking at today, the total premium for the year was $3200 with the new coverage and if you elected to take the old coverage it was just under $3000.”
Brown says before making any decisions about opting out, drivers should contact their insurance agent.