There are two provisions of an insurance policy that are often not fully understood by clients when they are in an accident. These are the provisions of med-pay and the rules on property damage.
Most insurance policies in Virginia include coverage for medical payments for injuries suffered in an accident. This is a benefit you receive whether the accident is your fault or the fault of someone else. The amount of coverage varies with the policy. The coverage varies from $500 to $5000 per person per accident depending on how much coverage was purchased in the policy. However, the total coverage available for an accident can be multiplied by the number of vehicles covered by the policy. It is important to know that a claim for med-pay must be made within one year of the accident. Payment of this coverage does not affect your premium. It is not treated as a loss claim against your policy. You may collect med-pay even if the accident is your fault. It is simply protection you purchase to protect you and your family while riding in vehicles you own. If you are in an accident, check your policy to see how much med-pay is available to you. In many cases you will need to ask for your med-pay. Many companies and agents do not tell their customers that this coverage is available under their policy. It is another way the insurance industry tries to save money. This is not true for all, but you cannot depend on the company’s adjuster or your personal agent to advise you on med-pay coverage. One of the things we do as a service for our clients is to process and collect the full amount of med-pay they are entitled to under their policy. This is part of the service we provide at no additional charge. We will gather the medical bills and the supporting documentation needed by the insurance company to pay the money owed to our clients under their policy.
One of the most traumatic issues of an accident, other than serious injury, is the loss of the trusted vehicle you own. Often the vehicle has been a good serviceable and reliable source of transportation. You may have just spent a significant sum to repair the vehicle. Then in an instant it is a total loss. What are your rights? Virginia law is clear. The insurance company is only required to pay the lesser of the cost of repair or the fair market value of the vehicle at the time of the loss. No More!! On the total loss this is most often not enough to replace the vehicle. The car is paid off and now you are faced with a note, or worse, you feel you can’t afford a replacement vehicle, even a used one. It seems unfair but that is the law.
The other side of the coin is if you have a new vehicle and there is substantial damage. That can be equally traumatic. Your new car, your pride and joy, is now a crumpled mess. You can’t imagine how you could ever drive that car again. The carrier says they will not declare the vehicle a total loss. You want the car totaled and the insurance company to buy you a new one. Under Virginia law the insurance company can dictate that it will only pay to fix the car and not declare it a total loss. But if the company decides to follow that path, then it is also required by law to pay for the diminution in value after the repair has been completed. This is important to consider. Under Virginia law you are required to disclose that the vehicle has been damaged if the repair costs are over $500. This is true whether you sell it yourself or trade it in to a dealership for a new vehicle.Under most policies in Virginia you are also entitled to a rental car. If the accident is not your fault then the guilty person’s insurance company is required to pay. The insurance company must pay until your car is repaired. If the car is a total loss then it only pays for a reasonable time following a determination that the car is a total loss. This is usually 10 to 14 days.