Virginia’s Minimum Auto Insurance Coverage Rises
Virginia’s minimum auto insurance coverage has risen and that’s good news for anyone who ends up injured in a car, truck, or motorcycle accident in the Commonwealth. The new limits became law in July after remaining static for decades. Potomac Local News reported earlier this year how Senator Scott Surovell authored SB 1182. Virginia’s insurance minimum coverage remained unchanged since Surovell was 4 years old in 1975, the publication reported. They constitute the lowest level of insurance that is required to drive a car. While healthcare costs associated with auto accidents have skyrocketed in more than four decades, the minimum insurance coverage has remained unchanged.
What are the New Auto Insurance Minimums?
“This update to the current minimum limits is long overdue given the increase in the cost of health care, wages, and the value of automobiles over the last 45 years,” Surovell said in a statement. “The state with the highest minimums, Maine, has the lowest number of uninsured drivers in America. The state with the lowest minimums, Florida, has the highest number of uninsured drivers. The data would tend to show that the higher minimum policy you have, the fewer people go without insurance so it actually has a positive effect.”
The new legislation increases minimum car insurance coverage amounts from $25,000 to $30,000 in cases of bodily injury or death of one person, from $50,000 to $60,000 in cases of bodily injury to or death of multiple people in a single accident, and from $20,000 to $25,000 for property damage coverage. In 2024, the minimums will rise to $50,000, $100,000, and $40,000 respectively.
Many people didn’t pay attention to minimum insurance limits. However, they often got a shock when they were hit and hurt by drivers on minimal insurance and could only claim $30,000, a figure unlikely to cover their medical bills.
SB 1108 also increased from $25,000 to $50,000 the maximum civil jurisdictional limit of general district courts for civil actions for personal injury and wrongful death. The bill also reinstates the appeal bond posting requirement for defendants who were covered under an indemnity policy of coverage, albeit only to the extent of the judgment that is covered by such policy. According to the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV), the change will cost the average Virginian who has this policy about $5 more per month, Potomac Local News reported.
Importance of New Auto Coverage Minimums
We welcome the news that Virginia’s minimum auto insurance coverage has risen. It is a long-overdue change. July 1 brought a slew of new laws that will have an impact on driving in Virginia. Cyclists won new protections under a law that will require drivers to change lanes if they can’t maintain a distance of at least three feet when passing rides – even if that means moving over double-yellow lines. Cyclists are now allowed to ride two abreast on highways, a practice outlawed before July 1.
We welcome these additional protections for the most vulnerable of road users. The legalization of small quantities of marijuana from July 1 has raised questions about driving after taking cannabis. Although simple possession and home cultivation of marijuana for personal use is now legal in Virginia, the state law prohibits drivers or passengers from consuming the drug while a vehicle is being driven.
The new law has many caveats and it’s confusing. Police lack a roadside test to establish if a driver is under the influence of pot. Under the new law, marijuana use in a car can be presumed if an “open container” is found within the passenger area or on the driver or conduct and speech “is consistent with the consumption of marijuana or marijuana products.” Given some evidence of a rise in drugged driving crashes in states that legalized small quantities of marijuana in the past like Colorado, we remain concerned about the potential impact of this drug on the highways of Virginia. If you have been hit and hurt in a car wreck please contact our Virginia car accident lawyers as soon as possible.