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Virginia Car Insurance Coverage

Whether you're purchasing car insurance coverage in Virginia for the first time or you're looking to renew, it's easy to find yourself overwhelmed by the amount of information that's available. Though it may be confusing at first, car insurance coverage in Virginia is actually simple and straightforward, and understanding how things work in the state will help you get the best deal possible on your coverage.

What Does Car Insurance in Virginia Cover?

There are several different kids of automobile insurance available in Virginia, and each of these offers somewhat different coverage. However, there are a few general things that you should know about vehicle insurance coverage in the state before you examine the individual types of coverage available.

In Virginia, all automobile insurance polices cover not only you, but anyone else who drives your vehicle with your permission. Thus, you can can feel safe lending your car to friends or family because, even if something bad happens, all damages will be paid for according to the terms of your individual insurance policy. However, if an insurance company suspects any sort of fraud, they will take legal action against you.

In addition, all car insurance polices sold in VA, unless otherwise noted, will cover you as long as you are driving within the United States of America. If you wise to drive overseas or in Mexico or Canada, you will need to discuss the situation with your insurance company to see what they will cover. However, if you take your vehicle on vacation with you and remain within the boundaries of the USA, you will be covered according to your policy for any damage you cause or sustain.

When Do I Need Car Insurance Coverage?

Virginia has a financial responsibility law, which states that every driver must assume financial responsibility for any damage he causes as a result of driving. You can do this by purchasing vehicle insurance, paying a regular Uninsured Motorist Fee, or showing evidence of self-insurance or surety bonds according to the state's laws. The most common way of doing this is to purchase vehicle insurance.

You will need car insurance when you purchase a new vehicle. In order to receive license plates for your car, you will need to show evidence of having car insurance for that car. Even if you do not plan to drive the new vehicle immediately, you may want to purchase some comprehensive coverage beforehand, as that will ensure that damage to the vehicle is covered if it is stolen, vandalized, or impacted by an act of God before you drive it.

If you are purchasing a new vehicle to replace a vehicle for which you already have car insurance coverage, your new car will be covered by the old policy for the term of that policy. You will probably want to notify your insurance company anyway, though, to make any changes to the policy that the new vehicle necessitates. If your new vehicle is an addition to your policy, many car insurance companies will offer you automatic coverage for a limited time, like 30 days. During that time, you must notify them of your new vehicle and make any policy arrangements that are necessary.

What Kinds of Car Insurance Can I Get?

When you're looking at Virginia car insurance, you'll notice that there are a lot of types of coverage available. For most of these, you are permitted under the law to purchase whatever coverage suits you best. However, a couple kinds of insurance are required by the state in order to register a vehicle and maintain a driver's license in VA.

The first required kind of car insurance is bodily injury liability coverage, which provides for the medical bills, lost wages, and other damages that come from an injury in an accident. The coverage itself is not for you and your family, but for those hurt as a result of an accident you cause.

Property damage liability is also required. This is similar to bodily injury liability coverage in that it covers damages sustained by someone who is a victim in an accident you cause. However, it is different in that it pertains specifically to property damage and not to bodily injury.

Virginia also requires that you carry minimal amounts of uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage. This type of car insurance covers your damages if you are the victim in an accident cause by someone who does not have insurance or does not have enough insurance to pay all of your damages.

Beyond these types of required automobile insurance, most insurance companies in Virginia offer several other kinds of coverage, as well. The first of these is physical damage coverage, which covers any damage done to your car. Physical damage coverage comes in two types: collision and comprehensive.

Collision coverage pays for any damage that your vehicle sustains in a car accident. Most collision policies will pay whether the accident is your fault or not, though if it is not your fault the other driver's property damage liability policy must pay first. This is good coverage to have if you use your vehicle a lot and would need it in working order as soon after an accident as possible.

Comprehensive coverage pays for any damage done to your vehicle in other ways. It usually covers damage caused by acts of God, vehicle theft, vandalism, and even acts of terrorism. However, the individual policy can have exclusions, so check with your insurance company before you assume your vehicle will be covered.

While not required by the state of Virginia, physical damage coverage is usually required if you are leasing a vehicle or have acquired financing to pay for it. The companies that own the vehicle want to make sure that their interests in the vehicle are covered, and so will require you to carry collision and comprehensive policies in certain amounts. If you do not purchase this required coverage on your own, the lending or leasing company can acquire insurance that covers their interests only and bill you for it. This is called forced place insurance, and does not meet any of the car insurance requirements that Virginia has in place.

Other types of car insurance available, though less common, in VA are medical benefits coverage, loss of income coverage, loss of use coverage, and rental reimbursement coverage. While each of these has it's place in the automobile insurance world, most pertain to specific situations. If you find yourself wanting more coverage or wondering if it would be right for you, talk to your insurance company.

Finally, if you are unable to secure coverage through a private company, you will need to get insurance through the Virginia Automobile Insurance Plan. While you may pay more for this coverage, at least you will be able to drive legally in the state.

At this point, you should have all the basic information you need about automobile insurance coverage in Virginia including what's covered, when you need to purchase coverage, and what kinds of coverage are available. Armed with this knowledge, you are in a position to make the most intelligent, informed decisions about car insurance coverage for you and your family, and to get the best prices possible.



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