WV Car Insurance Coverage: What You Need and Don’t Need
8 Types of Car Insurance Explained
Over 10% of drivers in West Virginia don’t have car insurance, despite the fact that the law requires at least minimal car insurance coverage on all vehicles. However, there are so many different types of coverages, plans, and options that it’s sometimes difficult to decide what’s best for you and your family. The information below is aimed at helping you decide which car insurance coverages you need and which ones you may want to pass on.
Liability Insurance Coverage
Liability insurance coverage is one of the most important parts of your car insurance policy. Every state requires all drivers to have a specific amount of liability insurance coverage. Liability insurance helps pay for the other driver’s property damage, economic losses, and bodily injuries if you are found to be “at fault” in a car accident.
However, it’s important to remember your insurer will only pay up to the covered limits provided by your policy. If the injured parties damages are greater than the liability limits on your insurance policy, you could be on the hook for paying those damages out of your pocket.
Covered Limits of Liability Insurance
We mentioned that your insurer will only pay up to the “covered limit” on your policy in the previous section. What does this mean though? Upon choosing your policy you will have options of how much you would like the insurance to cover should you be in an accident. This generally covers two areas, which are:
- Property damage: If you are found legally responsible for an accident property damage coverage will help safeguard your assets. It will also help cover the damage caused to another person’s property or vehicle, to a certain extent.
- Bodily injury: This form of coverage will help pay for injuries sustained by the other party during an accident should you be found legally responsible for the accident. This may be things such as medical expenses, pain and suffering, and lost wages. Your insurance provider will cover bodily injuries up to the amount that you have chosen in your plan.
Who Needs Liability Insurance?
Everyone, and it’s actually a crime, at least in West Virginia, to drive a vehicle without liability insurance.
West Virginia Liability Insurance Coverage Requirements
West Virginia law requires drivers to carry a minimum amount of $25,000/$50,000/$25,000 in liability insurance coverage. This means in the event of an accident, in West Virginia your liability limits for bodily injury must be at least $25,000 per person, with a total maximum of $50,000 per incident. It also covers up to $25,000 for damage to another person’s property should you be found at fault for the car accident. In most cases, if you are sued after a motor vehicle crash, your liability coverage may pay your defense and court costs as well.
Given the high cost of medical care, the minimum insurance coverage is often not enough to cover all of the losses people often suffer in car accidents. Maintaining at least $50,000-$100,000 minimum coverage would protect you better financially and make it more likely that anyone you accidentally injure can get the medical care they need as a result of the crash.
Comprehensive Insurance Coverage
State Farm defines comprehensive coverage as: coverage that pays to repair or replace a covered vehicle that’s stolen or damaged by something other than collision or rolling over. For example, damage caused by fire, wind, hail, flood, theft, vandalism, falling objects, and hitting an animal is covered. For example, let’s say one night a tree falls on your car. Depending upon your plan, the damage to your car may be completely covered by your comprehensive insurance coverage.
Comprehensive insurance coverage is not required in the state of West Virginia, but it is recommended.
What does Comprehensive Coverage Cover?
The details of what your comprehensive coverage entails are dependent upon your selected plan and insurance provider. However, most comprehensive coverage plans cover the following types of non-collision damages to your car:
- Windshield damage
- Contact with animals
- Falling or flying objects
- Damages caused by weather and natural disasters
Comprehensive Coverage Limits and Deductibles
When you select your comprehensive coverage plan there will be a set deductible on your plan. Your deductible is the amount you will have to pay out of pocket before your insurance will start paying. For example, let’s say the tree damage to your car from earlier was $2,000. The deductible on your plan is $300, which means you will be responsible for $300 worth of the damage to your car, and your insurance will pay the remaining $1,700.
It is important to remember that your comprehensive coverage will have a limit. A limit on your comprehensive coverage is the maximum amount your insurance will pay for the damages. This limit is usually the actual cash value of your car before the damage occurred. Remember, the comprehensive deductible and limit are separate from your policy’s collision deductible and limit.
Who Needs Comprehensive Coverage?
Comprehensive coverage is usually important for car owners with newer or more expensive vehicles. For example, if a tree falls on and destroys your new car but you don’t have comprehensive coverage, you would likely lose tens of thousands of dollars.
Collision Insurance Coverage
Collision insurance coverage covers only the damages to your vehicle if you are in an accident with another vehicle or certain objects. This may include repairs and sometimes even full replacement of your covered vehicle. Most collision coverages will cover these damages regardless of who caused the car accident.
Collision insurance is not required in the state of West Virginia, but it may be required under the terms of a vehicle lease or financing agreement. Even though it is not required it is highly recommended.
What is Collision Coverage Cover?
Collision coverage will typically cover damages to your car caused by:
- An accident where your car hits another vehicle
- A collision with certain objects, such as a wall or tree
- A single-car accident that causes your car to roll
Who Should Get Collision Coverage?
There are major benefits to having collision coverage. However, it is not a requirement to have collision coverage on your vehicle in most states. The most important thing to ask yourself when deciding whether or not to get collision coverage is whether you would be able to afford to repair or replace your vehicle if it were damaged or destroyed in an accident. If you answered no, collision coverage may be beneficial for you.
Another important consideration is how much is your vehicle worth? If it’s only worth a few thousand dollars, you may want to compare this worth with how much it would cost you each month to purchase collision coverage.
Uninsured/Underinsured Motorist Insurance Coverage — The Most Important Coverage to Protect You
An uninsured driver is a driver who has no liability insurance. Whereas, an underinsured driver is one who has insurance but not enough to cover the injuries and damages they may have caused in a motor vehicle crash. Getting in an accident with either type of driver can mean a serious financial and physical loss for you.
If someone is uninsured that means they have no insurance that could help pay for any damages you may have suffered. On the other hand, if someone is underinsured, they may be able to pay for a portion of what you have lost. This is where purchasing uninsured and underinsured insurance coverage can help!
What’s the Difference Between Uninsured and Underinsured Coverage?
Both types of coverage are pretty similar as they will both help to ensure you recover the proper amount for what you have lost. However, the difference between the two is that with underinsured coverage the at-fault driver’s liability insurance pays for damages up to the driver’s policy limits. After that, your underinsured coverage will kick in and pay for the rest up to the limits you purchased.
Who Needs Uninsured and/or Underinsured Motor Vehicle Insurance?
At least a minimal amount of uninsured motorist coverage insurance is required by West Virginia law. Underinsured motorist coverage is not required by law, but I recommend this coverage for everyone. That’s because it, along with uninsured motorist coverage, are the coverages that will protect you and your family the most in terms of insuring you get the medical care you need if you’re injured in an accident regardless of how much insurance the other driver has.
Deciding how much uninsured and undersinured insurance to purchase can be a difficult decision, however. The following questions will help you decide what’s best for you:
- Do you live in a state like West Virginia that has a high percentage of underinsured and/or uninsured drivers?
- Can you financially afford the damages your car endures during a wreck with either type of these drivers?
- Can you afford the potential medical bills you may have from being in an accident with either type of these drivers?
- Do you have a large savings account to protect you in the event your injured by an uninsured or underinsured driver?
Bonus Insurance Coverage Information
The insurance coverages we have discussed up to this point are the most commonly bought and offered coverages. However, there are other insurance options you can add to your plan. Some of these extra coverages are:
- Medical Payments Coverage. This coverage gives you and your passengers extra coverage if you are in an accident. It can help pay for most related injuries you may sustain.
- Who Needs it? This coverage is useful if you don’t have health insurance or you have a fairly high deductible.
- Gap Coverage. Gap coverage helps to pay off your auto loan if your car is totaled or stolen and you owe more than it’s depreciated value.
- Towing and Labor Cost Coverage. This coverage helps cover expenses should your car breakdown and you have to have roadside assistance.
- Rental Reimbursement Coverage. Should you have to ever get a rental car or take public transportation while your car is being repaired, this coverage can help cover those costs.
Get a Free Consultation From an Experienced West Virginia Car Accident Lawyer
We know that picking an insurance plan is a big decision. So, we hope the above helps make the process of understanding and choosing an insurance plan easier for you.
Also, if you or a loved one are injured in an accident, at work, or because of negligence, we invite you to call us for a Free Consultation today. West Law Firm knows how to deal with big insurance companies and can help you get the most compensation possible. You can call us toll-free today at 1-877-943-9378. There’s also no fee unless and until you recover compensation.
West Law Firm is located in Charleston, West Virginia and we serve clients throughout the state and country who have been hurt in WV. If it’s more convenient for you, we’ll come to you!
Brooks West is a West Virginia personal injury lawyer who helps people who have been injured by negligence or wrongful conduct. He is the President and founder of West Law Firm and has been an attorney since 2005. Brooks is a Multi-Million Dollar Advocates Forum member and has been awarded the AV Preeminent Rating from Martindale-Hubbell.