Under Insured Motorist coverage (UIM) allows a driver to access benefits from their own automobile insurance policy when an accident is caused by a driver without sufficient policy limits to cover all of the damage they cause.
In Maryland and Virginia, you cannot make a UIM claim until the liability insurance company offers its entire policy limits to settle your case. The other commonality between Maryland and Virginia is that after the policy limits are offered, the UIM carrier, your insurance company, has to make a decision on whether to waive subrogation. Waiving subrogation means that you can collect the policy limits from the liability carrier and still pursue the UIM claim against your own policy. But that is where the similarities end.
Maryland UIM claims are much more efficient. In Maryland, your insurance company has only 60 days to decide if they will waive subrogation. If they waive subrogation you can collect the liability policy and then pursue the UIM claim. If they do not waive subrogation, the process is lengthier but you will still recover the full liability limits plus any residual or overage from your own policy. If the decision is not made within 60 days, it is assumed waived and you can collect the limits and still pursue the claim.
In Virginia, however, there is no guarantee you will collect the full policy limits. Virginia insurance companies are balking at UIM claims. They are forcing Plaintiffs into lawsuits and unnecessarily trying cases to verdict. There is no limit on the length of time Virginia companies have to decide to waive subrogation. Further, even if they waive subrogation, you cannot collect the liability policy until you purse and close the UIM claim. The reason is, the liability carrier is going to want a Release of all claims against their insured. A Release of full and final settlement cannot be signed if a UIM claim is still open. This means the Virginia insurance companies can thwart your settlement and recovery and can delay your recovery until a trial verdict is received.
Virginia Trial Lawyers have complained for years that this policy is prejudicially unfair to Plaintiffs and increases the costs and expenses to Plaintiffs making their recoveries much less than anticipated and/or needed to fairly and equitably resolve these claims. There is hope for a new system. House Bill 629 has been submitted for consideration to amend this procedure in Virginia. Virginia Trial Lawyers seek to bring Virginia insurance companies into conformity with states like Maryland and allow Plaintiffs to recover from the liability carrier and still pursue their UIM claims.
Keep yourself apprised of the progress of House Bill 629. There is hope that within the next year an agreement can be made that will make House Bill 629 a reality.