Virginia State Troopers: Is Your Current Auto Insurance Coverage Really Enough?
Breit Cantor Grana Buckner—August 21, 2019
Given the risks Virginia State Police Troopers (VST) face due to the nature of their job, you might assume that the Commonwealth would have sufficient insurance to protect Troopers in case they are injured by other drivers. Unfortunately, the Commonwealth does not provide Troopers with strong auto insurance coverage. The reality is that the Commonwealth only provides $25,000 in coverage on Virginia State Police vehicles to protect Troopers from uninsured or underinsured motorists.
This means if a Trooper is struck by a driver who has no insurance, and suffers significant injuries, the maximum they could recover from the auto insurance policy that applies to the Virginia State Police vehicle is only $25,000. Virginia State Troopers need to protect themselves by making sure they have sufficient coverage on their own personal auto insurance policies.
How Private UM/UIM Coverage Works
Uninsured and underinsured motorist coverage (known as UM/UIM) protects a driver who is injured by someone who has no (or very low) insurance.
Here is an example of how UM/UIM can work for a Virginia State Trooper:
- Trooper Jones is on a call when a drunk driver runs a red light and T-bones him, causing a terrible crash. Trooper Jones suffers significant injuries, must have surgery, and has several hundred thousand dollars in medical bills. If the drunk driver only has $25,000 in insurance limits (the minimum required amount), that is the most Trooper Jones can collect for his injuries (the Commonwealth’s coverage is offset by the defendant driver’s coverage). However, if Trooper Jones had a personal policy with $300,000 in UM/UIM coverage, he could collect an additional $300,000 from his own insurance company.
The bottom line is having high personal UM/UIM limits protects you in case another driver does not have enough insurance, regardless if you’re on-the-job or not when you get into the car accident.
How Can Virginia State Troopers Protect Themselves?
By making sure their own personal auto insurance limits are high enough to cover a significant accident, Virginia State Troopers can help protect their own finances after a crash. It is important to remember that UM/UIM coverage applies not only to a car the driver was driving, but also to the named individual on any auto insurance policy, regardless of the car they are in, or even if they are a pedestrian when they are hit by an uninsured or underinsured driver. This means that even though the UM/UIM coverage on the car a Trooper drives through the Virginia State Police isn’t very good, the UM/UIM coverage on the Trooper’s own personal vehicle can protect them in case of an accident.
At Breit Cantor, we recommend that all Virginia State Police Troopers get as much UM/UIM coverage on their personal auto policy as they can afford, but at a minimum they should have at least $300,000 (and the added cost for additional insurance is much less than most people assume). We have represented too many Virginia State Police Troopers who found out too late that they didn’t have the insurance coverage they needed when they were hit by an uninsured or underinsured driver. We hope by spreading the word, we can prevent similar scenes from playing out in the future.