Getting Auto Insurance in West Virginia
While there are many West Virginia residents who are willing to participate in dangerous activities, most make sure they have adequate protection in place before undertaking the task at hand. A skydiver would never consider jumping out of an airplane without first packing a reserve parachute; a climber wouldn't dare attempt a trek to the top of Spruce Knob without adequate supplies; and a bungee jumper wouldn't even think about leaping off the New River Gorge Bridge without first testing the connection and strength of his or her bungee cord. Yet every day, hundreds and thousands of West Virginians lack adequate protection when attempting one of the most dangerous activities the state has to offer: driving.
Every year, there's an average of 51,376 car accidents on the state's roads and highways, which breaks down to an average of more than 144 crashes per day. Of that annual average, 16,763 result in injuries and 364 result in lost lives. But the risk associated with driving involves more than just receiving an injury or causing injury to others. Your rates may increase, and should you be deemed responsible for a traffic accident, you also become legally responsible for the other motorist's medical bills and damages. Considering the rising costs of health care and vehicle repairs, that could send you and your family into a financial freefall that could result in losses of savings, possessions and even your home.
That potential financial devastation is one of the primary reasons The Mountain State has a mandatory insurance law in place. Under the state mandate, every driver is required to maintain liability protection with minimum coverage amounts of $20,000 for bodily injury or death of one person; $40,000 for bodily injury or death of two or more people; and $10,000 for property damage. Although liability only takes care of the other driver's expenses when the policyholder is at fault, it protects West Virginians from suffering a great financial loss at the hand of another motorist while helping the at-fault motorist pay for his or her mistake without losing everything.
Taking the protection of its residents one step further, the state also requires that drivers maintain uninsured motorist protection--placing it among just a handful of states to do so. Uninsured motorist insurance guarantees that you'll be taken care of if you're involved in an accident caused by someone who's not in compliance with state law. The minimum required amounts are the same as those associated with liability protection.
But are those minimum coverage amounts enough? A look at national insurer statistics reveals that the average policyholder maintains liability limits of $100,000 for bodily injury or death of one person; $300,000 for bodily injury or death of two or more people; and $50,000 for property damage. Those figures fall quite a bit short of the $20,000, $40,000 and $10,000 required by West Virginia law. While the difference between these numbers could indicate that most people have money to burn, the more likely explanation is they're fully aware that the minimum coverage required by state law often isn't enough to avert a financial disaster.
Kick It Up a Notch
The good news is you're not limited to the coverage amounts dictated by the state. In fact, West Virginia legally requires insurers to offer higher limits of coverage that at least meet the national averages. For a relatively small addition to your premium, you can easily raise your liability and uninsured motorist limits to levels that will better ensure your family's financial future and allow you to hit the road with more peace of mind.
That peace of mind isn't limited to just liability and uninsured motorist coverage. Insurers offer state residents a variety of options to suit various needs, conditions and financial situations. For example, to take care of your own costs if you're involved in an accident, you might want to add collision coverage to your policy. It pays for vehicle damage resulting from a collision--regardless of who is responsible. If you drive a new or high-end vehicle, or simply feel more comfortable with the fullest amount of protection possible, you should consider comprehensive insurance. Offering protection even when you're not behind the wheel, comprehensive helps replace your car if it's stolen and pays to repair damage caused by fire, wind, hail, flooding, explosion, vandalism and animals. Another option is medical insurance, which guarantees payments of your medical bills--even if you sustained your injuries as a passenger in someone else's car.
There are also a number of available options designed to assist you in crisis situations or to simply make your driving experience more hassle-free. Among the riders you can add to your existing policy are free towing if your vehicle becomes disabled; roadside assistance for help with flat tires, engine trouble or even lost keys; a free rental car should you need transportation while your vehicle is being repaired; and labor benefits to help make up for lost income if you're unable to work as the result of a collision.
With so many available options and levels of protection, it's easy to customize your auto protection to fit your needs and expectations. And considering the devastating effects just one car accident can have on you and your family, you've got every reason in the world to expand your protection beyond West Virginia's required minimum. You might find increasing your coverage to be the smartest investment you've ever made.
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