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The “Full Coverage” Myth of Auto Insurance

By Ilya Rabkin, Trial Attorney with the Pendleton Law Team

As a trial attorney at Pendleton Law, one of the first things I ask new clients is what kind of auto insurance do they have. The answer I hear most often is, “Oh, I have full coverage, I’m good.” Then a few hours or days later, when I see the client’s declarations or “dec” page for short, (a 1-2-page document that shows how much you’re paying for car insurance and the policy limits of your coverage) I see that they have the most basic insurance required by Virginia law. Virginia requires that drivers on its roads have minimum coverage of $25,000 for liability coverage as well as $25,000 for uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage. So where does this “full coverage” myth come from? After hearing this same scenario for years and years, I have come to realize that what people are talking about when I ask what kind of insurance do they have is the coverage for their actual physical car, or property damage.

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There are generally two types of property damage auto insurance, liability only and full collision. Liability only means that if you cause a car accident, your auto insurance company will pay to fix the other person’s car, but not your own and full collision is the opposite, your car insurance company will pay to fix your car and the other person’s car, even if the accident was your fault. Of course, full collision is the more protective choice and what most people mean when they say they have, “full coverage.” What most people don’t realize is that the property damage portion of your auto insurance is only one small portion of your auto policy and doesn’t take into account anything about someone’s (including your own’s) injuries. There are some auto insurance companies who even let people strip away everything but the absolute minimum required by Virginia law from their auto policy (the famous “only pay for what you need” slogan from a big name auto insurance company). If you happen to choose one of these insurance plans, you’ll end up saving money in the short-run, but should something terrible happen, you may be left unprotected and vulnerable.

So remember, don’t fall for the “full coverage” myth that insurance sales people push; if you have questions about what kind of auto insurance plan you have, reach out to one of the trial attorneys here at the Pendleton Law team and we’ll be happy to discuss it with you!

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