Uninsured Motorist Insurance: Coverage Protection from Uninsured and Underinsured Drivers
Uninsured motorist coverage helps pay for damages caused by a driver who doesn't have insurance. Underinsured motorist coverage protects you in the event of an accident where the other party is at fault and doesn't carry enough insurance.
Many states require drivers to carry uninsured and underinsured motorist coverages. However, it does not cover everything. To learn all there is to know, keep reading.
Is Uninsured Motorist Insurance Required?
Uninsured motorist (UM) insurance is required in some states to deter lawsuits. If you are involved in an accident with someone who has no insurance, this coverage would protect you against damages.
Don't assume that everyone on the road has the minimum liability coverage on their vehicle that is required by law. Many people drive without insurance hoping for the best.
If you have an accident with one of these people, they won't have the insurance necessary to pay for repairs and injuries. If you sue them, they are unlikely to have the savings necessary to pay for your losses nor will they carry the necessary limits on their credit cards.
Another question many drivers have is, Does Uninsured Motorist Insurance Cover a Hit and Run Driver? No it does not. You'll need comprehensive coverage to file a claim. Remember that you must have a police report to be covered.
What About Underinsured Motorist Coverage?
Uninsured motorist coverage or uninsured/underinsured motorist will help cover medical expenses and repair costs if the other driver is uninsured. It will also cover you if the driver has liability insurance but your losses exceed the other driver's liability limit.
Uninsured Motorist Insurance Coverage Limits
When you buy Uninsured Motorist Insurance (UM), you can set your own coverage limits. You have the option between split limits and combined limits.
Usually, UM coverage has split limits, which means that there are limits with per-person and per-accident coverage. You'll have a breakdown of options, like 20/40, which means that you're covered up to $20,000 per person but your maximum overall coverage for the accident is $40,000, even if there were four people in your car total (which brings it down to $10,000 per person if all four people are hurt).
Explain Combined Limits with UM
Combined limits are another option for UM. With this kind of coverage only has one amount that is to be paid out by the insurer per accident.
For instance, a $40,000 limit will cover you up to $40,000 total regardless of how many people are in the car. If one person needs $40,000 worth of medical attention, you are covered after you pay a deductible.
Uninsured Motorist Property Damage (UMPD)
Another kind of coverage is Uninsured Motorist Property Damage coverage (UMPD), which only exists in certain states. UMPD sets a limit for vehicle repairs for people who don't carry comprehensive and collision coverage. Some insurers will accept UMPD in place of a deductible.
Car accidents are a traumatic but common driving experience. The average driver files a car insurance claim for a collision about once every 17.9 years. If you are involved in an accident with an uninsured or underinsured motorist, this experience can be even worse. You also have a 12% chance of this being the case, because 1 in 8 drivers does not have auto insurance.
Uninsured Motorist Bodily Injury (UMBI)
A victim of an accident may need medical attention. This could be the driver or the passengers in the car. A hospital visit can be expensive, so you'll want access to coverage in case the other driver is at fault and has no coverage.
Uninsured Motorist is an uninsured motorist or their insurance limits will not cover all of your expenses. Uninsured motorist insurance includes uninsured motorist bodily injury (UMBI) insurance. UMBI can help pay for medical bills.
When the Driver Does Not Have Insurance or is Underinsured
What should you do if the driver who has hit your car is uninsured or underinsured? Will your auto policy cover a claim? Knowing how to tactfully navigate this situation and avoiding common mistakes will greatly improve your likelihood of receiving compensation for the damages you've incurred.
Here is what you need to do if there is damage to your car or a passenger has suffered injuries:
What to Do After an Accident with an Uninsured Motorist
Make sure everyone is okay
Of course, health comes first. Make sure that you and everyone else involved in the accident are physically stable and do not need emergency ambulance services. If you and your passengers are injured and have health insurance, it will be primary and your UMBI will be secondary, if the other driver does not have an auto policy.
If everyone is okay, you can begin documenting the incident.
Call the police
Whether or not the person has auto insurance, calling the police can be helpful in documenting the accident. The police report will provide essential information that can be helpful in getting your expenses covered.
Make sure you keep records of the following: the time the police arrive, the officer's name and badge number. The claims or court process will run a lot smoother if you have the police officer's unbiased report of the incident available.
Exchange contact information
If the other driver has insurance information, record it. If the other driver does not have insurance information to provide you with, collect as much personal information as possible, including their license plate number and license information. Get their contact information and call their number once you enter it into your phone. This not only serves the purpose of giving them your phone number but can also confirm that theirs is valid.
If there are any witnesses involved, make sure to get their contact information too. Witness statements can be helpful during the claims process.
Document the scene
Document the scene of the accident as comprehensively as possible. Take extensive and detailed notes, whether on paper or in a notes application on your smartphone. Write down the make, model and color of all vehicles involved. Note the exact speed you were driving, weather conditions and road conditions. Date your notes with the approximate time that the accident occurred.
Take photographs from multiple angles of the damages incurred to both their car and your car.
Make sure your photographs clearly depict the direction each car is facing. Take photos showing exactly where the accident occurred, such as freeway offramp signs or storefronts.
Photograph traffic signs, stop lights, road hazards or any other factor that may have contributed to the accident. You will be supplying these images to people who will likely never see your car's damage in real life, so document accordingly.
Take care of yourself
Car accidents are traumatic and everyone can have different emotional and physical reactions. Make a doctor's appointment if you're having trouble sleeping and eating. Avoid rushing back to school or work activities before you have thoroughly checked in with yourself.
Call an attorney
If you have been involved in an accident with an uninsured or underinsured driver, you should consider contacting an attorney. If you are planning to take the other driver to small claims court, it is important to get legal advice before pressing charges. Many lawyers offer free consultations to people involved in car accidents.
Don't Do This After an Accident with an Uninsured Motorist
After a car accident, you will likely feel very shaken up. However, being emotional will not be helpful. A bad attitude will likely only make the unfortunate situation worse. Follow protocol and try to be calm and civil as you navigate the situation.
Driving without insurance is illegal in most states, and the other driver may offer you money in an attempt to avoid fees and legal consequences. The other driver may try to convince you to take a cash payment or promise payment at a future date. Do not accept any payment from the other driver under any circumstance.
You should never admit fault for an accident, even if you feel that you may have caused the accident. Leave that determination to third-party professionals. Admitting fault puts you at risk for having a personal injury lawsuit filed against you. Do not admit fault to anyone, including the other driver, witnesses, police officers or your insurance agent.
Talk about it on your social media
After a major life event, many people turn to social media for support. Whether you feel the need to vent or just want to share your experience, your social media activity may be detrimental to your claims or court process. Ensuring your network that you are okay could be an issue if you have a change in your medical condition down the line. Be especially wary of any information that you post because insurance adjusters and lawyers use social media to gather information on claimants.
Experts suggest disabling your social media profiles until after the claim or case is settled. Any posts about your accident could be used against you in future proceedings. At the very least, avoid posting anything about the car accident. Instead, contact and respond to loved ones privately.
The Claims Process
As soon as you are able to, contact your auto insurance company to inform them of the accident. In order for the representative to correctly begin your claims process, inform them that you were involved in an accident with an uninsured or underinsured driver.
Expect your insurance representative to ask you for the following information:
Your insurance policy number and personal identification information
Date, time, location of the accident
Photographs of the accident scene
Any details you've written down
Police department number and names of police officers involved
Insurance information of underinsured driver or contact information for uninsured driver
What Kind of Insurance Do I Need?
Almost every state requires liability car insurance. Unfortunately, this does not stop people from driving without insurance or without sufficient coverage. If the other driver is at fault in the accident and is uninsured or underinsured, your uninsured or underinsured insurance may help to cover your expenses that exceed the other driver's insurance (or lack thereof). This coverage is not expensive and may save you thousands of dollars if you're ever in a situation like this.
Collision coverage is a great addition to consider adding to your policy. Collision coverage will pay for vehicle damages sustained during an accident with a hit and run or at-fault uninsured driver. Collision coverage will not cover your injuries but it will assist in covering damages to your car. If you have high enough limits on collision coverage, you may be able to forgo buying uninsured/underinsured insurance.
How Much Does the Average Accident Cost?
The average car accident settlement is approximately $21,000. It is likely to fall somewhere between $14,000 and $28,000. Some injuries, such as whiplash, can take hours, or even days to appear. You may have unforeseen expenses weeks after an accident. Knowing how expensive a car accident can be, most people cannot afford to drive without uninsured motorist coverage.
No-fault States and Threshold States
If you live in a "no-fault" state, your insurance will cover property damages, personal injury and other related claims, including lost wages, regardless of who's at fault. If you live in a threshold state, you can only sue the other driver as a result of very serious injuries, like dismemberment or death. If you live in a no-fault or threshold state and want to know more about your coverage, visit here.
The following 12 states are considered no-fault states:
The following are verbal threshold states:
Going to Court
If you do not have uninsured motorist coverage and are not in a no-fault state, you may have to take the at-fault driver to court for the damages and expenses you've incurred. In some no-fault states you may also be allowed to take the driver to court if you suffered serious injuries or medical bills past your state's designated limit.
The court process can be time consuming and expensive, with no guarantee of a settlement. Even if you do get a settlement, you may not see that money for a very long time if the uninsured motorist does not pay according to the court order. Some people never receive the money they win in a settlement.
Buying a New Auto Insurance Policy
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