Do I Need Uninsured Motorist Coverage?
It’s difficult to be fully prepared for the aftermath of a car accident. Car accident victims often deal with medical bills, car repairs, and pain and suffering. To make matters worse, the person responsible for the accident may be an uninsured or underinsured driver. This can make it difficult for injured victims to receive the compensation they need to fully cover their injuries and damages.
In situations involving an uninsured driver, it’s essential to carry uninsured motorist coverage for several reasons. Read on to learn what underinsured motorist coverage is and how this coverage can protect you in an auto accident.
What is Uninsured Motorist Coverage?
Uninsured motorist (UM) coverage is a type of auto insurance that protects policyholders if they suffer losses in an accident with a driver who doesn’t have insurance coverage. In most cases, if you were involved in a car accident that was not your fault, you would file an auto insurance claim with the at-fault driver’s auto insurance company to recover compensation.
However, if the at-fault driver cannot pay for your medical bills, property damage, or other expenses related to the accident, your own insurance company can step in to help cover these costs. Uninsured motorist insurance can be a financial lifesaver when dealing with underinsured or uninsured drivers. In some states, uninsured and underinsured motorist coverages can be bundled into one auto insurance policy.
How Many Motorists Are Uninsured?
Understanding the prevalence of uninsured motorists is crucial in recognizing the importance of Uninsured motorist coverage. Statistics vary by state, but on a national level, it’s estimated that around 13% of all U.S. motorists are uninsured. Therefore, about 1 in 8 drivers are uninsured. This number may fluctuate from year to year, but it’s a concerning figure considering the potential financial burden that can result from an accident with an uninsured motorist.
The Difference Between Uninsured and Underinsured Coverage
While both uninsured and underinsured motorist coverage aims to protect you in case of an accident with drivers who lack sufficient car insurance, there are 2 different types of coverage.
Uninsured Motorist (UM) Coverage
Uninsured motorist coverage can protect you if you are hit by a driver who does not carry auto insurance or if you are involved in a hit-and-run accident. Your uninsured motorist insurance can help pay medical bills and cover lost wages for you and/or other passengers in the vehicle. However, this coverage cannot exceed your insurance policy limits.
Underinsured Motorist (UIM) Coverage
Underinsured motorist coverage can apply when the at-fault driver has insurance, but their policy limits are insufficient to cover your expenses in full. Therefore if your medical expenses exceed their liability limits, you can pursue the remaining damages through your underinsured motorist coverage.
The Types of Uninsured and Underinsured Motorist Coverage
Underinsured or Uninsured Motorist Bodily Injury Coverage
Uninsured or underinsured motorist bodily injury coverage can cover you and your passengers for your injuries and losses if the other driver does not carry auto insurance or has enough insurance to cover the damages.
In addition, personal injury protection (PIP) or health insurance may not be enough to cover the full extent of your medical expenses, lost wages, and other costs. PIP is also known as “no-fault insurance” and can cover medical bills for both policyholders and their passengers in the event of a car accident.
Underinsured or Uninsured Motorist Property Damage Coverage
Underinsured or uninsured motorist property damage coverage protects your car if someone hits you and they do not carry car insurance or have sufficient insurance to cover your car repair costs. These types of coverages can help cover the remaining car repairs, up to your insurance policy limits. In the event of a hit-and-run accident, underinsured or uninsured motorist property damage coverage may not apply. This can depend on the state and insurer.
What Does Uninsured/Underinsured Motorist Coverage Cover?
Uninsured and underinsured motorist coverage typically covers the following damages:
Medical Expenses – This includes hospital bills, doctor visits, surgeries, medications, and other medical costs resulting from the accident.
Property Damage – UM/UIM coverage can help repair or replace your vehicle and other damaged property.
Lost Wages – If you’re unable to work due to injuries from the accident, UM/UIM can compensate for your lost income.
Pain and Suffering – Some policies may also provide compensation for the physical and emotional distress caused by the accident.
Uninsured and Underinsured motorist coverage is invaluable in a car accident claim. You don’t have to deal with the car insurance company alone or face financial strain due to someone else’s negligence.
What Does Uninsured/Underinsured Motorist Insurance Not Cover?
While underinsured/uninsured motorist coverage is comprehensive, there are certain situations and expenses it typically does not cover:
- Expenses that exceed your policy limits
- Damage to personal property inside your car, unless your policy states otherwise
- Incidents like vandalism or theft are usually not covered
- Damage to your vehicle from a natural disaster
A personal injury lawyer can help you review your policy and understand the specific exclusions it may have.
Reasons to Carry Uninsured/Underinsured Motorist Coverage
In most states, it’s generally optional to carry both uninsured and underinsured motorist coverage. However, some states require a minimum amount of one or both coverages. As insurance prices rise, it’s best not to cut uninsured motorist coverage. Here are several reasons why having UM/UIM coverage should be a priority for any motorist:
Liability Insurance Coverage Typically Doesn’t Cover All Your Damages:
Liability insurance covers only the damages you cause to others. Therefore, liability coverage does not provide any compensation for your own injuries or property damage when the at-fault driver is uninsured or underinsured.
Protection Against a Hit-And-Run Accident:
If you’re involved in a hit-and-run accident, where the responsible driver flees the scene and cannot be identified, your UM coverage can be your lifeline. It steps in to cover your damages when there’s no one else to hold accountable for your losses. However, in some states, uninsured motorist coverage does not cover hit-and-run accidents. In this case, collision coverage may be necessary.
Can Protect You if a Driver is Uninsured/Underinsured
As mentioned earlier, there is a significant percentage of drivers across the United States who are uninsured or underinsured. UM/UIM coverage can cover your damages when the at-fault driver lacks adequate insurance.
Can Protect You When You Are Outside of Your Vehicle
UM/UIM coverage can protect you beyond your vehicle if you were injured by a careless driver. For example, if you’re a pedestrian or a cyclist struck by an uninsured motorist, your UM coverage can still apply, covering your medical expenses and other losses.
You May Be Able to “Stack” Your Uninsured and Underinsured Bodily Injury Coverage
Some states allow policyholders to “stack” their UM/UIM coverage if they have multiple vehicles insured under the same policy. Stacking uninsured motorist coverage means that the coverage limits can be added together for increased protection.
Contact an Experienced Uninsured Motorist Accident Attorney
Uninsured and underinsured motorist coverage provides crucial protection in accidents caused by uninsured or underinsured motorists, hit-and-run incidents, and more. A personal injury lawyer can help you understand the nuances of UM/UIM coverage and how it can help safeguard you in an auto accident with an uninsured or underinsured driver. If you’ve been involved in an accident caused by an uninsured or underinsured motorist, it’s crucial to consult with an experienced personal injury attorney who specializes in these cases.
At Alpha Accident Lawyers, our auto accident attorneys can help you navigate the complex process of filing a UM/UIM claim and ensure you receive the compensation you deserve. We maintain a 99% success rate and have recovered millions of dollars in verdicts and settlements for our clients. Call us today to schedule a free consultation.
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