What Is Uninsured Motorist Coverage?
CALL (888) 449-1160 TO SPEAK WITH A PERSONAL INJURY LAWYER FOR FREE
In general, if you get rear-ended by a reckless driver, you may expect that driver or their insurance to pay for any damages caused by their reckless driving. However, in some cases, you may not be able to get anything from the driver because the driver has no insurance.
Even if the driver has insurance, you may find that the driver’s insurance company will not foot the whole bill because your damages exceed the scope of the driver’s insurance coverage. However, you may be able to avoid these situations if you have signed up for uninsured motorist coverage. This article will help explain what uninsured motorist coverage is and why you may wish to add it to your insurance policy if you have not already done so.
If you or your loved one has been injured in an automobile accident and the party at fault has inadequate or no insurance, you may nevertheless be entitled to compensation. Call Zinda Law Group at (888) 449-1160 for a free consultation with one of our experienced car accident lawyers.
Uninsured Motorist Coverage
Uninsured motorist coverage, or UIM coverage, is an automobile insurance policy provision that provides coverage for property and bodily damage in situations where the party that caused the accident has insufficient automobile insurance. Essentially, uninsured motorist coverage makes up for the amount of compensation the at-fault party cannot pay. For example, let us say that the at-fault driver causes $10,000 of damages, but he has no insurance. If you have UIM coverage, you may be able to collect the full $10,000 in damages from your own insurance company.
Do I Need Uninsured Motorist Coverage?
According to the Insurance Research Council, one in every eight U.S. drivers does not have insurance coverage. This means that there is a sizable chance that if you get into a car accident and the other driver is responsible, they might not be able to provide any compensation if that party was responsible for the accident. That is, it is imperative to find an insurance policy that contains uninsured motorist insurance.
There are many reasons why you may need UIM coverage. In certain states, people need uninsured motorist coverage because the law requires them to have it. Additionally, you may need UIM coverage if you are leasing a car. Many leasing and financing agencies, including dealerships and banks, require that you have uninsured motorist coverage.
Even if uninsured motorist insurance is not required in your state, you may still want to sign up for UIM coverage. Though automobile insurance is necessary in the majority of states, there are variations in the policies and coverage you can get.
Underinsured Motorist Accident Compensation
Underinsured motorist accident compensation works very similarly to uninsured motorist compensation except that in underinsured motorist accidents, the at-fault driver will offset some of the expenses you incurred from your injuries or property damage. When you file an underinsured motorist accident claim, you are asking your insurance company to pay for the expenses that the at-fault driver could not cover. For example, if your medical expenses are $50,000 and the at-fault driver only has $10,000 for bodily injury liability, and you have $50,000 in UIM coverage, you can ask your insurance to pay the remaining $40,000 of your medical bills after exhausting the driver’s $10,000 liability payout.
Most states require that your automobile insurance policy provides bodily injury liability coverage, but nearly half of the states that require bodily injury liability coverage only require minimum coverage limits of $25,000 per person and $50,000 per accident. Unfortunately, when compared to the actual costs incurred by victims of car accidents, these amounts are very low. Because of this difference between the minimum amounts and the amount of money you may owe to cover the related damages in an accident, you may wish to sign up for UIM coverage. If you do not and you get hit by an uninsured driver and sustain injuries or damages to your vehicle, you may be the one to pay for those injuries and damages– even if you were not at fault.
What is the Difference Between Uninsured and Underinsured?
Uninsured simply means that the driver has no insurance whatsoever, while underinsured means that the driver has insurance, but the insurance policy provides very little coverage.
What Does Uninsured Motorist Coverage Pay For?
UIM coverage is intended to protect you if you are in an accident with an uninsured motorist. In general, an uninsured motorist coverage pays for uninsured motorist bodily injury and uninsured motorist property damage.
Uninsured Motorist Bodily Injury
If you have uninsured motorist bodily injury coverage, your insurance company will generally pay at least some amount for the injuries inflicted upon you or your passengers if the uninsured driver is deemed to have been responsible for the injuries. It is important to note that many uninsured motorist bodily injury policies will provide you compensation if you were a victim of a hit-and-run driver or if you were riding a bike or walking at the time of the accident. And like standard automobile insurance policies, uninsured motorist bodily injury policies will cover medical expenses and lost wages. They may even cover for rehabilitation and funeral expenses.
To learn more about auto insurance and bike accidents, view our article: Does Auto Insurance Cover Bike Accidents?
Uninsured Motorist Property Damage
If you have uninsured motorist property damage coverage, your insurance company will pay for damages to your car and other property if they were damaged by an uninsured driver and the uninsured driver was at-fault. Note, however, that not all insurance companies provide both uninsured motorist bodily injury coverage and uninsured motorist property damage coverage. Many insurance companies provide an option for you to sign up for uninsured motorist insurance, but the policy may only cover uninsured motorist bodily injuries.
Uninsured Motorist Accident Claims
If an individual gets into a car accident and another driver who is uninsured is at fault, the individual will generally file a claim with his or her insurance provider. Afterwards, the individual’s insurance provider will contact the at-fault driver’s insurance provider for payment. If the at-fault driver’s insurance provider states that it cannot the damages exceed the at-fault driver’s coverage, the individual’s insurance provider will generally compensate for the remaining expenses. If you do not have uninsured motorist coverage and get into an accident with an at-fault and uninsured motorist, your only remedy to get compensation may be through the courts. However, even if you are able to win at trial, if the driver does not have many assets, you may still be unable to get any compensation.
What to Do When an Uninsured Motorist Hits You
1. Report the Accident
In any car accident, you should report the accident to the police. The police will generally write a report of the accident. This report often determines who was at fault, and this report will be essential if you decide to file a claim.
2. Collect Evidence
Be sure to always document and retrieve evidence from the scene of the accident. Get the name, address, license number, plate number, and insurance information from all the drivers involved in the accident. Also, if the driver involved in an accident was working for an employer, you should obtain the name and contact information of the driver’s employer.
3. Get Medical Attention
Seek medical attention as soon as possible. Your health is your number one priority. However, by getting medical attention, you also get the benefit of having doctors to record your injuries. Do not refuse to go to the hospital just because you think you are fine after the accident. After an accident, you often have adrenaline that may mask some of your injuries’ effects. You want to make sure that you have all your potential injuries recorded to have a chance of seeking just compensation.
4. Contact Insurance Company
Once you find out that the at-fault driver is uninsured, you should let your insurance provider know right away. By doing so, you are letting them know that you want to file an uninsured motorist claim. You should let your insurance company know right away because many insurance companies have deadlines on how late you can file an uninsured motorist claim.
Do I Need a Lawyer for an Uninsured Motorist Claim?
If you are filing an uninsured motorist claim, you may wish to have a lawyer by your side. This is because when you file a claim with an insurance company, it is likely that the insurance company will not initially offer you the compensation you may be entitled to. Filing an uninsured motorist claim is very similar to filing a regular car accident claim. There will be investigations of the accident, disclosure of medical records, and depositions. If your injuries are extremely severe, we advise you to speak with a lawyer because insurance companies are often very hesitant to pay for large claims.
If you do not have uninsured motorist coverage, you are not completely at a loss because you may still be able to sue the at-fault driver in court. However, there are limitations: your ability to sue is dependent on whether you live in a no-fault state or a traditional negligence state.
In no-fault states, each driver is generally responsible for their own injuries regardless of who was at fault for the accident. While your ability to sue the at-fault driver is limited, you are still able to sue the at-fault driver in cases where you have suffered extreme injuries or incurred hefty medical bills.
If you live in a traditional negligence state, you may be able to sue the at-fault driver. However, drivers who do not carry insurance are often also lacking in assets to pull money from in the lawsuit. Therefore, you may not wish to directly sue the at-fault driver, even if you are able to.
Keep in mind that even if you have been in an accident with an uninsured motorist and you don’t have UIM coverage, an attorney may be able to find another way to seek compensation without suing the driver directly.
Get Help From Zinda Law Group
If you are unsure whether or not you have uninsured motorist coverage, or if you do not have UIM and are looking to file a claim, do not hesitate to contact Zinda Law Group. The attorneys at Zinda Law Group have handled many accident cases and may be able to assist you with yours, too.
Meetings with attorneys by appointment only.