Most people carry car insurance (it’s the law … but not everyone follows it!). We buy liability insurance to protect our assets in case we cause an accident and collision coverage in the event our vehicles are damaged. These are insurance coverages most people understand. However, there is a type of automobile insurance that some folks carry, but few understand, called Uninsured Motorist coverage (“UM”).
What is Uninsured Motorist coverage?
Uninsured Motorist (UM) protects you and your family if injured in an accident caused by an uninsured driver. Here’s how it works:
- You are rear ended by someone driving without automobile insurance.
- You (or others in your vehicle) are injured.
- You can try to sue the uninsured driver (Good luck!)… OR make a claim for your injuries under your UM coverage.
- Your UM insurance pays you (and/or your passengers) for medical bills, lost income and “pain and suffering”.
- Your insurance company then sues the uninsured driver for what was paid to you. (Insurance companies are very good at collecting money from uninsured drivers.)
Uninsured Motorist coverage also operates as Underinsured Motorist coverage (“UIM”). UIM protects you (or family member) if the other driver carries some insurance, but not enough to fully compensate you for your injuries. Assume the “at-fault” driver carried $15,000 in liability insurance, but your claim is worth $50,000. Your UIM coverage works as follows:
- Other driver’s insurance pays you $15,000.
- Then your insurance company pays you $35,000; for total compensation of $50,000.
UM and UIM follows you/your family wherever you/they go, extending to situations in which you/they are injured by an uninsured/underinsured driver in any of the following:
- driving/riding in your vehicle
- driving/riding in someone else’s vehicle
- riding a bike, walking, jogging, etc.
If you’re concerned that making a UM/UIM claim will increase your premium, don’t be! Insurance companies charge extra for UM coverage to provide a “safety net” in case you are hurt by an uninsured driver.
How much UM/UIM coverage should you carry?
Most insurance companies allow you to purchase UM/UIM coverage equal to the limits of liability coverage you carry. For example, if you carry $100,000 in liability coverage, you should be able to purchase $100,000 in UM coverage. We always recommend that you carry as much UM coverage as possible (otherwise, you are protecting others to a greater degree than you are protecting yourself and your family). Check your insurance policy and if you carry less UM coverage than liability coverage, call your agent! While it may cost a few extra dollars annually, the protection it offers you, your family and passengers could become extremely important.
The Tomalas Law Firm Specializes in representing the victims of uninsured and underinsured drivers. If you or a loved one have been injured by an uninsured or underinsured motorist call us at 949.756.8711 or visit http://www.tomalaslaw.com for a FREE consultation.