Uninsured Motorist Coverage – Don’t be Penny Wise and Pound Foolish

As much Uninsured Motorist (“UM”) coverage as you can afford on your auto policy.

What UM protects: Your family’s uninsured motorist coverage covers you for damages and losses caused by an underinsured or uninsured driver.

Why Substantial UM Coverage is Important: There are many reasons why you should have UM coverage.

  1. Inexpensive: UM coverage can be very or relatively expensive.
  2. Protection in Serious Collision. UM coverage offers good protection if your injuries are severe in a vehicle collision. UM coverage will pay for your provable damages and help you get work again if you are permanently disabled or unable to earn money from work because of the negligence of another motorist.
  3. Protection for pedestrians: You can even use UM coverage benefits if you, or a loved one, are injured by an uninsured, or underinsured motorist.
  4. Hit-and Run Protection: UM coverage is available for hit-and run collisions. Report to the police immediately if you or your vehicle are struck by a hit and run driver. Also, notify your insurance company immediately about the loss. You will be able to use the UM coverage. Check your policy to see if you are eligible for UM coverage in a hit and run accident.
  5. Underinsured Motorist Protection: If the negligent motorist is not insured but has insufficient insurance to cover your losses (e.g., UM coverage if the UM coverage amount exceeds the negligent driver’s liability coverage), you will be covered for additional losses. If you have a $100,000 UM insurance policy and the negligent driver has a liability policy of $25,000.00, then you can have $75,000.00 in potential UM coverage for the claim. The coverage formula could be different depending on the state and policy you have.

Talk to your agent about insurance. If you have UM coverage, talk to your agent about raising it. Talk to your agent if you do not have uninsured motorist coverage.

Insurance policies can differ. Every UM policy may differ from one insurance provider. These differences can affect, modify, and sometimes even eliminate coverage for one or more areas not mentioned above. Ask your agent to review the policy and determine what it covers and excludes.

There are situations where uninsured motorist coverage may not be required. You may have uninsured motorist coverage that overlaps with other insurance policies, such as medical insurance, disability insurance, or personal injury protection (PIP), in some states. You need to decide if UM is worth the extra expense. These are all important points to discuss with your agent.

My many experiences: I have seen UM protection in California as a benefit that far outweighs its cost. Many clients I’ve represented have received far less money than their UM coverage. I’ve been contacted by many people who, despite not having UM coverage, were severely injured by uninsured drivers and suffered substantial financial loss.

Injury without UM Coverage: Contact an attorney if you were injured by the negligence of an insured motorist and don’t have UM insurance. In some cases, an attorney might be able find other sources of recovery. Often, however, an attorney will not be able to find alternative insurance or other sources of recovery. In these cases, failure to buy UM coverage could result in no recovery or a greatly diminished recovery for your losses. In most cases, it is a smart decision to buy as much UM coverage that you can afford.

Factual Example: A couple and their children drive to the beach with their car. Their car is suddenly and unexpectedly hit by a large sedan that ran a red light at an intersection. The large sedan’s driver is unemployed, has no insurance, and has very few assets. Both husband and wife sustain serious injuries. Each of them is unable to work more than one year. Both children sustained serious injuries.

This family, if they have adequate UM coverage would be eligible to have their losses covered under the UM policy. This scenario, depending on the type of insurance, could lead to financial disaster.

Summary: The Uninsured Motorist policy provides protection for your family against hit-and-run drivers, uninsured drivers, or underinsured drivers. UM even covers automobile versus pedestrian collisions. It will provide financial protection for injuries that are severe, disabling, and long-lasting if it has adequate coverage. Uninsured motorist coverage can be purchased for a low price. Depending on your state’s laws, the policy of the insurer, and other coverage you have, UM coverage might provide protection you don’t otherwise have.