Accidents can catch us off guard, disrupting our lives in an instant. The consequences can be difficult to deal with. As if that is not enough, what happens when the at-fault driver is uninsured or has insufficient coverage to cover your losses? This is where uninsured motorist (UMC) coverage and underinsured motorist (UIM) coverage step in to safeguard your financial stability. Understanding what these motorist coverages entail and how they can affect your case is crucial to protect yourself financially. Read on to understand how UMC and UIM coverage work and how you can confidently face the unexpected.
Uninsured Motorist (UMC) Coverage
Uninsured motorist coverage is insurance coverage that pays you when you are involved in an accident with an uninsured driver. According to the Insurance Research Council, one in every eight U.S. drivers carries no insurance. Insurance companies offer UMC coverage to mitigate the potential losses arising from such situations.
The minimum liability insurance in California is 15/30/5. This means:
- $15,000 bodily coverage per person
- $30,000 bodily coverage per accident
- $5,000 property damage coverage
Additionally, insurers in California are legally required to offer UMC coverage in addition to your auto insurance policy. This type of coverage consists of the following:
- Uninsured motorist property damage (UMPD)
- Uninsured motorist bodily injury (UMBI)
However, you can decline UMC coverage by providing a written waiver that you were offered the coverage but refused to purchase it.
Although uninsured motorist coverage may seem like an extra cost, it can help compensate you for lost wages, medical expenses, and property damage resulting from an accident with an uninsured driver. Moreover, it can extend to cover other persons named in your policy, including family members and sometimes passengers in your vehicle.
Uninsured motorist coverage can come in handy when you are involved in a hit-and-run or when the insurance company of the at-fault driver is unwilling or unable to pay the claim.
Underinsured Motorist (UIM) Coverage
Underinsured motorist coverage protects you when an at-fault driver’s insurance coverage is insufficient to cover your damages fully. Underinsured motorist coverage considers the at-fault driver uninsured for damages beyond their policy limits, up to the maximum limit of your underinsured motorist coverage. Let’s consider an example to understand the significance of UIM coverage.
Imagine you are involved in an accident caused by another driver. The driver’s insurance policy has a liability limit of $25,000, but your medical expenses exceed that amount. In such a case, your UIM coverage can be used to bridge the gap between the at-fault driver coverage and your damages. This ensures you do not have to pay the remaining expenses out of pocket.
UIM coverages operate similarly to UMC coverage, compensating for medical bills, lost wages, and property damage. It ensures you receive the compensation you deserve, even if the responsible driver’s insurance falls short.
How Much UMC/UIM Coverage Do I Need?
In California, insurance companies typically provide uninsured/underinsured policy limits that match your chosen liability policy limits. For example, if you have purchased liability limits of 50/100 for accidents you cause, you can generally acquire 50/100 policy limits to cover accidents caused by uninsured or underinsured drivers.
However, the amount you can collect for injuries resulting from an uninsured or underinsured motorist cannot exceed the limits of your policy. This means you cannot claim more compensation than your policy allows, even if the damages surpass that amount.
How Uninsured and Underinsured Motorist Coverage Affect Your Case
Uninsured and underinsured motorist coverages can impact your case in several ways.
- Financial Protection
These coverages act as additional safety nets, providing financial protection when you are involved in an accident with an uninsured or underinsured driver. UMC/UIM coverage helps cover expenses that would otherwise burden you, such as medical bills, lost income, and vehicle repairs.
- Uninsured Hit-and-Run Accidents
Uninsured motorist coverage can benefit hit-and-run accidents where the at-fault driver flees the scene. Since their identity and insurance information is unknown, your UMC coverage can cover your losses.
- Legal Recourse
If you file a UMC/UIM coverage claim, your insurance company will evaluate the accident’s circumstances to establish liability. Then they will assess your damages and negotiate a settlement. Legal recourse may be necessary to ensure fair compensation in case of any disputes or unfair offers.
Contact the Skilled Auto Accident Lawyers in Burbank Today
If you have been involved in an auto accident in California, it is crucial to seek legal assistance promptly. The skilled auto accident lawyers at Avaness Law in Burbank are here to help. Contact us today at (818) 724-7222 to schedule a consultation. We can guide you through the claims process, protect your rights and ensure you receive the compensation you deserve.