Uninsured motorist coverage is a type of auto insurance coverage that, as the name suggests, protects you in the event that you are injured by a driver who has no insurance. It may also protect you in the event that you are injured by a driver with insufficient insurance.
The purpose of uninsured motorist coverage is to ensure that you are adequately covered for injuries sustained in a car accident. If the at fault driver in an accident has sufficient auto insurance coverage, then uninsured motorist coverage does not apply. Uninsured motorist coverage is important because it can help ensure that victims of accidents caused by negligent drivers will be fairly compensated for their injuries.
A recent study by the Department of Transportation found that 12.6% of drivers don’t have car insurance. While I’m confident most of my readers have coverage, you should know what to do if you are involved in an accident where the other driver doesn’t have insurance.
Whether or not you should make a claim against your own uninsured motorist coverage depends on the circumstances of the accident and your policy limits. When to make a claim is one of the more common questions asked of me by readers and clients, so here are some things to consider:
1. When you are in an accident with a non-insured driver and it was their fault:
If you were not injured you probably don’t need to do anything at all. Most states will not allow a person to recover compensation for pain and suffering if they do not have medical bills or lost wages as a result of their injuries. But if you were injured and the at fault driver didn’t have any insurance at the time of the wreck, you would make a claim though your own uninsured coverage.
2. When you are involved in a hit and run or a Phantom Vehicle wreck:
In Georgia, a “hit and run” or “phantom vehicle” accident refers to an accident where the at-fault driver either leaves the scene of the accident or can’t be identified. These types of accidents fall into several different categories:
3. When you are injured in a car accident and the other driver did have liability coverage, but that policy had lapsed:
According to the Insurance Information Institute, over 11 million drivers in America are driving without insurance. When you are involved in an accident with such a driver, your only course of action is to make a claim through your own policy’s uninsured / underinsured motorist coverage.
4. When the other insurance company doesn’t carry enough coverage:
After a car accident, you may find yourself dealing with the other driver’s insurance company. If they carry the appropriate amount of coverage, they will pay for your medical bills and any other damages. I’ve already discussed the lie that is “full coverage,” you can read about that here.
But what happens when your injuries are significant and the other insurance company doesn’t carry enough coverage? We call this being underinsured. They have coverage just not enough to fully compensate you for your all of your damages. You’ll need to turn to your own insurance company. This is where underinsured coverage comes into play.
Add-on: An add-on um policy is an additional policy that you purchase to increase the amount of your uninsured or underinsured motorist coverage. For example, if the at-fault party only has $25,000 in liability limits on their policy and you have an “add-on” policy with a limit of $25,000, in the event of an injury, the total amount you would be able to go after is $50,000 ($25,000 from the liability or at fault party and $25,000 from the add-on um policy).
Reduced-by: A reduced by policy covers the difference between what your UM/UIM coverage would pay and what you receive from any other available insurance. The same example as before, the at fault party has $25,000 bodily injury limit and you have $25,000 in reduced-by um coverage. In the event of an accident there would only be $25,000 in coverage available because your amount is reduced by the at fault parties amount.
If you’re involved in a serious auto accident, your next steps should be to contact Cohen & Sinowski.
The attorneys at Cohen & Sinowski specialize in personal injury claims and can help you determine whether or not you could file a claim against the at-fault driver’s insurance company. Contact us today to schedule a free consultation and get started on your case.