The Importance of Having Uninsured Motorist Benefits
A recent Wall Street Journal article found 14% of motorists in the United States are driving uninsured vehicles. And, that number actually seems lower than the actual number. Uninsured drivers pose a substantial risk to all motorists on the roads and highways.
While 14% may not seem like a high number, if you are a victim of an uninsured driver then you may be victimized twice. The first hit will be the accident itself and any resulting injuries and damages. The second hit will be the inability to receive compensation for your injuries because there is no insurance policy to pay you a settlement.
When a person is injured in a car accident as a result of another person’s negligence, the victim typically files a lawsuit against the at fault driver demanding compensation. When the driver or vehicle owner has insurance, the insurance company will pay compensation for their pain and suffering. However, if the at-fault driver was driving without an insurance policy, you may have no recourse unless you have protections in your auto insurance policy.
For this reason alone, it is very important that all drivers have uninsured motorist coverage on their insurance policy. Uninsured motorist coverage are contractual benefits a person is entitled to if they are involved in a motor vehicle accident where the at-fault party is uninsured. Without this benefit on your insurance policy, you may not get the financial assistance you need to help pay for all medical bill expenses incurred due to the auto crash.
With uninsured motorist coverage, your insurer will pay any settlement as if it were insuring the negligent driver. On some occasions, you may even have to sue your own insurance company if it refuses to pay a fair settlement under your policy. The insurance company may defend the case either blaming you for the crash or attempt to minimize the seriousness of your injuries and damages.
When you purchase new insurance coverage or renew an existing policy, make sure to carefully review your declaration page. This page lists all of your available coverage and the limits of each coverage. You want to make sure that your uninsured motorist coverage limits are at least the same as your liability coverage. Otherwise, you are essentially insuring strangers for more coverage than you are for yourself and your family.
In the event you are injured in a motor vehicle accident caused by an uninsured driver, you should contact an experienced auto accident attorney as soon as possible. Many insurance policies have special requirements for making claims, and the time deadlines are often different than the normal limitation periods for filing personal injury claims. If you miss a deadline or fail to properly file a claim, you may forfeit your right to a settlement.
You should also ask your agent about purchasing underinsured motorist coverage. This provides you with protection in the event that you are seriously injured by a motorist who has only minimal coverage. In that event, your own policy would pay the difference up to the limits of your underinsured motorist coverage. Many policies bundle uninsured motorist and underinsured motorist coverage, so you may have it already.