It’s everyone’s nightmare. You get hit by an accident. Then you discover the other driver is uninsured or underinsured for the scope of the crash. Find out how you’re protected by the law.
All states require varying minimum insurance requirements for covering any damage you caused if you’re found at fault. But what if you’re not at fault. And what if the person who hit you has no insurance. Or, worse still, they leave the scene before you can get their information.
The first law that will protect you is the requirement to have liability insurance for the minimum required by the state. This falls under the uninsured motorist law which only covers the vehicle and no injury claims. A lawyer can assist you with taking the motorist to court to recover costs.
If the other motorist can’t be found, then it will be considered hit-and-run. If there was a collision, then your claim should be paid. Your insurance company may reject your claim if you don’t carry collision. An attorney may be able to assist you in filing a claim with your insurance to have the damaged covered under the uninsured motorist law.
However, if the other motorist did not collide but created a situation where you lost control of your car and hit something else, then you will not receive coverage. You would have no way of knowing it at the time, but you would have been better off being hit so you could file a claim rather than swerving to avoid the accident.
The second law that protects you is underinsured motorist coverage. It is an add-on type of insurance that allows for extra coverage in case you are hit by a driver with low insurance policy limits that meet the state mandated minimum coverage.
If you were in a collision that caused a lot of injuries, you would be limited to the other driver’s insurance policy. You could use an attorney to have the person who hit you cover the rest of the damage or medical bills.
A better option is to contact your insurance agent and review you uninsured and underinsured motorist coverage. You should also verify that it covers any pedestrians or bicyclists who may end up injured as a result of the accident.
In 2012, approximately 12% of the United States were driving without insurance. That’s about 1 car out of 12. It really varies quite a bit by state as well as region. Affluent areas are better insured than the poorer regions.
So why don’t some states raise their minimum insurance requirements and toughen penalties for driving without insurance? Unfortunately, high minimum requirements tend to lead to more uninsured drivers. The penalties don’t scare them enough to not drive.
Now that you know the two laws that protect you in case of an accident with an uninsured or underinsured motorist, you may want to consider contacting your insurance agent to verify your coverage. While you may be protected under the minimums, it may not be enough. And you have the right to work with an attorney to be properly compensated under the law.