Picture this scenario: you’re in a fender bender on the freeway. You’re sore, but can get out of the car and walk to talk to the driver who rear-ended you. The other driver tells you that he doesn’t have insurance. What can you do?
If you have uninsured/underinsured (UM/UIM) coverage, you could file a claim against your own insurance company. This type of auto insurance coverage is designed to protect you in the event that you are in an accident with an uninsured motorist — or who doesn’t have enough insurance to cover your losses. While it isn’t mandatory to have UM/UIM coverage in California, insurance companies must offer it to you.
UM/UIM claims can present a number of challenges. Even though you are filing a claim against your own insurance company, they may still fight you. A skilled San Rafael car accident attorney can advocate for you and help you get the compensation that you are entitled to under the law. Check out our infographic about the importance of having Uninsured and Underinsured Motorist Coverage.
What is UM/UIM Coverage?
In California, drivers are required to carry automobile insurance. However, they are only required to carry a minimum amount of insurance. Specifically, drivers must have:
- $15,000 for the death or injury of any one person;
- $30,000 for the death or injury of more than one person in any one accident;and
- $5,000 for property damage.
This is often referred to as 15/30/5 coverage.
Despite this requirement, far too many drivers go without car insurance. UM/UIM protects against these uninsured motorists, and also covers you if you are in an accident with someone who doesn’t have enough insurance to pay for your losses.
Insurance companies must offer you UM/UIM coverage. If you decline it, then you must sign a waiver that states that you were offered the insurance and did not purchase it.
UM/UIM coverage pays for injuries to you and to anyone in your vehicle if you are in an accident with someone who does not have insurance or lacks enough insurance to pay for your losses. For example, if a driver with the state minimum insurance runs a red light and crashes into your car, causing $25,000 in injuries to you and $10,000 in property damage, then you may file a claim with your own insurance company to cover the amount of bodily injury ($10,000) and property damage ($5,000) that wasn’t covered by the at-fault driver’s insurer.
UM/UIM coverage can also be used for hit and run accidents. If you are hit by a driver who flees the scene, you can submit a claim to your insurance company for the damages. Typically, you will need a police report to prove that you were in a hit and run accident and that the at-fault driver cannot be located.
Why Is UM/UIM Coverage Important?
If you are hurt in a car accident, you may suffer tens or even hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of damages. When the other driver doesn’t have any insurance, or doesn’t have enough insurance to cover your losses, that can leave you holding the bag. Through UM/UIM coverage, you can ensure that your losses are coverage.
According to the Insurance Information Institute, 15.2% of all drivers in California are uninsured. With more than 27 million licensed drivers in California, that works out to 4.1 million uninsured drivers on the road. Underinsured drivers — those who only have the state minimum insurance — likely account for millions more drivers.
With so many uninsured and underinsured drivers in California, protecting yourself with UM/UIM coverage makes good sense. Rather than having to dig into your own pockets to cover lost wages, medical bills, property damage and more, your insurance company will pick up the tab, up to the limits of your UM/UIM coverage.
Of course, just because you are filing a claim with your own insurer doesn’t mean that it’ll automatically be approved. Insurance companies are in business to make money and they do that by denying and minimizing claims whenever possible. A San Rafael car accident lawyer can fight for your right to compensation.
Hit By an Uninsured Motorist? We’re Here to Help.
Being in a car accident can be scary. If the other driver doesn’t have insurance or lacks enough insurance to pay for your losses, it can also be incredibly frustrating. If you have UM/UIM coverage, you may be able to file a claim to get compensation for your damages.
At Kuvara Law, we represent Californians who have been hurt in all types of accidents, including those with uninsured motorists. We offer free initial consultations, and never charge a fee unless we recover money for you. To learn more or to schedule an appointment with a member of our team, contact us at 415-479-7070 or fill out our online contact form.