Uninsured Motorist Insurance Coverage and Claims
You are cruising along the highway, glad to be done with another week of work. As your mind wanders to all the exciting things you are going to do this weekend, you hear a loud screech and then feel a hard crash. You’ve just been hit by another driver. You pull over to the side and begin talking to the other motorist, quickly realizing she doesn’t have car insurance. Thank goodness you have uninsured motorist insurance (UMI) to help cover bodily injuries and/or property damage.
Below you will find important information about uninsured motorist coverage, how to make a claim, and how to find a skilled lawyer to help you recover for your injuries.
UMI: What is it?
Let’s start with the basics. Every driver is required to have a minimum amount of car insurance under state law. Why? Exactly for situations like the one described above. Even if the other driver doesn’t have any money, their insurance company will be required to pay for an accident that is his or her fault, depending on the negligence laws of that particular state. This type of coverage is known as "liability coverage," mandated by financial responsibility laws. But there are situations where drivers simply don’t carry the required amount of minimum coverage. Does that mean you are out-of-pocket for your own expenses? No, this is where UMI kicks in. If you elected to purchase this coverage, your insurer will pay for injury or death to you and your passengers in one of three scenarios:
- Another uninsured driver caused the accident;
- Another driver is underinsured (insurance company pays too little for your damages); or
- You are involved in a hit and run accident.
Is UMI a Mandatory Insurance Requirement?
It depends on where you live, but UMI coverage is generally optional and those options vary widely by state including coverage choices, available limits, and mandatory requirements. If you are able, it is good idea to purchase this coverage as part of your policy to help you handle the unexpected, and oftentimes unavoidable, car accident. Some insurance companies offer Uninsured Motorist Property Damage insurance (UMPD), which covers damage to your vehicle or other property.
Making a UMI Claim
Okay, so now what do you do? Well, if the other driver doesn’t have insurance, you can either sue her (however, it is highly unlikely she has the assets to cover your damage if she doesn’t have liability coverage to begin with) or you can make your UMI claim to your insurance company. You will want to contact your insurer as soon as possible because most insurance companies have time limits on when you can file an uninsured motorist claim and if you fail to meet the requirement, you may be prevented from collecting on the claim. A claims adjuster will handle your case and investigate whether or not you have the correct coverage and who was the at-fault driver. There is always the possibility of your insurer denying your claim, but each case is different and dependent on the unique facts.
Uninsured Motorist Coverage and Claims: Related Resources
- Stages of a Personal Injury Case
- Taking Notes About Car Accident Injuries
- Car Accident Do’s and Don’ts
Questions About Uninsured Motorist Insurance Coverage? An Attorney Can Help
You should be familiar with the insurance laws in your state and how you can seek recovery if you have damages related to a car accident. If you have additional questions or concerns, you may want to contact an experienced personal injury attorney who specializes in motor vehicle accidents.
Contact a qualified auto accident attorney to make sure your rights are protected.