Uninsured and Underinsured Drivers in California
Uninsured and underinsured drivers present a big problem in California. While the rate of uninsured drivers has declined in recent years, more than 14 percent of drivers remain uninsured or lack full coverage. Research by the California Department of Insurance reveals that uninsured and underinsured drivers are more likely to be involved in accidents than insured drivers. They tend to be young, male, and less affluent drivers whose cars are older and less safe. Uninsured drivers are on the highways right next to us. They put responsible, insured drivers at risk every day.
Auto Insurance - Who is covered by UM (uninsured motorist) or UIM (underinsured motorist) coverage?
Being involved in a car accident is frightening enough, but learning that you were hit by someone without car insurance is even worse. Seeking treatment for your injuries is stressful, but how are you going to pay your medical bills? What if a passenger in your car is seriously injured? Who is going to pay to fix your car?
Many accident victims believe they are out of luck if they are hit by an uninsured motorist (UIM) or underinsured motorist (UM), but this may not be the case. In California, everyone who purchases auto insurance must be offered uninsured motorist coverage unless you declined this coverage in writing. Most policies likely include coverage for accidents involving underinsured drivers as well.
Some insurance companies try to talk motorcycle owners into waiving UM and UIM coverage. Do not let this happen. Never waive UM or UIM coverage. Your insurance company is required by law to include uninsured motorist coverage as part of every automobile policy written, unless you specifically decline it, in writing. Coverage is usually designated on the face page of your automobile insurance policy by the letter or letters "U" or "UM".
Increase your liability limit to at least $100,000 and UM/UIM coverage to $100,000 so at least you have some reasonable coverage if an uninsured or underinsured driver injures you. This UM/UIM coverage covers YOUR injuries so it is very important.
You do not have to be an automobile driver or passenger in order to be eligible for benefits. Your automobile UM policy usually applies even if you were a pedestrian, bicyclist, motorcyclist, or bystander, so long as the motorist who caused your injuries was uninsured or underinsured.
Your uninsured motorist coverage also applies for the benefit of other passengers in your car or other people driving your car with your permission, and who are injured by an uninsured or underinsured driver.
Uninsured motorist vehicle coverage comes into play whenever anyone who is insured is injured by a driver who is uninsured (has no insurance) or underinsured (does not have enough insurance to pay for the damages caused). As regards a claim for injuries, an uninsured driver includes a hit-and-run driver, so long as there is some actual contact from the hit-and-run driver's vehicle. (Note: However, an unidentified hit-and -run driver is not usually considered an "uninsured motorist" for the purpose of damage to your car.")
Underinsured motorist (UIM) coverage is similar to uninsured motorist coverage. This coverage pays the difference between the uninsured driver's insurance limits and the total damages for bodily injury. For example, if the other driver's insurance policy covers up to $15,000 (the minimum amount in California) and your medical bills are $45,000; your underinsured motorist coverage will pay the remaining $30,000, depending on your policy limits. UM and UIM are usually sold as a package.
Underinsured motorist coverage only applies if the other driver's liability limits are lower than your uninsured coverage limits. Thus, if the driver who causes the accident has a liability policy of $30,000.00 per person, you are not entitled to any uninsured or underinsured motorist benefits, if your uninsured motorist coverage is for $30,000.00 per person/$60,000.00 aggregate. If, however, you have uninsured motorist coverage of $100,000.00 per person/$300,000.00 aggregate, you could receive up to the $70,000.00 difference from your own company for an injury to one person, and up to $240,000.00 additional insurance from your own company if three or more of your family members, or passengers in your car were injured.
UM / UIM Auto Insurance Coverage
Uninsured motorist insurance will also help cover your medical expenses in the event that you are injured in a car accident. It is important that you understand the extent of your uninsured motorist insurance, and we can help. Insurance policies can be confusing and we are experts in negotiating with insurance companies to help get you what you deserve.