One of the most important and least understood aspects of car insurance is Uninsured Motorist Coverage (UMC). UMC protects YOU if you’re injured in an accident by a driver who either doesn’t have liability coverage, or has liability insurance, but with limits lower than your own UMC limits.
Recent estimates indicate approximately 15% of California drivers are uninsured. UMC is so important, that it’s required by law for insurers to include it when they sell an automobile liability policy in California, unless an insured signs a written waiver. UMC is not expensive and you should NEVER waive UM coverage!
You should purchase the same policy limits for UMC as your liability coverage. For example, if you have $100,000 liability coverage, you should also have $100,000 UMC. The logic is simple: you should insure yourself and your family with the same coverage you would buy to protect a stranger injured if you were at fault for an accident.
UMC is inexpensive to buy because it only applies if (1) you’re not at fault, and (2) the responsible driver is either uninsured or underinsured. Making an UMC claim has little or no effect on your insurance rates; insurers know you’re not at fault when you make a UM claim.
When an insurer pays a UMC claim they later sue the at-fault driver to recover what they paid. Once the insurer obtains a judgment against the at-fault driver, they file it with the DMV, and the at-fault driver loses their license until they pay the judgment.
To qualify for UMC, (1) you be a named insured, relative, or member of the same household, (2) you have injuries as a result of an Uninsured Motorist (NOTE: coverage extends beyond the insured vehicle and applies regardless of whether you’re in a motor vehicle, or on a horse, motorcycle, bicycle, or stilts when injured by an uninsured or underinsured motorist), (3) the collision must involve “actual, direct physical contact between the insured and the uninsured vehicle,” and (4) the uninsured vehicle must be identified and the accident reported within ten days.
As personal injury attorneys in Orange County, we’ve seen the result of accidents when the at-fault driver didn’t have sufficient coverage. The victim of the accident wasn’t able to recoup the costs of their medical bills, lost wages, or pain & suffering. After an accident is not the time to think about underinsured motorist coverage—the time to think about it is now.
If you’ve been involved in an accident that wasn’t your fault and you’re having trouble working with your insurance company or the other drivers, give us a call today.