How to Protect Yourself from Uninsured Motorists
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What Is Uninsured Motorist Coverage
In some countries, car insurance is mandatory. All vehicle owners need to pay an insurance policy. Their laws also mandate that the principals inform their insurance company every time a member of their family gets a license, especially teenagers. The insurance rates are also exorbitant, which discourages people from getting a student’s permit for teens. These laws protect every motorist on the road.
But this is not so in the United States. The US laws on vehicle insurance are relatively loose. Many drivers and car owners can go on driving without appropriate insurance. Unfortunately, you will never know if the motorist who hit you is insured until after the accident has happened.
Every year, 37,000 people die in car crashes. Another 2.35 million are either injured or permanently disabled. And every year, the total cost of medical expenses is a staggering $250 billion.
Currently, 14% of motorists across the country are uninsured. Because of varying laws in every state, there are some places in which there is one in every five vehicles uninsured and some places where one in every 20 motorists do not have car insurance. If you ever get into a collision with one of these, what should you do?
Get UM/UIM Insurance
A knowledgeable car accident lawyer would advise you to insure yourself for a situation like this. The uninsured motorist coverage varies from one company to another. State laws also vary. However, there are three main types of coverage you can choose.
Uninsured Motorist Insurance – commonly called as UM or Uninsured Motorist Bodily Injury (UMBI), this will pay for your medical bills, including your passengers, if you ever get into a collision with an uninsured driver, provided that the uninsured motorist is at fault. If the collision is your fault, this policy will not take effect.
This coverage will also reimburse you for lost wages. The policy also applies if an uninsured motorist hits you while you are walking, or if you are a victim of a hit-and-run.
Uninsured Motorist Property Damage – this type of policy covers damage to car and property. UM only covers bodily harm but not car repairs. Ask your insurance broker if this is available in your state. Clarify if the coverage is only for simple repair or if it has a car replacement option based on the current market value of your car.
Underinsured Motorist Protection – this policy applies to at-fault drivers whose insurance coverage is not enough to pay for the damages. If you have this situation, your insurance company will cover the difference without deducting it from your comprehensive insurance policy.
Call the Police
Now that you have protection against the uninsured, make sure you do the right things after a collision. The first thing you need to do is to call the police so they can properly investigate and document the incident. A police report has a lot of weight when insurance companies make decisions.
Uninsured motorists will insist that there is no need to call the police because they do not want to get in trouble. They may offer you money, but you have to stand your ground. What usually happens is they give you a false insurance information, which, of course, does not exist. Without a police report, your insurance company may refuse to grant your claim.
Call Your Lawyer
The next thing to do after calling the authorities is to call your car accident lawyer. Tell your lawyer about the situation. By this time, it is likely you already know that the motorist is uninsured, so have him deal with your insurance company.
It would have been easy if the driver involved had an insurance policy. Your lawyer only has to talk to his insurance company. With uninsured drivers, he has to speak to the police and direct the investigation to your insurance company. Your attorney may also recommend suing the uninsured motorist.
Your lawyer can also question unfavorable decisions of your insurance company. If they violate the law, you can also sue them under the provisions of the Consumer Protection Law.
It is always a good idea to prepare for any situation. Just imagine what you would have to go through if you had no adequate coverage after an accident because the at-fault driver didn’t have insurance. He has no money, he has no insurance, and he is likely to bail out on you. You will find yourself empty-handed, tricked, and left high and dry by your insurance company.
It is, therefore, imperative that you are armed with this information to protect yourself. Without a car accident lawyer, your opportunities for recovery may run out. As early as today, you need to consult an experienced lawyer and retain them in case you find yourself in a collision.
Last Updated: 03-24-2017