The safety of our roads depends on how careful and responsible we are. Sadly, not everyone holds up their end of the bargain, which is why uninsured motorist coverage is a policy you should consider purchasing.
We know that the idea of taking on another expense probably doesn’t sound appealing. You may even be wondering if the policy is something you need.
To help you better understand what uninsured motorist coverage is for and why you might need it, we’ve put together a comprehensive article that breaks it down neatly. Please feel free to read on and see why an uninsured motorist plan is something that can prove immensely valuable.
The Need for Uninsured Motorist Coverage
Securing auto insurance is the law. It doesn't matter where you live; you will need to purchase auto insurance before driving. If the authorities catch you driving without insurance, you could face legal issues.
Car insurance is mandated by the law to protect all motorists.
After being involved in a car accident, you may find yourself saddled with a mountain of medical bills and enormous debts due to the loss of your ability to work. Several other factors can increase how damaging your losses stemming from the accident are.
Unfortunately, there is no way to go back in time to prevent the accident from taking place. The only thing you can do at that point is to hold the offending party responsible for what happened.
The other party’s insurance provider should pay for your expenses. But what happens if the other party doesn’t have insurance?
You can try to sue the other person and get them to pay that way, but there’s no guarantee they have the money you need. If they did, they would probably have auto insurance in the first place.
After realizing that the person who caused the accident has no insurance and no money, you are suddenly facing the worst-case scenario. You may have to shoulder all your losses on your own.
No one should ever be in that position, but it's a possibility you cannot rule out. Preparing for that scenario is also why you need uninsured motorist coverage.
Understanding the Importance of Uninsured Motorist Coverage
The expectation is that everyone you’re sharing the road with has insurance, but that is not guaranteed. Some people are simply irresponsible, and that sadly puts the people around them in trouble.
Uninsured motorist coverage provides that extra level of protection that all drivers can benefit from having. Taking out car insurance protects the people around you, while uninsured motorist coverage shields you from negligent drivers who go on the road.
You can feel a bit more relaxed knowing that an accident is not going to put you in a big hole financially. That remains the case even if the other party has no insurance policy.
Think of uninsured motorist coverage as a type of policy that shores up a potential blind spot in most auto insurance plans. Many motorists will argue that uninsured motorist coverage is important as your car insurance.
The Types of Uninsured Motorist Coverage
Now that we can better comprehend the value of uninsured motorist coverage, it’s time to learn what type to get. Your insurance provider will present you with two types of uninsured motorist coverage plans. Let’s talk about them in detail below.
Uninsured Motorist Bodily Injury Coverage
The first type of uninsured motorist coverage plan you can purchase focuses on medical expenses. Uninsured motorist bodily injury coverage comes into play if you were injured during an accident caused by a driver with no insurance.
The total cost of your medical expenses can climb in a hurry depending on the severity of your injuries. You may have a hard time paying for them on your own if you’re too injured to work.
There’s no need to worry about that if you have uninsured motorist bodily injury coverage.
Aside from your medical bills, this policy accounts for pain and suffering that were byproducts of your involvement in the accident.
You should also know that uninsured motorist bodily injury coverage does more than offer you protection. If other people were in the vehicle when the accident took place, your plan would cover their expenses also.
Uninsured Motorist Property Damage Coverage
The other policy made available to drivers is uninsured motorist property damage coverage. As you’ve probably guessed, this plan acts as a safety net if the guilty party without insurance damages your vehicle.
Having no car for an extended time can be inconvenient and quite costly too. Taking out an uninsured motorist coverage plan allows you to get your car repaired quickly and prevents that from affecting your daily routine.
How to File a Claim for Your Uninsured Motorist Coverage
Following an accident, they urge drivers to immediately perform certain tasks to ensure their safety. Once the driver determines that everyone is safe and that no one has sustained any serious injuries, they are to run through a checklist of things to avoid bigger problems.
Examples of things you should do right after the accident include contacting the authorities, gathering evidence, and speaking to the other driver involved. This may also be the time when you find out that the other driver is not insured.
Don’t let the driver being uninsured deter you from acting, though. Failing to act correctly at this point lowers the chances of you filing a successful claim with your insurer. Mentioned below are things you must do if you want to file a claim for your uninsured motorist coverage.
Collect as Much Information and Evidence as You Can
Gathering evidence and information remains incredibly important even if you know that the other driver cannot cover your expenses. Don’t assume that your insurer will take your word for it simply because you are their client. They will still require you to provide evidence before they issue a payout.
Collect evidence by taking pictures of the accident scene and talking to witnesses. You should also talk to the other driver and get their contact information.
Assuming that the police are already on the scene, you should also ask for their contact details. The findings from their investigation will prove helpful later when your insurer is investigating your claim. The police can confirm that you were not the one who caused the accident, thereby giving your insurer no easy way to deny your claim.
File a Claim Immediately
Not everyone is aware of this, but some insurers limit how long you can wait to file a claim for uninsured motorist coverage. The window for you to act may close by the time you're ready to send your claim.
That time limit could prove problematic if you sustained serious injuries. You may have a hard time moving around, so filing your claim can be a challenge unto itself.
Hire a lawyer and have them take care of the insurance claim while you recover to get around the issue of the time limit. It’s also a good idea to hire a lawyer even if you’re well enough to handle the filing process on your own.
Prepare to Submit Additional Evidence
Insurance companies don’t turn profits by approving all claims without investigating them first. With that in mind, it would be smart to gather more evidence even after you filed your claim.
The additional evidence may contain your medical bills or perhaps the findings from the police officers who investigated the accident. Show your insurer that your claim is legitimate, and they need to cover your expenses, and this is another matter that your lawyer can help with.
Contest Your Insurer’s Decision
Ideally, your insurer will review the evidence you provided and conclude that paying out the claim is appropriate. That’s what we all want to happen, but things won’t always turn out that way.
Your insurer may be adamant that some of the expenses you’ve included have nothing to do with the accident. The insurance company may send a counteroffer to you, and that may be something you find unacceptable.
To resolve a stalemate such as that, you and your insurer may need to head to arbitration. Your lawyer will help you prepare better for that process and increase the odds that things will turn out in your favor.
Is Uninsured Motorist Coverage Required throughout the United States?
Unlike auto insurance, uninsured motorist coverage is not mandated in every part of the country. However, there are some states that require it.
According to the Insurance Information Institute, the states that require uninsured motorist coverage are:
- New Jersey
- New York
- North Carolina
- North Dakota
- South Carolina
- South Dakota
- West Virginia
In addition to those states, the District of Columbia also requires drivers to have uninsured motorist coverage.
What Is Underinsured Motorist Coverage?
While looking up uninsured motorist coverage, you will inevitably encounter the term underinsured motorist coverage. The two policies in question are similar in a lot of ways.
Both policies can cover your expenses if the other driver was at fault. Depending on the policy you take out, you can secure coverage for medical expenses as well as potential damage to your vehicle.
There are two main differences between uninsured and underinsured motorist coverage plans, though.
The first point of dissimilarity is when they come into play.
Uninsured motorist coverage accounts for drivers who have no auto insurance. In contrast, underinsured motorist coverage answers for those drivers who don’t carry enough insurance.
Having to pay out of pocket to cover expenses that the other driver cannot shoulder can be difficult. The underinsured motorist coverage policy could end up helping you out of a tough spot.
The other significant dissimilarity between the two policies is they don't require underinsured motorist coverage in every states. Make sure you read up on the requirements in your state before purchasing any new policy.
What Is Personal Injury Protection?
There’s one more type of insurance policy you need to know about if you want to be always protected while you’re driving. That policy in question is personal injury protection.
Personal injury protection is all about keeping you safe no matter what happens while you’re on the road. The biggest difference between a personal injury protection plan and the other coverage plans we’ve talked about already is that it can act as a safety net in more situations.
Both uninsured and underinsured motorist coverage plans only protect you if they determine that another driver caused the accident. According to Investopedia, the person who caused the accident is irrelevant if a claim will be filed against a personal injury protection plan. It will take effect no matter who is at fault for what happened.
Another notable feature of personal injury protection plans is that they cover you and everyone else in your vehicle at the time of the accident. Everyone inside the car will be protected regardless of whether they have health insurance.
Personal injury protection plans may also carry some additional benefits. For instance, some plans cover lost wages along with your medical expenses. It would be great to have that extra money around while you’re recovering from your injuries.
The big drawback with personal injury protection plans is that they aren’t available everywhere. They are available only in no-fault states. Even if you do want to take out a personal injury protection plan, there’s a chance you cannot do so.
Dealings with insurance companies can be complex, and they may use all kinds of tactics to discourage you from pursuing your uninsured motorist coverage claim. Handle those matters better by working with an experienced lawyer. Reach out to us today at the Saeedian Law Group and let us help settle the issues with your insurer.