Since people naturally want to their keep insurance costs down, many may ask, “Why buy uninsured motorist coverage?” Our answer is that you aren’t adequately insured without it, and it’s well worth adding to your policy.
Did you know that as many as 20% of Texas drivers lack auto insurance? This is higher than the average of around 14% of drivers nationwide, according to the Insurance Research Council.
If a bad driver injures you, how can you collect payments for your losses if that driver lacks auto insurance or has insufficient insurance? The best way is to have coverage protecting you against uninsured motorists (UM) or underinsured motorists (UIM).
When you have uninsured motorist coverage, you can seek payments for your injury costs (such as medical bills and lost wages) from your own insurance company, even though the other driver was at fault.
Uninsured motorist insurance also can help you if a hit-and-run driver who isn’t apprehended hurts you. In hit-and-run crashes, uninsured motorists coverage can apply in the absence of the at-fault driver.
This coverage also can help if an uninsured motorist strikes you as a pedestrian or as a bicycle rider, or if you are a passenger in someone else’s vehicle and are injured when the car is hit by a driver who lacks insurance.
In short, uninsured motorist coverage can help you significantly in a wide variety of car crash scenarios and our law firm advises you to get it.
Texas law requires all drivers to purchase auto liability insurance. Liability insurance pays for another person’s costs if you are at fault in an accident. Minimum coverage for Texas is $25,000 for each injured person, or $50,000 for all injured persons in the same accident, or what’s known as 25/50 coverage.
As you can see, drivers who have minimum liability insurance may not have enough insurance to cover damages to other drivers or passengers. That’s why you also need coverage to protect you from underinsured motorists, not just uninsured motorists.
This coverage is optional in Texas, but according to Texas law insurers must offer you optional coverage against both underinsured and uninsured motorists when you purchase your policy.
If you decline to purchase this for your policy, your insurer must get that in writing. To claim you did not purchase UM or UIM coverage, the insurer must be able to produce a signed statement which indicates you refused it.
If your insurer cannot produce this signed statement, but you did not purchase UM or UIM coverage, you will have the chance to purchase it retroactively in order to cover your claim.
UM or UIM coverage can protect you and your family members or passengers by paying for medical costs, funeral expenses, auto repairs or rentals, lost salary, disfigurement, suffering and pain up to the dollar limits that you purchased.
If you are unsure if you purchased uninsured motorist or underinsured motorist coverage when you bought your policy, or if you are unsure of the dollar limits of such coverage, contact your insurance representative.
When you buy such coverage, you’re in good company. The Texas DMV says Texans spend $900 million yearly on UM and UIM coverage. That is needed because deadbeat drivers don’t obey the law and purchase their own coverage.
What are the options if you lack UM or UIM coverage and a bad driver with no insurance injures you? Unfortunately, your options are severely limited in such cases.
If the driver was identified, you can target the at-fault driver with a personal injury lawsuit. But generally, people who lack auto insurance also lack sufficient funds or assets to pay for the costs caused by their negligence at the wheel if they lose such a lawsuit.
Another problem may be if the bad driver has insurance, but only the minimum amount, and your medical costs and other expenses go beyond that. If you’d purchased UIM coverage, it would cover costs above those covered by that driver’s own insurance. But if not — again, you have a problem.
That’s why Jim Adler & Associates advises you to get as much UM and UIM coverage as you have liability coverage on your own policy.
As for how to make an uninsured motorist claim, you can simply make this claim as you would any auto accident claim against your insurer.
When insurers receive the claim they will begin their investigation. As a general rule, always be careful how much information you provide. Insurers may try to get more information than they need — information which they might use against you in order to minimize your claim or avoid paying altogether.
For such reasons, you should get a car accident lawyer on your side before dealing at length with your insurance company – and certainly before signing anything or giving any recorded statements to your insurer. A car wreck attorney with our law firm has experience dealing with insurance companies and can help you to avoid their tricks and self-serving tactics.
Insurers like to pretend they’re on your side in their TV commercials. In reality, when you make a claim they are your adversary and will fight to keep the money you paid for your policy.
You can be protected against your insurance company’s low-ball tactics by getting help from an experienced car accident lawyer with our law firm. Contact us today for a free legal review of your case.