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The Importance of Having Uninsured or Underinsured Motorist Coverage

  • By: John Rosenberg
  • Published: 02/17/2011

Everyone knows that liability insurance is required when you own or drive a car. In California, the minimum liability insurance coverage provides $15,000.00 of coverage per person and $30,000.00 per accident. This protects you from bodily injury damage claims if you are at fault for an accident up to those limits. But, what happens if someone else causes an accident that injures you or your loved ones? Your liability coverage does not cover you for your injuries caused by another person. Are you willing to depend on someone else to have enough insurance coverage, [or any coverage for that matter] to protect you or your family? By some estimates, 20% to 40% of the drivers on the roads are uninsured. Relying on others to protect you is a mistake that puts you and your family at risk for serious injuries without good financial protection.

Uninsured motorist coverage provides protection for you if you are in an accident that was caused by someone else who has no insurance. In California, uninsured motorist coverage automatically includes underinsured motorist coverage. This coverage protects you if the person who hit you has insurance in an amount less than you. Let me give you an example: Lets say another driver runs a red light at totals your car. You become injured; you are taken by ambulance to the hospital and undergo testing, examination and care for serious injuries. The injuries knock you out of work for 3 months while you heal and get treatment. Your total medical bills are $20,000.00. You lose another $15,000.00 in income. It takes 9 months before you feel good again. You returned to work, not because you were well, but you could not afford to take more time off of work, so you work in pain and with limitations. You claim $35,000.00 in actual economic damages, plus another $50,000.00 in general damages for you pain and suffering. So your total losses are $85,000.00. Unfortunately, the at fault driver only had minimum coverage and his insurance company is willing to pay the policy limits of $15,000.00. Its not enough to cover your losses. Not even enough to cover all of your medical bills. What do you do?

If you had uninsured motorist coverage in the amount of $100,000.00, you would be covered. Your uninsured motorist coverage would pay up to an additional $85,000.00 over and above the $15,000.00 you recovered from the at fault party’s insurance company. Uninsured motorist coverage is inexpensive. It is important because it covers you and your family. When you have this important insurance, you are taking steps to protect yourself and your family and taking control of what can happen out of the hands of strangers who may not carry enough insurance to protect you.

I am constantly shocked that insurance agents do not explain the importance uninsured motorist insurance to their customers. Many agents do not understand this coverage. I think you should provide at least as much protection for yourself and your family as you provide for others in your insurance coverage. That means carry more than minimum liability coverage on your policy and an equal amount of uninsured motorist coverage. If you can afford it, carry at least $100,000.00 of liability coverage and $100,000.00 of uninsured motorist coverage. Hopefully you will never need it, but, the chances of being hit and injured by an uninsured motorist, or someone with minimum insurance coverage is too high to risk.

John Rosenberg

John P. Rosenberg has been representing clients
who have suffered serious personal injuries and
accidents for...Read More