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Why Uninsured Motorist Coverage Is a Top Priority for All Drivers

Written by Berkowitz

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Connecticut’s Dedicated Car Accident Injury Attorney

When another driver hits your car, you would assume that their insurance company would pay for the damage to your vehicle and any injuries you suffer. Unfortunately, it does not always work that way – especially when the other party has no automobile insurance.

Uninsured and underinsured motorist insurance is what protects you from this very scenario. These coverages come from your insurance company and prevent you from paying out of pocket for accidents that you did not cause. If you have put off adding uninsured motorist coverage to your insurance policy, there are a few reasons to reconsider.

Why Stamford Motorists Should Have Uninsured Motorist Coverage

According to the Insurance Information Institute, approximately 13 percent of motorists in the country do not have auto insurance. Furthermore, a clear majority of drivers do not have enough automobile insurance to cover a severe accident if one were to occur. Therefore, you need extra protection on your end so that you are not financially liable for accident costs.

If you think that you do not need uninsured or underinsured motorist coverage, here are a few reasons to reconsider.

Uninsured Motorist Coverage Is Relatively Inexpensive

When you compare how much you would pay out of pocket for your injuries versus the few dollars each month you pay for uninsured or underinsured motorist coverage, you might feel the insurance premiums are worth the cost. Most of the time motorists only spend $10 or less per month – and an accident will easily cost more than that when it comes to property damage and injuries.

You Have Extra Protection for Passengers Too

If you are driving with passengers and you are hit by an uninsured motorist, you are still responsible for the damages to your passengers. With uninsured and underinsured motorist coverage you can help your passengers with medical costs and personal property damage.

More People Are Underinsured than You Know

Do you purchase the bare minimum insurance required by the state? If you do, you are not alone. More people buy the bare minimum required by their state, but this is not enough to cover a severe motor vehicle accident. Therefore, after a severe accident, most people who cause these accidents do not have the coverage to pay for the damage done.

Consider it this way: the state of Connecticut requires that you have the following minimums for your insurance:

  • $20,000 for bodily injury per person per accident
  • $10,000 for property damage per accident
  • $40,000 for bodily injury per accident

When you look at the minimums the state requires, then compare that to the average cost of an ambulance ride to the hospital, hospital treatment (including emergency room treatments), and follow up appointments, you can see how it would quickly surpass your maximum policy.

It Protects Outside of Your Car Too

If you or a family member are riding in someone’s car and you are in an accident with an uninsured driver, you could still receive coverage from your underinsured and uninsured motorist policies. Also, if you were walking and someone who is without adequate insurance struck you, even as a pedestrian – your underinsured and uninsured coverage will kick in.

Underinsured and Uninsured Applies to Hit-And-Run Accidents

If you were involved in a severe accident with a motorist who left the scene of the crash, would you have enough insurance coverage for your injuries? In this instance, you would need uninsured or underinsured motorist coverage to pay for your medical costs and property damage, because you cannot identify the at-fault driver who would typically pay for your losses.

The State of Connecticut Requires Uninsured Motorist Coverage

If you have a registered vehicle in Connecticut, you are required to carry uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage. This is meant to offset your medical costs after an accident by an uninsured driver, underinsured driver, or driver who cannot be identified (i.e., hit and run).

The state imposes minimums on UM coverage as well, which is $20,000 per person and $40,000 per accident. Therefore, you should already have the state minimums tied to your insurance policy.

While the state minimums offer some protection, in a catastrophic accident that $40,000 might not be enough. Speak with your insurance representative to see how much UM coverage they recommend based on recent claims for the area.

How Much and What Type of UM Coverage Should a Driver Have?

It is always best to consult with an insurance broker or agent to determine how much coverage you should have. Not only do you want to protect yourself, but you want to protect your passengers in the event you are involved in a motor vehicle accident with an uninsured/underinsured driver.

Some ways to ensure you have adequate coverage include:

  • Get a Deductible You Can Afford – If you must use your uninsured motorist coverage, realize that your deductible is required at the time you file a claim. Therefore, ensure the deductible amount you pick is one that you can afford. While a higher deductible yields a lower premium, if you do not have the deductible amount in your bank, you should lower the deductible requirement.
  • Consider Your Coverage Amounts – Your uninsured motorists coverage liability limits should match your auto primary liability limits. Typically, this results in a coverage amount of $100,000 per individual and $300,000 per accident.
  • Insure for a Total Wreck – If you have a car loan, you may be required to get gap coverage by the lender so that if the vehicle is totaled, you do not have to pay the remaining balance – which could be thousands over what the car is worth. Also, you should insure your car for a total wreck regardless if you have a loan. If an uninsured motorist hits your car and totals it, you want to ensure that your car is paid off or replaced – without you paying for it out-of-pocket.

What Happens if You Are Involved in an Accident with an Underinsured Driver?

With so many drivers out there with no insurance or a lack of enough coverage, if you are in an accident with them, the first thing you should do is turn to your insurance policy. Look over your uninsured or underinsured motorist coverage to see what limits you have in place. Also, speak with an attorney to explore your options for compensation.

Even if a motorist does not have insurance coverage, you may have other avenues to collect compensation for your injuries.

Reviewing Your UM Coverage Limitations

UM coverage has limits on when you can use the compensation and how much you will receive. Here are just some limitations you might have on your policy:

  • Some UM coverage will apply to hit-and-run drivers who remain unidentified. If your vehicle was forced off the road by the uninsured driver, then it may not provide you with compensation.
  • Other UM coverages may allow you to collect for hit and runs when you can identify the driver of that vehicle.
  • If injured while at work, your UM may cover the automobile accident, but it may be reduced once any workers’ compensation payments start.

Filing a UM Claim

When you submit a claim for your underinsured motorist protection, you must go through the insurance claims process. An insurance claims adjuster will contact you for a liability claim. The adjuster may work for your insurance company, but you will still want to negotiate with them to ensure you receive a good settlement. You will also negotiate with them about the other party’s liability, and any extent of your responsibility – if you played a role in the injury or accident.

Suing the Uninsured Driver

In most cases, those who drive without insurance or lower policy limits do so because they cannot afford adequate coverage. However, if you do not have uninsured motorist or underinsured motorist coverage and the other party has no insurance, you can still sue that driver for the damages directly.

While you may win the judgment in court, collecting is not always easy. Your attorney will need to find ways to collect, whether that is through payments, reviewing the defendant’s assets, or finding a way for them to pay the judgment due.

How Do Payment Plans Work?

Payment plans are an option when the defendant does have some money, and the court feels it is enough to satisfy the judgment awarded in your lawsuit. In this instance, the defendant would make payments to the court, which would then be forwarded to you.

Your attorney can help work out the payment plan arrangements and find ways to expedite the payments so that you are not waiting years to receive your entire settlement.

Injured in a Motor Vehicle Accident? Contact a Connecticut Attorney

If you were injured in a motor vehicle accident, speak with an injury attorney. Uninsured motorists and underinsured motorists are out there on Connecticut roadways, and you do not want to find yourself without options for compensation.

Contact Berkowitz and Hanna LLC today to schedule a no-obligation case evaluation. Call us or contact us online to get started.