When attorneys get phone calls on serious auto accident cases the first thing they think of is insurance coverage. It’s not just that they’re wondering if there is a deep pocket – they are – but they’re primarily wondering if there is much of a pocket there at all.
As you probably know, California requires that all drivers in the state maintain a policy of insurance of at least $15,000 per person, $30,000 per accident. Because that is the lowest amount of coverage a driver can possess and still drive legally in the state, it is also the cheapest… and many, many drivers buy it for that reason.
What does that mean? If you are in an accident that is not your fault, and the driver that hit you has a $15,000/$30,000 policy, the most you can collect from that insurance policy is $15,000 no matter how severe your injuries are. If you broke a leg and incurred $18,000 in medical bills, and missed one month of work at $4,000, and endured a tremendous amount of pain and suffering and inconvenience, your claim against the bad driver’s insurance policy will be limited to $15,000 – not even enough to cover your financial losses.
This is where uninsured and underinsured motorist coverage comes in. A UM or UIM policy is a policy that you purchase from your own insurance company which will cover you in the claims like the one outlined above. Whenever your losses exceed the available insurance limits (of if the bad driver had no insurance at all), your UM or UIM policy will cover the losses above and beyond the available coverage.
There is one caveat: your UM or UIM policy must exceed that of the driver that hit you. If, for example, you purchased a UIM policy of $15,000/$30,000 and then were injured by a driver that had a liability policy of the same amount, you would not be able to tap into the UIM policy if your damages exceed the $15,000 limits. Under those facts, you must maintain a UM or UIM policy of more than $15,000/$30,000 to collect money above-and-beyond the bad driver’s policy.
The important points. First, always purchase UM and UIM coverage. If you don’t have it presently, call your insurance broker and get a quote. Second, make sure you purchase the highest amount of UM or UIM coverage you can afford, or the highest the insurance company will sell you. This coverage will protect you against all bad drivers in the world, many of whom are insufficiently insured to cover the damages they will cause.
If you have any questions about making a claim for UM or UIM coverage, feel free to give us a call at (866) 607-1325 or fill out our online questionnaire.