Underinsured and Uninsured Motorist Coverage and Claims
Underinsured motorist coverage (UM) and uninsured motorist coverage (UIM) are often misunderstood and, for that reason, a lot of drivers do not purchase it. But declining underinsured and uninsured motorist coverage is a mistake. Underinsured and uninsured motorist coverage protects you in the event you are in an accident with a driver who does not have insurance or does not have enough insurance to pay for the losses suffered by you and your family (or other occupants of your car) as a result of other driver’s negligent error. Stated differently, this type of coverage is not for the driver who does not have insurance or does not have enough insurance. It is for you, your family, and any other occupant of your vehicle at the time of the wreck.
Even when people understand the purpose of uninsured and underinsured motorist coverage, there are many reasons why they do not purchase it:
- Misunderstanding of the Risk - Many people think that they do not need UM/UIM because insurance is required by law, but nearly 1 in 4 drivers in the State of Tennessee do not have any insurance at all. Think about that for a minute and then think about how many vehicles are around you as you drive to and from work or the grocery store. For instance, as you drive to work on a 2-way road in the morning, one out of every five drivers you meet on the roadway probably does not have insurance. In addition to uninsured motorists, there is another large percentage of drivers who are only carrying the minimum legally mandated coverage of $25,000 per person /$50,000 per accident. While that sounds like a lot of money, consider this: $25,000 (the maximum amount one individual can recover under a $25,000/$50,000 policy) likely will not cover the expenses associated with one day at Vanderbilt’s trauma unit. In a serious accident, a driver who only has the minimum coverage is unquestionably underinsured.
- Cost – Understandably, drivers are trying to keep their car insurance premiums low but this is not an area where you want to avoid costs by declining coverage or purchasing a low amount. Again, this coverage is for you and might be the only thing that protects you if you are involved in a serious car accident. This coverage is surprisingly affordable and to add it to your existing coverage would only require a minimal change in your budgeting. While the cost varies from insurance company to insurance company, the state you live in and the amount of coverage you buy, underinsured/uninsured motorist coverage can be as low as $5.00 a month – the cost of one fancy coffee.
- Health Insurance – Many people think they do not need underinsured or uninsured motorist coverage because they have health insurance that will pay for their medical bills if they are involved in a serious accident. Yes, health insurance will pay for your medical bills arising from the wreck (you still have to pay deductibles and co-payments) but health insurance will not pay for lost wages, pain and suffering, permanent impairments, scarring, modifications to your home and other expenses that often arise following a serious car accident. Just as importantly, your health insurance will be able to subrogate or recoup their costs from any money recovered in your car accident case. What this means is your health insurance company will claim first right to take your uninsured motorist/underinsured motorist coverage and re-pay itself for what it paid for medical bills arising from the wreck. So, when you buy underinsured or uninsured motorist coverage, you want to buy enough coverage to account for this “right of subrogation” by your health insurance.
One last point about uninsured and underinsured motorist coverage, if you have it and are involved in a serious accident, you will still want legal representation. Even though you will be dealing with “your” insurance company, your positions will be adverse, that is, they will want to pay out as little money as possible on your claim while you will want full compensation.
At the Law Offices of John Day, our award-winning lawyers have more than 100 years of combined experience in dealing with underinsured and uninsured motorist claims, and we would be honored to help you too. For a free initial consultation, simply call one of our three conveniently located Middle Tennessee offices. We handle all accident cases and underinsured/uninsured claims on a contingency basis so we only get paid if we recover money for you and your family. The law only allows you a limited time so do not delay; give us a call today.