Uninsured Motorist Insurance
The Answer to Six Important Questions About Your Automobile Insurance Policy:
Approximately one out of every three drivers on California Roads today is uninsured or inadequately insured. These “uninsured motorists” typically drive the most unreliable and unsafe cars, and are the least careful drivers. Nearly one out of every two-car accidents is caused by an uninsured or inadequately insured driver.
What can you do to protect yourself financially from them?
WHAT IS UNINSURED MOTORIST COVERAGE?
Uninsured (including underinsured) motorist coverage is a part of almost every automobile policy sold in California. Your uninsured motorist coverage is designed to compensate you for a loss which you sustain, and which is caused by a driver who is uninsured, or inadequately insured. Your insurance company is required by law to include uninsured motorist coverage as part of every automobile policy written, unless you specifically decline it, in writing. Coverage is usually designated on the face page of your automobile insurance policy by the letter or letters “U” or “UM”.
WHO IS INSURED BY MY UNINSURED MOTORIST POLICY?
When you purchase uninsured motorist coverage as part of a policy, it affords coverage for you and all members of your family who reside in your household with you. It would also include any minor children of yours who do not reside with you or your children who are away at college.
You do not have to be an automobile driver or passenger in order to be eligible for benefits. Your automobile UM policy applies even if you were a pedestrian, bicyclist, motorcyclist, or bystander, so long as the motorist who caused your injuries was uninsured or underinsured.
Your uninsured motorist coverage also applies for the benefit of other passengers in your car or other people driving your car with your permission, and who are injured by an uninsured or underinsured driver.
WHEN DOES AN UNINSURED MOTORIST POLICY APPLY?
Uninsured motorist vehicle coverage comes into play whenever anyone who is insured is injured by a driver who is uninsured or underinsured (does not have enough insurance to pay for the damages caused). As regards a claim for injuries, an uninsured driver includes a hit-and-run driver, so long as there is some actual contact from the hit-and-run driver’s vehicle. (Note: However, an unidentified hit-and -run driver is not considered an “uninsured motorist” for the purpose of damage to your car.”)
Underinsured motorist coverage only applies if the other driver’s liability limits are lower than your uninsured coverage limits. Thus, if the driver who causes the accident has a liability policy of $30,000.00 per person, you are not entitled to any uninsured or underinsured motorist benefits if your uninsured motorist coverage is for $30,000.00 per person/$60,000.00 aggregate. If, however, you have uninsured motorist coverage of $100,000.00 per person/$300,000.00 aggregate, you could receive up to the $70,000.00 difference from your own company for an injury to one person, and up to $240,000.00 additional insurance from your own company if there were injuries to three or more of your family members, or passengers in your car.
WHAT LOSSES ARE COVERED?
Uninsured motorist coverage is intended to compensate you for both your financial and your non-financial losses which you sustain, and for which you have a legal claim as a result of the negligence of an uninsured, underinsured, or hit-and-run driver. Your financial losses would include any medical expenses which you reasonably required as a result of such an incident, any loss of income or earnings, any diminution in your ability to earn money in the future, or any assorted out-of-pocket expenses such as household and related help and assistance.
Non-financial damages include such elements as loss of ability to enjoy or engage in certain activities as a result of injuries, pain and suffering, and other such subjective losses for which you are entitled to monetary compensation under the law. There is usually no exact way of pinpointing an appropriate amount of compensation for this factor, but insurance people and attorneys are often able to come to an accommodation based upon the severity of the injury, whether it fully heals, what kinds of treatment are necessary and how much time is required in order to achieve an optimum recovery.
HOW MUCH UNINSURED MOTORIST COVERAGE MUST MY INSURANCE COMPANY OFFER ME?
Your insurance company is only required to issue uninsured motorist policy in a minimum amount of $30,000.00 per person/ $60,000.00 aggregate, regardless of the fact that you might be purchasing a much higher liability policy (policy which pays others for their injuries when you are at fault). Furthermore, if your liability policy is less than $30,000.00/$60,000.00, your insurance company will only issue UM coverage in a matching amount. Thus, if you have a $15,000.00/$30,000.00 liability policy, your insurance company will offer uninsured motorist coverage for only $15,000.00/$30,000.00.
However, many, if not most insurance companies will allow you to purchase uninsured motorist benefits in an amount equal to your liability policy. Thus, if you have a $100,000.00/$300,000.00 liability policy for example, you usually will be able to purchase uninsured motorist benefits in that amount as well.
Many insurance companies will automatically issue a $30,000.00/$60,000.00 policy of uninsured motorist benefits when issuing a policy with higher liability limits. If this happens to you, contact your broker immediately and find out how much more it would cost to have your uninsured motorist benefits raised to match your liability policy limit.
HOW MUCH UNINSURED MOTORIST COVERAGE DO I NEED?
This of course is a very personal question, and there is no one correct answer. To some extent, the amount that you need will be tied in to the amount of liability insurance that you can afford.
Also, if you are a high-income earner, and a prolonged injury would substantially impair your earning capacity, you should have substantial UM protection.
In any event, no prudent person should have less than $100,000.00 per person/$300,000.00 aggregate of this sort of protection. Of course, this will mean that your liability policy needs to be written in that amount as well. The cost of purchasing this coverage may be a stretch financially for some people. However, the current situation existing in the State of California, makes an uninsured motorist protection of less than $100,000.00 per person/$300,000.00 aggregate extremely risky and if you can afford it, you should obtain even a higher limit. Keeping these suggested limits in mind, a good rule of thumb would be, let your uninsured motorist coverage match your liability coverage. Obtain at least as much protection for yourself and your family as you purchase for the protection of others.
Statistics: California Uninsured Drivers
More than 14% of all drivers in the United States operate their motor vehicles on our roadways with no kind of insurance coverage. In the State of California, that number is even higher; some recent estimates of uninsured motorist of Los Angles roads place the number at more than 25% of all drivers. With such high numbers it is always advised to purchase the maximum coverage available including uninsured and underinsured motorist coverage.
Young Drivers and Lack of Insurance:
Based on almost all statistic data young drivers are the age group most prone to fatal and catastrophic accident in Los Angeles and California. Also younger motorists have a higher rate of arrests for hit-and-run accidents. What makes things worse for California’s insured drivers is that younger drivers are much more likely to be uninsured or underinsured.
Always feel free to contact us regarding any issue you may have and we will assist you or refer you to someone that will assist you. We specialize in certain areas but we will always be willing to refer you to someone else that specializes in a different area.
Our firm provides free consultations to victims and family members. We will travel to your location and review your case with you.
At Pacific Coast Injury Law Center, we take motor vehicle accident cases on a contingency-fee basis. This means that we do not charge any legal fees unless we make a recovery for you. When we do secure financial compensation for your damages, our fees are paid as an agreed upon percentage of that settlement.
What To Do After an Accident:
Most accidents are unexpected and almost always stressful. Sometimes accidents are unavoidable no matter how much care or precaution you take. If you are in a motor vehicle accident or slip/trip and fall, we are here to help you.
Be prepared before an Accident Happens:
- Items to Keep Handy in Your Car:
- Your insurance information
- Pen and paper
- A seatbelt cutting tool
- Disposable Camera if you don’t have a cell phone with a camera
- Cones, warning triangles or emergency flares in your trunk
Immediately After an Accident:
- Stay calm, because getting upset will only makes things worse
- Pull over to the shoulder and get to safety
- Turn on your car’s hazard lights and if necessary use flares or cones
- Make sure everyone is ok and call an ambulance if necessary or you’re in doubt
- Call the police if there are injuries or there is significant property damage
- Call your insurance company to report the accident and request a tow truck if necessary
- It is important to gather information in case you need to make a claim later on
- Get the following information from all parties involved:
- Phone number
- Email address
- Make, model and year of the car
- License plate number
- Insurance carrier
- Insurance policy numbeer
- Take notes about the accident, including specific damages to all vehicles involved, witness information, and what you believed caused the accident
- Take notes about what the other driver’s said or what you heard witnesses say
If Police are Present:
- Get the officers name and badge or ID number or business card
- Get police report number (so a police report can be requested once it is prepared)
Take Photographs of:
- All vehicles, whether damaged or not
- The accident location
- The parties involved in the accident
- People involved with the accident
DO NOT DO THE ANY OF THE FOLLOWING:
- Release your social security number to anyone
- DO NOT ADMIT FAULT, even if you think you are
- Often times people involved in accidents do not have a complete understanding as to why the accident happened, so it is important to not just assume it’s your fault
If you or your loved one has been a motor vehicle accident, give us a call today.
FOR A FREE CONSULTATION CALL: (213) 457-3974