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Why Uninsured Motorist Coverage Is So Important

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Shattered windshield after car accident
Posted on January 8, 2020

Unless you live in a major metropolitan area, it is likely that you own a car.  According to Pew Research Center, about 88 percent of American adults owned a car in 2015.  With owning a vehicle comes the responsibility to carry some form of car insurance. However, this does not mean every person who drives a car actually has insurance.  In fact, it is estimated that about one in eight drivers in the United States, or about 13 percent, are not insured.

What does this have to do with me? you may be thinking.  I have car insurance.  Let’s consider the following scenario.  Say you are driving your car through an intersection where you have the right of way and you get t-boned by another driver who runs a red light.  Now you are in the hospital with medical bills piling up, not to mention the cost of fixing your car.  Will insurance cover this?

If the other person does not have insurance, the answer might be no.  Even if they have a small policy, it may not be enough to cover your medical bills.  This is why underinsured motorist (UM) coverage is so important.

What is UM coverage?

Underinsured motorist coverage helps you get the money you need in the event of being in an accident that involves a driver without sufficient coverage.  You can check if you already have UM coverage by looking at your insurance policy or contacting your insurance agent.  Your insurance agent most likely discussed UM coverage with you when you were first purchasing insurance, but it is not required.  Many younger drivers elect for the cheapest plans possible.  If you have the same car insurance you signed up for when you got your license, you may want to consider speaking with an insurance agent about updating your policy.

How does UM coverage help?

UM coverage makes up for the lack of insurance money that comes in from a motorist with little to no insurance coverage.  For example, if you are in an accident and have to pay $75,000 in medical bills and the underinsured motorist’s policy is not likely to cover the full amount of damages.  Let’s say their policy limits are for $15,000.  While better than nothing, it can seem like nothing in the face of such a large bill.

UM coverage makes up for this deficit.  If you have $75,000 in underinsured motorist coverage, this money can come from your own insurance company.  Your UM policy can offset the amount the underinsured driver is able to pay you.

How much UM coverage can I buy?

There is a limit on the amount of underinsured motorist coverage you can purchase.  It corresponds directly with the amount of optional bodily injury (BI) coverage you have.  This is for other people in the event that you are at fault in an accident.  You can’t have more UM coverage than BI coverage.  Another way of saying this: you can’t protect yourself from other drivers more than you protect other drivers from yourself.  It must be either a 50 – 50 split or you must carry higher Bodily Injury coverage.

Hurt in an accident?

Have you been injured in a car accident in Tampa and have questions about what to do next?  Vanguard Attorneys can help.  Contact us at (813) 471-4444 for a free consultation.