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Who Are You Protecting?

Posted by attorney Joyce Sweinberg

A look at PA Auto Insurance: UM and UIM Coverage

When people purchase auto insurance, they often buy very high limits for liability coverage and take the lowest possible limits for underinsured and uninsured coverage. Who are you protecting, anyway? Not just the other guy, but yourself and your family as well. That is what insurance is all about!!! To insure yourself in the event of harm. Let's take a look...

Liability insurance covers your liability to the other driver if you cause an accident. This means that if you cause an accident and it is considered your fault, you are liable to the other party for damages and injuries you might cause.

Underinsured motorist (UIM) coverage is just that...insurance that you pay for to cover you if the other party is underinsured. Uninsured motorist (UM) coverage is insurance that you pay for just in case the other party is uninsured (it DOES happen). What does that mean? Let's say you are in an accident and it is the other party's fault. You are injured, badly. The other party did not do so well when he/she chose liability coverage and is only covered for liability to the other driver (you) for $15,000.00 in damages. Meanwhile, you were being frugal when you chose your own insurance and while you took $100,000.00 in liability coverage for any damages you might have caused to another person, you only took $15,000.00 in underinsured/uninsured (UIM/UM) motorist coverage. You wanted to save in auto insurance premiums but instead you lost in auto insurance coverage.

What does this mean? It means that while your damages may well exceed the total of $30,000.00 you can get in combination from the other driver's liability policy ($15,000.00) and from your own underinsured (UIM) coverage ($15,000.00), you will not get a penny more than the $30,000.00 in combined coverage. While there are sometimes ways to sue the liable party directly for money in excess of their coverage, good luck! There is also the possibility of stacking vehicles, but that is another topic, to be covered elsewhere, and it is likely that if you took low UIM/UM coverage, you probably scrimped on and rejected stacking. Besides, it is only available if you have more than one vehicle insured by the policy. And, if the other party is uninsured, you would only collect your UM policy limits of $15,000.00.

What should you do? You should purchase underinsured(UIM) and uninsured (UM) motorist coverage in amounts equal to what you purchase in liability coverage. So it might cost a little more in premiums, but this is a perfect example of getting what you pay for. You cannot purchase more in UIM or UM than what you purchase in liability...the Pennsylvania State legislature prohibits this, but they allow you to protect yourself for less. Go figure :-) Don't listen to them...listen to me!!!

Always buy UIM and UM in amounts equal to what you purchase in liability insurance. Do it now!!! Check your policy. Look in the section where it lists UIM/UM coverage. Go call your agent and have them make the change. Get UIM/UM limits equal to your liability limits, and make sure you get decent liability limits. It is well worth the few extra dollars in premiums. Who are you protecting? You are protecting yourself and your family.

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