In California, every automobile insurance policy must include uninsured motorist coverage unless the insured waives the coverage in writing. It protects you when driving a car and you are injured by an uninsured driver or a hit and run driver. It also protects you if you are a pedestrian or bicyclist and are hit by an uninsured driver or hit and run driver.
How Much Does Uninsured Motorist Cover
The policy will cover all damages that the uninsured driver would be legally responsible for. For example, it will cover damages for pain and suffering, medical expenses, time off work etc. The coverage will only be limited by the amount of your coverage. In California the minimum coverage is $15,000.00. However, to protect yourself you can purchase a much higher limit (before your accident occurs).
Requirements for Hit and Run Claims
California law requires that there be contact between the hit and run vehicle and your vehicle. If there is no contact, the hit and run claim will be denied. Contact however need not be major, even the slightest touching is sufficient. Also, you will be required to file a police report.
Following your accident, you should file a SR-1 form with the DMV. Then an SR-19 form will need to be filed afterwards to prove the other driver was uninsured. It is a good idea to always file this, even though some companies may not require this. The forms can be obtained from the DMV website.
Settlement of the Claim
If you cannot agree on a fair settlement with the insurance company, you can demand binding arbitration. You are not entitled to a jury trial for an uninsured motorist claim.
The Statute of Limitations
A lawsuit must be filed against the uninsured driver or arbitration must be formally demanded within two years of the date of the accident, or the claim will be barred by law. When demanding arbitration, you should be familiar with and follow the procedures set forth in your policy.
Pursuing an uninsured motorist claim against your insurance company can be a daunting experience. Typically, the insurance companies fight these claims as vigorously as third party claims and often legal assistance is required. It is always a good idea to at least consult with a personal injury attorney before pursuing one of these claims on your own to avoid mistakes that can later diminish the value of your claim.