Four Reasons Why You Should Increase Your Uninsured and Underinsured Motorist Coverage
This legal guide discusses several reasons why you should consider increasing the amounts of uninsured motorist coverage and underinsured motorist coverage available under your own car insurance policy. Doing so may help protect you and your loved ones in the event of an automobile accident.
What is Uninsured and Underinsured Motorist Coverage?A car accident resulting in serious injuries can become even more devastating if there is insufficient automobile insurance to properly compensate the injured party. Unfortunately, in my line of work, this is a situation that occurs all too often. In such a case, a plaintiff with debilitating or permanent injuries may find themselves inadequately compensated for long-lasting physical and financial injuries.
This legal guide discusses several reasons why you should consider increasing the amounts of uninsured motorist coverage and underinsured motorist coverage available under your own car insurance policy. Doing so may help protect you and your loved ones financially in the event you are injured by a negligent driver who is either uninsured or carries an insufficient amount of liability coverage.
Uninsured motorist ("UM") coverage is automobile insurance that provides benefits for individuals covered under the insurance policy when those covered individuals are injured by an at-fault driver who does not have his or her own liability insurance. Likewise, underinsured motorist ("UIM") coverage pays benefits to covered individuals who are injured by an at-fault driver who has liability insurance but carries an insufficient amount of coverage to fully compensate the injured persons.
In Arizona, automobile owners are required by law to carry a minimum of only $15,000 per person/$30,000 per accident in liability coverage. As one might imagine, medical bills arising from a car accident can quickly exceed $15,000 per person, especially if the victim is seriously injured and requires emergency medical treatment or surgery.
So, what can you do to protect yourself and your loved ones in the event you are injured by an uninsured or underinsured driver?
1) Approximately 1 in 10 drivers in Arizona may be uninsured.One source estimates that 10% of Arizona drivers were uninsured in 2012. The fact that one in ten Arizona drivers may be uninsured increases the likelihood that you will be involved in a collision with an uninsured driver and will need to use your uninsured motorist coverage at some point.
This figure does not even include the number of Arizona drivers who may be underinsured, which is probably much higher.
2) The minimum requirements for UM and UIM motorist coverage in Arizona are inadequate.Arizona law requires motorists to carry a minimum of $15,000 per person/$30,000 per accident in uninsured and underinsured motorist coverage. Depending on the circumstances of your accident, these limits may be inadequate to compensate you for accident-related injuries.
A single accident can easily result in medical expenses well in excess of $30,000, plus days or weeks of lost wages. If the at-fault driver is uninsured or carries minimum liability limits, and the injured motorist has only the minimum amount of underinsured motorist coverage, the injured person may very well be insufficiently compensated unless other sources of insurance coverage are available.
3) Increasing the limits of UM and UIM coverage is relatively inexpensive.Uninsured and underinsured motorist coverage can generally be increased above the minimum limits at a cost to the policyholder of just a few dollars each month. Many individuals find this is a small price to pay for the peace of mind of knowing coverage will be available to them and their passengers in they event they are hit by an uninsured or underinsured driver.
4) An uninsured driver is unlikely to have sufficient personal assets to satisfy a judgment.If you are hit by an uninsured driver and you do not have uninsured motorist coverage or your limits are too low to cover your medical expenses and other damages, your only chance at recovery may be to pursue a case against the uninsured driver. However, this option generally involves expensive and time-consuming litigation. Even if you are successful in obtaining a favorable judgment against the uninsured driver, your ability to recover will depend upon whether the uninsured driver has personal assets from which you can collect. Unfortunately, those who are willing to drive uninsured are unlikely to have any significant assets which could be used to satisfy a judgment.