Uninsured Motorist Coverage - California

Don’t Be Penny Wise and Pound Foolish.

Go to Home Page

Go to Vehicle Collision

This article explains the wisdom of having substantial uninsured motorist coverage protection on your automobile insurance policy. The good news is that such coverage is relatively inexpensive to purchase.

Purchase as much uninsured motorist (“UM") coverage on your automobile policy as you can reasonably afford.

What UM Protects: Uninsured Motorist coverage protects you and your family for losses and damages caused by an uninsured or underinsured driver.

Why You Should Have Substantial UM Coverage: There are a number of reasons to buy UM coverage or increase your UM coverage.

1. Inexpensive: Generally speaking, UM coverage is extremely or relatively inexpensive.

2. Protection in Serious Collision: UM coverage provides good protection if you are significantly injured in a vehicular collision. For example, if you become unable to work and are unable earn money for a long period of time due to another uninsured motorist’s negligent driving, UM coverage would pay such provable losses as well as for other damages.

3. Protection as a Pedestrian: You may even utilize UM coverage benefits if you or a family member, as a pedestrian, are struck by an uninsured or underinsured driver.

4. Hit-and-Run Protection: UM coverage applies to hit-and-run collisions. If you or your vehicle is struck by a hit-and-run driver, report the loss immediately to law enforcement. Additionally, report the loss immediately to your insurance company. By so doing, you will be sure qualify to utilize the UM coverage. Review your policy regarding conditions for using UM coverage in a hit-and-run accident.

5. Underinsured Motorist Protection (UIM): If the negligent driver is insured, but does not have enough insurance to cover your losses, UM coverage (if the UM coverage amount is higher than the negligent driver’s liability coverage amount), will provide additional coverage for your losses. For example, if you have a $100,000 UM policy, and the negligent driver has a $25,000.00 liability policy, you have $75,000.00 of potential UM coverage on the claim. Please note that, depending on your policy and/or what state you reside in, the coverage formula may be different than what is stated above.

[See related article: Uninsured/Underinsured Motorist Claims].

Consult with your insurance agent. Talk to your agent about how much you can or should raise your UM coverage if you already have it. If you don’t yet have uninsured motorist coverage, talk to your agent about obtaining it.

Insurance policies may differ. Each UM policy from each insurance provider may be different. Such differences may affect, modify, or, in some cases, not cover one or more of the areas that have been discussed above. Therefore, determine what the policy covers and excludes by asking your insurance agent and by reading the policy.

Situations exist where uninsured motorist coverage might not be necessary. Uninsured motorist coverage may overlap with other types of insurance coverage that you already have, for example, medical insurance, disability insurance, personal injury protection (PIP) in “no fault" states, and others). Therefore, you need to assess whether or not UM is necessary or worth the additional expense. Again, I recommend that you discuss these factors with your insurance agent.

My Numerous Experiences: In my experience as a California lawyer, the benefit of UM protection far exceeds its cost. I have personally represented many clients who, due to having limited UM coverage, recovered far less money than they were entitled to. Further, I have been contacted by quite a number of persons who did not have UM coverage, were seriously injured by an uninsured driver and, as a result, suffered significant financial loss.

Injured With No UM Coverage: If you injured due to the negligence of an uninsured motorist, and you didn’t have UM coverage, contact an attorney at law anyway. An attorney may, in some cases, be able to discover other sources of recovery. However, oftentimes, a lawyer will not discover alternative insurance or other recovery sources. In such a case, the failure to purchase UM coverage may result in no recovery or a severely diminished recovery for your losses. Therefore, the wise choice in most cases is to purchase as much UM coverage as you can reasonably afford!

Factual Example: A husband, wife, and their two children are traveling in their car to the beach for a relaxing day of fun and sun. Suddenly, and without warning, their car is broadsided in an intersection at high speed by a large sedan which ran a red light. The driver of the large sedan is unemployed, uninsured, and has few assets. Both the husband and wife receive serious injuries. Both of them are unable to work for more than one year. The two children received serious injuries as well.

In this case, with adequate UM coverage, this family would be entitled to have their losses paid under the UM policy. Without adequate UM coverage, and depending on what other types of insurance this family have, this scenario could result in financial catastrophe.

Summary: Uninsured motorist provides protection for you and your family against uninsured drivers, underinsured drivers, and hit-and-run drivers. UM even covers automobile versus pedestrian collisions. With adequate coverage amounts, it will provide needed financial protection when injuries are serious, disabling and prolonged. Uninsured motorist coverage is inexpensive to purchase. Depending on the laws of your state, the policy of the insurance carrier, and the other types of coverage you have, UM coverage may provide you with protection that you might not otherwise have.



Author: Attorney Matthew B. Tozer

Vehicle Collision

Go to Home Page