Uninsured or Underinsured Motorist Coverage (AKA, 'UM/UIM Coverage') is optional insurance coverage that can be added to any auto-liability insurance policy. It provides the insured with an extra layer of protection for the unfortunate, yet all too common, situation where the person responsible for the accident failed to purchase auto liability insurance or purchased minimal insurance that fails to cover the full extent of the loss.
California law requires that all vehicle owners to purchase auto liability insurance with limits of $15,000 per person and $30,000 per accident. Auto insurers are required to offer UM/UIM Coverage with the liability policy, but no one is legally required to purchase it. It is a wise decision to purchase the coverage because California has the most uninsured drivers on the road than any other state in the Union.
Many uninsured drivers are uninsured for a reason: they lack the financial ability to purchase the insurance, yet they choose to drive anyways. Uninsured drivers typically have fewer assets and less income and are therefore judgment proof - i.e., the injured person can obtain a legal judgment against them but that judgement cannot be enforced or collected since the uninsured person has no income or assets.
Underinsured Motorist Coverage applies when the driver at fault for the collision has minimal insurance that fails to cover the full extent of the loss. For example, the at fault driver may carry the state minimum liability insurance of $15,000 per person, yet the accident created $100,000 in damages. The at-fault driver's insurance company will quickly pay the $15,000 but there remains a net loss of $85,000. Uninsured Motorist Coverage will then kick in and cover the net loss.
Purchasing UM/UIM Coverage is therefore a prudent decision and is highly recommended. Hiring a personal injury attorney to represent you in a claim for UM/UIM is also a prudent and wise decision because once a claim is presented, the insurance company is NOT your friend. The insurance company steps into the shoes of the at-fault driver and will dispute liability (in other words, blame you or someone else for the collision), will dispute your injuries, treatment, and bills, will dispute your loss of earnings claim, and will dispute the nature and extent of your pain and suffering. This is all done in an effort to minimize paying out benefits on the claim. A personal injury attorney will fight the insurance company and all issues and will maximize the value of the claim.
If you have a UM/UIM claim, give us a call today for a free consultation at (949) 945-6233. We represent the injured person against the insurance company on a contingency fee basis, meaning you pay no fee unless we obtain a settlement, award, or verdict in your favor.