When you bought your car you probably made sure you had the necessary insurance coverage to drive in your state. So you should be totally protected in the event of an accident, right?
Unfortunately, this may not be the case if another driver hits you and they are uninsured or underinsured. The chances of that happening might seem unlikely, but in reality according to the Insurance Research Council approximately one in eight drivers in the United States are uninsured. You can be confident you are protected if you include uninsured motorist insurance coverage on your auto insurance policy.
What Does Uninsured Motorist Insurance Cover?
If an underinsured or uninsured driver hits you and is found at fault for the accident then uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage would compensate you for any property damage that the accident caused as well as any injuries you or your passengers experienced as a result of the crash.
Similar to liability insurance, uninsured motorist insurance is divided into uninsured motorist bodily injury and uninsured motorist property damage.
Does My Policy Automatically Include Uninsured Motorist Insurance?
Some states require a form of uninsured motorist coverage, but many do not. Some states also separate uninsured motorist coverage and underinsured motorist insurance. The minimum limits for coverage also vary.
How Much Uninsured Motorist Coverage Do I Need?
If your state requires uninsured motorist insurance, it is wise to consider limits that are higher than the minimum requirement. It is recommended to have your uninsured motorist bodily injury limits match your liability limits. Since uninsured motorist property damage coverage protects your vehicle you should consider limits that are in line with the value of your car.
For example, if your liability limits are $100,000 per person and $300,000 per accident, you will want to match those in your uninsured and underinsured bodily injury limits. If your car is worth approximately $25,000 then your uninsured and underinsured motorist property damage coverage should closely match that amount.
What Should You Do if You Were Hit by an Uninsured Motorist?
Imagine you are stopped at a stop sign and all of the sudden you are rear-ended by another driver. You step out of your vehicle to assess the damage and to speak with the other driver and they tell you they have no insurance to pay for the damage. This certainly makes a bad situation worse, but there a number of steps you should follow to help you in getting your vehicle repaired.
- Call the police. It is wise to call the police in the event of any accident, but even more so when the accident is with an uninsured driver. The claims process will be much easier if there is an accident report from local authorities.
- Do not accept money from the individual who hit you. Since the other driver is breaking the law by driving without insurance they may attempt to offer you money to avoid the involvement of the police or insurance companies. Do not accept it as you do not know the extent of your damages or injuries.
- Exchange information. While the police will collect your information as well as the other driver’s it is important to collect this information yourself as it could take some time to access the police report. Attempt to get as much information as you can from the other driver including their name, address, phone number, make and model of the vehicle, license plate number, etc.
- Take pictures. The best way to document what occurred at the scene of the accident is to take pictures. Capture images of as much as possible such as the damage to your car, the other driver’s car and license plate, surrounding signs and more. Photo documentation will help to expedite the claims process.
- Contact your insurance company. If you already have uninsured motorist insurance then your insurance company should be able assist you a great deal in the process. If you do not they should be able to advise you on next steps.
How Uninsured Motorist Protection Can Help
Having uninsured motorist protection makes sense – so much sense that many states require it. If you live in a state where this coverage is optional, you may still want to consider purchasing it for added protection. Uninsured motorist bodily injury coverage could help cover your medical expenses and lost wages if you have to stay home from work, while the property damage portion of this coverage would take care of fixing up your car.
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