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Regain Control – Uninsured/Underinsured Motorist Coverage

The Insurance Research Council estimates that approximately one out of every eight drivers  in the United States is uninsured. The odds aren’t in your favor when you think about how many people you pass on the highway during your morning commute. However, with the appropriate coverage, there are ways to prevent your run in with an uninsured/underinsured driver from being a costly experience.

How does it work?

Uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage will help protect you if you are in an accident in which the other driver is at fault. If they are uninsured or don’t have enough auto insurance, this coverage will help you pay the bills for the damage they’ve caused.

If the person at fault in underinsured, their insurance company will usually pay for the damages they’ve caused up to the person’s liability limits, and then your provider will cover you for the remaining expenses up to the liability limits of your policy.

If you do file an uninsured/underinsured motorist claim, your insurance company will pursue the third party that caused the insurance loss to the person that is insured. Ideally, this would be the end of it; but recovering may not be possible, as many people who don’t have the proper insurance coverage also don’t have collectible assets. This is why it’s important to have uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage.

Additionally, when you file an uninsured/underinsured motorist claim, you become a third party to your insurance company. This means that you will get be reimbursed as if you were filing in opposition to your provider.

What’s covered?

Uninsured motorist coverage will most likely cover you and your passengers for medical expenses, pain and suffering and lost wages that occur as the result of the auto accident. This coverage also extends to victims of hit-and-runs and can also help cover personal property that was damaged in the accident (such as your vehicle, house or fence).

What are my options?

Much like your personal auto coverage, there are usually two types of uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage that are offered: underinsured motorist bodily injury coverage and underinsured motorist property damage coverage. Bodily injury coverage tends to be more common and some states, including Minnesota, require it as part of the overall auto policy. Property damage coverage is not offered everywhere, but when it is, it’s a good idea to get.

When deciding on your bodily injury coverage, you will need to pick what limits you would like: split limits or combined single limits. For split limits, your coverage will differ based on how many people are injured. A combined single limit is a single amount that your insurance company will pay for all bodily injury as a result of the accident.

It’s wise to have uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage limits that are higher than your at-fault driver’s bodily injury liability coverage limits. Otherwise, you many not receive the benefits you’re seeking. When deciding on the limit that is best for you, look at how much your car is worth, what kind of medical insurance you have, and if you have access to short and long term disability at work.

In Minnesota, the minimum limits are 25,000 dollars per person and 50,000 dollars per accident. Just like with your own liability limits, increasing your uninsured/underinsured motorist limits beyond the minimums is a good way to make sure that you are protected.

Regain control.

You never know when you could be involved with an uninsured/underinsured driver. It’s unfortunate, but many people aren’t adequately insured and this can create circumstances that are out of your control. Uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage can help you regain some of that control.

The Five Steps to Take After an Accident

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Step 1:  Take stock of your condition and the condition of your passengers.  If it’s an emergency, step one is obviously “Call 911”. 

Step 2:  If possible, move your vehicle to the shoulder or place of relative safety.  This is especially important in the winter months, where many accidents occur due to icy conditions.  If your car slipped and lost control, it stands to reason that you’re in a lot of danger from other cars suffering a similar fate if you don’t get out of the way.

Step 3:  If there is another driver involved, try to collect as much information from him/her as possible.  A full name, phone number, insurance company and policy number is ideal, but even getting the name of the other driver and his/her insurance carrier can be the difference between getting your claim taken care of and suffering what basically amounts to a hit and run if you can’t find the other driver in the future.  It can also be important in this step to not admit any fault, regardless of how the accident came about.

Step 4:  If you’re not at fault, it’s especially crucial that you wait for the police and file a report.  When drivers are shaken up they might be gracious enough to admit to you on the spot that it was “totally their fault!” but recollections after the fact can be extremely defensive and unhelpful.  If you were indeed not at fault like you claim, a police report is an official record of events that tells your insurance company how to file it.  The industry these days is getting much better about not charging insureds for “no fault” accidents.

Step 5:  Call your agent!  It is your agent’s job to be the middle man between you and your giant, bureaucratic insurance company.  Call your agent and fill him/her in on what happened, even if both drivers walked away deciding that there wasn’t any need to get the companies involved.  The more information we have, the more we can represent you if the other driver’s company comes calling.  This also allows the agent to talk you through whether or not it’s worth filing a claim or not.  If you have a $1000 deductible and it’s going to cost $950 to fix your fender, you shouldn’t be filing a claim.  You’d be surprised how many of these come in!