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Uninsured Motorist Insurance -- for when you least expect a crash

Did you know you could prevent the financial consequences of a crash with a driver who has no auto insurance, or not enough insurance, to cover your damages? Orange County drivers must take out a mandatory minimum level of auto insurance, and they may add additional coverage for uninsured and underinsured liability. Although California law requires all motorists to carry auto insurance, many drivers have only the minimum amount of insurance while others choose to drive without any liability protection.

If you are in an accident that resulted from the negligence of another party, his or her insurance might cover your damages even if that person has no money. Similarly, if you are at fault, your insurance may cover the costs of any injured victims.

What are the benefits of uninsured and underinsured motorist insurance coverage?

One of the main reasons to carry insurance is to have the ability to recover financial losses such as medical expenses, lost income and emotional damages like pain and suffering. Uninsured motorist insurance can come into play in one of the following scenarios:

  • Uninsured: If an uninsured motorist caused an accident that left you or your passengers with injuries, your UMI might kick in to cover damages.
  • Underinsured: If the at-fault driver has insufficient insurance to cover your losses, your UMI may cover the shortfall.
  • Hit-and-run: If you are unable to identify a driver after a hit-and-run accident, it does not mean you have to carry the costs. You can file a claim under your UMI liability coverage.

Can you sue the other driver?

If another driver caused your injuries and he or she does not have insurance coverage, you could file a personal injury lawsuit in a civil court. However, drivers without insurance may also be without the means to pay any monetary judgments the court may order. The remedy might be to file a UMI claim with your insurance company, keeping in mind that there will likely be time limits. For that reason, it might be best to file insurance claims as soon as possible after an accident.

The claims process

The process that you will need to follow could be complicated. Although every claim is unique, there will be deadlines to meet and understanding the level of coverage for which you qualify could be challenging. Furthermore, the insurance providers may push you to sign a settlement agreement before you are ready. However, you may seek legal counsel to guide and support you throughout the claims process to protect your rights and work toward receiving the maximum available benefits to which you are entitled.

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