One of the best things you can do for yourself to protect against unexpected injury from a car accident is to purchase more Underinsured Motorist Coverage (UIM). UIM coverage is sold with your automobile insurance policy. It protects you against people that don’t have enough insurance and that end up injuring you. In many states, the law only requires you to have $25,000 in insurance for bodily injury. In some states, it’s as low as $10,000 or $15,000. This does not go very far. Just with an ambulance ride, an ER visit, and MRI, and a few visits to the chiropractor, you can already be at $10,000 in medical bills.
So what can you do if someone only has $25,000 insurance, and your damages exceed that amount? You can make a claim for UIM coverage under your insurance policy. As the name describes, underinsured motorist coverage is triggered when the responsible person’s insurance company pays the insurance limit, for example, the $25,000. Once it’s paid, you’re entitled to receive money under your insurance policy. You cannot control how much other people buy in insurance, but you can control how much you buy in insurance.
UIM coverage is relatively cheap; for only a few extra cents a day, you can insure yourself for tens of thousands of extra dollars. Ask your insurance agent to tell you how much of your premium is for UIM coverage. I think you’ll be surprised at how cheap it is.
Never waive UIM coverage. Some insurance companies will give you the option to waive the coverage. Don’t fall into this trap. Insurance companies do not like to sell UIM coverage, so they will get people to waive it. If you get in an accident, and the responsible person doesn’t have enough insurance, you’ll regret waiving UIM coverage. Never, ever do this.
Keep in mind that your UIM limits will usually match you liability limits for bodily injury. Liability limits are the limits that your insurance company will pay to someone that you accidentally injure in an automobile accident. So you must increase your liability limits in order to benefit from higher UIM limits.
Additionally, UIM coverage also applies in automobile-pedestrian accidents. If you are a pedestrian or cyclist, and you get hit by a car, you can recover UIM coverage under your insurance policy. In other words, you do not have to be injured while driving a car to recover UIM coverage, as long as the person that injures you is operating a vehicle.
Lastly, make sure that if you are injured in an accident involving a motor vehicle, you consider all possible insurance policies that may apply. For example, if a child lives with his mother in one house, and his father in another house, there may be two auto policies that apply with UIM coverage. Or, if one household has two or more policies, you can recover UIM from each policy. There might also be situations where you can get UIM coverage from the policy of the owner of the vehicle that you are riding in at the time of the accident, even if you do not live with that person.
It’s important to speak with an attorney at Parker & McConkie to discuss all possible UIM coverages that might be available following an automobile accident.