Two drivers get into an accident and one is at fault. The problem is that the one who is at fault may not have insurance. If that is the case than that operator now becomes an uninsured motorist. What if that operator is YOU? So how can you get compensated for your loss? That is where Uninsured Motorist/Underinsured Coverage (a/k/a UM/UIM) from your automobile policy becomes very important. Uninsured Motorist can provide you with coverage for any bodily injuries you suffer in this accident.
Now let’s say that the other driver has some insurance; however, they only carry minimum liability limits. In this case, your UM/UIM coverage can provide the difference between your actual injury expenses and the other driver’s coverage up to the limits provided under YOUR own policy. Of course, this is only if you are carrying higher UM/UIM limits that the other driver. Keep in mind that the minimum UM/IUM liability limits vary from state to state and in NYS those limits are only $25,000 per person and $50,000 per occurrence no matter how many people are injured in an accident.
What is most important to understand about UM/IUM coverages is that it only applies when you are involved in an accident and, the person causing the accident, doesn’t have any insurance or doesn’t have enough insurance to cover your bodily injuries. The coverage also applies when you are the victim of a hit and run accident, a pedestrian knock down or a bicycle knock down accident. In such cases, you can file an “uninsured motorist” claim with your own auto insurance carrier, under your own coverage.
Do you know what your limits are? Have you reviewed these limits with your insurance agent?
You may believe that such occurrences are not common; however, insurance information sources indicate that up to one (1) out of every seven (7) drivers is uninsured and of those who are insured, many carry only minimum limits. In some states these limits might be as low as $10,000 for each person injured, and $20,000 regardless of how many are injured in one accident. This is not all that surprising given our current economic climate where many people are trying to reduce costs whenever and wherever possible. Even radio and television advertisements seem to be more interested in the cost of insurance rather than in the actual product(s) or coverages being provided. As the economy struggles toward recovery, we urge you not to sacrifice necessary and important coverage for reduced premiums. It could mean your hard earn assets could be wiped out if your limits are not enough to cover your injuries and the necessary expenses related to your recovery.
If you have any doubts about what coverages you should have in place, do not hesitate to contact your insurance agent today.
Are you aware that your Umbrella Policy may or may not offer some additional UM/IUM protection for you and your family? This is what your insurance agent is there for—-to educate and consult with you, as the consumer, so that you can make good choices on what assets and property you want to protect.
By Karen Skoler, CPCU