When you are purchasing an Auto Insurance policy in California, the only coverage you are required to have according to state law is the minimum liability of $15,000 for the death of or injury to one individual, $30,000 for the death of or injury to more than one individual, and $5,000 for any property damages. However, even though other coverages are not required, there are some that should be considered as important as the minimum liability coverage. One of those is Uninsured/Underinsured Motorist. What exactly is Uninsured/Underinsured Coverage? Uninsured/Underinsured Motorist coverage is commonly shortened to “UM/UIM” on most California auto insurance policies. The primary reason that this coverage is so important is due to the fact that this state’s number of motorists who have no insurance or do not have enough coverage far exceeds the national average. And we have the Insurance Research Council’s statistics to prove it. According to the IRC uninsured and underinsured motorists are concerned, the national average is 1 out of every 10 drivers. In the state of California, it is 1 out of every 7 or 14.3% does not have enough auto insurance coverage, if they have any at all. Even more disconcerting is the fact that 1 out of every 6 accidents in California (nearly 17%) are caused by drivers that have no auto insurance at all. Unfortunately, when a driver (and their passengers) is involved in a traffic accident with a person that has little or no insurance, the chances of recovering any compensation from the at-fault driver is slim to none. In most instances, these individuals lack the assets and financial means to satisfy any judgment against them, much less pay for an insurance policy to begin with. Definition of Uninsured and Underinsured As the description or name implies, uninsured motorists are individuals who do not have any insurance coverage. An underinsured motorist is an individual who has only the minimum coverage necessary to pay for damages and/or injuries. So they do not have enough insurance to cover any of the expenses and issues covered in the next section. What does this Coverage Protect Against? Uninsured/Underinsured Motorist coverage protects you, and any passengers that may be riding with you, in the event of an auto accident caused by a driver who does not have liability insurance. It also protects you and your passengers from covering any damages that result during the accident. In most cases, if you get involved in an accident and incur injuries as a result of the crash, the at-fault driver’s insurance normally covers any damages that result. If not, then you have to rely on your own insurance company to foot the bill. Your insurance carrier will cover your personal damages if you have UM/UIM coverage. These damages include: • emergency medical care • lost wages should you be forced to miss time at work • medical expenses • pain and suffering However, with Uninsured Motorist coverage, you are not protected against any property damages that may occur. However, some states offer a specific coverage that is referred to as UMPD or Uninsured Motorist Property Damage. This will cover any damages that result from getting into an accident with a motorist that is not insured or does not have enough insurance to pay for those damages. You should check with your insurance agent about this if you have any questions regarding this issue. How can this Coverage Help You after being in an Accident? Despite the laws that apply to California drivers and the insurance requirements that are in force, there are still too many individuals on the road today that are breaking the law by not having insurance when they are behind the wheel of a vehicle. If you do not have (UM or UIM) coverage you may have to pay for any damages and injuries on your own. However, once you meet your deductible requirements, your healthcare insurance may cover any medical expenses that result. According to the AAA (American Automobile Association), an ongoing and very disturbing trend has been uncovered through research. Research has recently revealed that over 1,500 individuals are killed by hit-and-run drivers on an annual basis and although many of others live, they are seriously injured and impaired for life. Uninsured motorist coverage also pays for this should you be struck down as a pedestrian.
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