Here are some common questions about accidents involving an uninsured or underinsured driver.
How Many Drivers In Washington State Have No Automobile Insurance?
Unfortunately, the stresses and pains of being injured in a crash increase if and when you find out that the other driver does not carry a sufficient level of liability insurance coverage, if they even have liability insurance coverage at all. Although car insurance is legally required in nearly every single state in the country – New Hampshire being the exception – it is estimated that almost 14 percent of drivers in the U.S. do not have insurance. That number is even higher here in Washington state, at an estimated 16 percent. There is no concrete data on the number of people who carry low-limit policies – which sometimes restricts liability coverage to limits of just $25,000 – but we can presume that there are plenty of those policies out there as well.
What Is UM/UIM Coverage And How Does It Work?
All drivers in Washington state are legally required to carry at least $25,000 in liability insurance coverage. State law does requires insurance companies to offer additional coverage to drivers that may protect them in the event that they are involved in a crash with a person who is uninsured or underinsured, meaning that the coverage amounts are minimal and unlikely to fully compensate a victim. Although drivers are not required to carry uninsured or underinsured motorist (UM/UIM) coverage, this type of insurance can make all the difference in an accident victim’s ability to successfully recover the compensation they are legally entitled to.
If you are injured in a crash with an uninsured driver and you carry UM/UIM coverage as part of your auto insurance policy, then a claim may be filed against your own insurance company to cover the difference between the at-fault driver’s liability coverage limits and the amount of damages you have suffered as a result of that driver’s negligence. UM/UIM coverage will often apply to a person who is injured in a crash as a driver, passenger, pedestrian, or even a bicyclist when the at-fault driver’s insurance policy will not cover the total amount of damages.
In some cases, your UM/UIM coverage may cover you if you are injured in a crash with a hit-and-run driver, though some policies require the driver to be identified. Passengers inside of your vehicle who were injured by an uninsured or underinsured driver may also be covered by certain policies. The exact language of the policy will determine whether or not these special situations may be covered.
One example of a situation where UM/UIM coverage would come into play might involve a driver who is hospitalized with multiple broken bones after being involved in a collision caused by a driver whose liability insurance policy limit is $25,000. The hospital visit(s), treatment, follow-up care, and any necessary surgeries for this accident victim will likely exceed that $25,000 policy limit. If the injured party has UM/UIM coverage, his or her own insurer may be responsible for covering the difference.
What Are The Next Steps for Accident Victims Hit By Uninsured Drivers?
Properly filing a UM/UIM claim with your own insurance company can be a hassle, especially with the deceitful tactics often used by insurance companies and insurance adjusters. Uninsured / underinsured insurance coverage are more complex pieces of insurance law and personal injury law, and determining whether UM/UIM insurance coverage may provide you with compensation after a crash can be difficult without the assistance of an attorney. It is a good idea to consult with an attorney if you believe that you may need to use your own UM/UIM coverage after an accident.