What Is Uninsured Motorist Coverage?

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Feb 272013
 
Simply put, uninsured motorist coverage protects you financially for bodily injury, including death, from an accident caused by a driver who does not have car insurance. It includes you and any family members who may be in the vehicle at the time of the accident. The intent of uninsured motorist coverage is to pay for medical costs and loss of work but not the physical damage to your car, as it would be covered under the collision part of your insurance policy.

There are many scenarios when you may be in a car accident where you are not at fault, yet you would not be protected if you don’t have uninsured motorist insurance coverage. An uninsured motorist might be:
  • Someone who has car insurance but coverage for this accident is denied,
  • Someone who does not have a driver’s license.
  • Someone whose driver’s license has been revoked.
  • Someone driving a stolen car.
  • Someone who may have let their car insurance lapse because they couldn’t afford the premium.
  • Someone whose auto insurance has just been cancelled.
  • The driver who speeds away from a hit and run accident.

Damages recoverable with uninsured motorist coverage include those amounts you would be legally entitled to collect if the at fault party could be identified and had insurance, up to the limit on your policy. Many states, including Rhode Island, have laws that address whether uninsured motorist coverage may be required and how it works.

Types of Damages that Are Covered

Medical Bills:

Most health insurance plans include substantial deductibles and co payments. Even if you have what seems to be adequate health insurance, the direct costs of injuriesfrom an accident with an uninsured motorist can result in severe financial hardship. This exposure is multiplied when more than one member of a family covered under an auto insurance policy is involved in the accident. Even if you live in a state requiring No Fault (or Personal Injury Protection) coverage, the limits there may not be enough to pay all the bills from a serious accident.

Other Legal Damages:

Depending on the laws of your state, damages may be recoverable from an at fault party for pain and suffering, loss of income, or loss of care and services. If the at fault party is not found or does not have insurance coverage available, your uninsured motorist coverage will pay damages as a court would award you, up to your policy limit.

How Much Coverage You May Need

Consider buying uninsured motorist limits at least equal to your auto liability limits. While carrying less may be allowed, uninsured motorist rates are usually far lower than the rates for liability coverage. If you want to purchase lower uninsured motorist limits or even to avoid purchasing uninsured motorist coverage altogether, you may be asked to sign a statement to the effect that the coverage was offered and declined.

Considering the potential damage from an accident with an uninsured motorist, if you don’t already have high limits on your medical coverage, you should look into buying as much protection as you can afford and that the insurance company allows.

As your independent insurance agent, we can help you make sure you have the right insurance coverage in place in case you’re unlucky enough to meet an uninsured motorist. Call us today at 401-847-5200.