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Uninsured Motorists: Car Accidents with the Uninsured & Underinsured

Uninsured Motorists & Underinsured Motorists
Uninsured Motorist Threat

If you’re in a car accident due to someone else’s negligence, chances are 1 in 7 the at fault driver is an uninsured motorist. Nationally, up to 14 % of all cars on the road are not insured. That statistic comes from the Insurance Research Council. It’s important that you get insurance though, as you will need it if you ever get into a car accident.

As many as 28% fail to insure their cars in Mississippi, 11% in New Hampshire, with no mandatory car insurance law, and 4% in Massachusetts, where auto insurance is required.

In over six states there’s more than a 1 in 5 chance of having an uninsured car strike yours. By the basic nature of our highly mobile society, an unacceptably high risk exists of having an accident with a car without insurance

Uninsured Motorist Coverage

Accident injuries caused by uninsured drivers can be addressed in uninsured coverage. You are hit by a car that has no insurance – your uninsured provision covers your own bodily injuries. Uninsured coverage also applies if an uninsured vehicle strikes and injures you as a pedestrian. Your own uninsured coverage also applies if you are the victim of a hit and run accident.

People often shudder at making a claim against their own insurance company. Why should my insurance company pay? Won’t my rates go up?

Your rates only increase if you’ve committed a moving violation or otherwise been at fault. Remember, here, you’re seeking recovery for your injuries caused by another driver’s negligence.

Underinsured Coverage

Underinsured coverage, by contrast, covers your injuries if the person causing your motor vehicle accident has inadequate coverage. For example, the extent of your injuries reach a fair value of $60,000, but the at-fault driver has coverage limited to only $20,000. The $40,000 difference would come from your own underinsured provision if you have adequate coverage.

The way insurance companies figure it, the first $20,000 of your own coverage in the above example is not available to you, because you collected that amount from the other uninsured driver. That $20,000 is offset, and in order to collect the remaining $40,000, you need to have at least $60,000 coverage, 60 minus 20, leaving $40,000 available to you.

But I Have ‘Full Coverage’

People often tell me, too late, after an accident, that they have ‘full coverage’. Full coverage is a term of art used by insurance agents to package all of the various insurance provisions together into a product. It’s true that purchasing auto insurance can be confusing and most of us want to get it over with and save as much as possible.

But, the truth is that auto insurance is made up of numerous individual provisions, only two of which are the focus of this article. Ask questions. Often, additional coverage is not unrealistically expensive. For example, $20,000 is the minimum compulsory limit on uninsured coverage in Massachusetts. But, purchasing a $50,000 or $100,000 limit may not be prohibitively more expensive. It doesn’t cost anything to ask for a quote, and it may make the difference between financial solvency and a struggle after a serious motor vehicle accident caused by an uninsured motorist.

‘Full coverage’ is like those lunch specials at a Chinese restaurant. Would you order a ‘Number 4′ without knowing what’s included? The same is true of auto insurance. You’re paying for the coverage and it’s smart to ask what ‘full coverage’ includes and whether you might be better off selecting individual coverage limits.

This article is for informational purposes only and does not constitute legal advice. The insurance industry places many conditions and hoops to jump through in these claims. Legal counsel is highly recommended.

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Attorney Myers is a member of the American Trial Lawyers Association, Massachusetts Academy of Trial Lawyers, and New Hampshire Trial Lawyers Association. The Law Offices of Andrew D. Myers offer a broad range of legal services in personal injury cases in Massachusetts (MA) and New Hampshire (NH) areas.

The information on this web site is offered for informational purposes only. It is not offered as, and does not constitute, legal advice. Laws vary widely from state to state. You should rely only on the advice given to you during a personal consultation by a local attorney who is thoroughly familiar with state laws and the area of practice in which your concern lies. This web site must be labeled advertisement in some jurisdictions.