In a perfect world, being the victim of a car accident would not cost you a thing.
Unfortunately, sometimes a car accident is caused by a driver with little or no car insurance. That might leave you with enormous uncovered expenses.
That’s where uninsured/underinsured motorist (UM) coverage comes in. When you’re involved in an accident with a driver who has no insurance or insufficient insurance coverage, your insurance policy will kick in to handle any overages or unpaid bills you might have.
UM coverage is an optional part of your car insurance policy.
From Davey Jones of the Alexandria-based Jones Law Firm, here’s what you need to know about UM coverage.
Who needs uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage?
Simply put, everyone needs uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage.
Imagine this worst-case scenario: you are driving a car with your spouse and children. You get rear-ended by a driver with a minimum insurance policy. The per accident amount of the other driver’s policy maxes out at $30,000. That is the most your family can recover from the other insurance company. If your medical bills are greater than $30,000, you are stuck with all of those bills.
That is why you need uninsured/underinsured coverage. Your UM policy will cover the excess amount.
There are some individuals who should especially consider uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage. These individuals include:
- Drivers with expensive cars or cars that exceed $25,000 in value. That’s because the state minimum for property damage coverage is $25,000, which means all additional fees related to getting your car fixed or replaced would be an expense you would need to shoulder.
- Individuals who have multiple people in their car regularly, such as families or carpool drivers.
- People who drive their car in a state with a high number of uninsured or underinsured drivers. Louisiana ranks 20th out of the 50 states for the most uninsured drivers. However, with 13% of drivers lacking insurance, you have about a 1 in 8 chance of being involved in an accident with an uninsured driver. This statistic does not account for underinsured drivers. The national average for being uninsured is also 13%.
Louisiana does not require drivers to carry uninsured/underinsurance coverage for bodily injury or property damage, but you should still discuss this option with your insurance agent.
What should I do after I’m in an accident with an uninsured/underinsured driver?
If you’re involved in a car accident with a driver who has no insurance at all, you’ll file the entire claim through your insurance company. That is why you pay for insurance.
In cases where the other driver is at-fault but underinsured, you’ll open a claim with their insurance company. You should also notify your car insurance provider of the accident so that they can begin investigating the claim in case the at-fault party’s insurance is not enough.
The at-fault driver’s insurance will pay out the claim up to the maximum policy limit. Then, your insurance will pay for the rest based on your policy limits for uninsured/underinsured coverage.
Regardless of whether or not the police report states that the other driver is at-fault, your insurance company will investigate the claim to make sure it is valid. That’s because there are so many fraud schemes out there that seek compensation from insurance companies.
You can also sue your own insurance company for coverage under your uninsured motorist provision. As an insurance policyholder, you pay for the peace of mind and security that your insurance company will be there in case anything goes wrong. It is the insurance company’s responsibility to pay out when a valid claim arises
What is UMEO, uninsured motorist economic only, coverage?
Be wary of the limitation for economic only coverage. If you elect UMEO, your policy will only cover actual out of pocket expenses (economic losses), such as medical bills and lost income.
This type of rider specifically excludes personal injury compensation. It is a cheaper monthly premium than full uninsured motorist coverage, but the coverage after an accident is significantly less.
Contact the Jones Law Firm for Help After Your Car Accident in Louisiana
Our car accident attorneys at the Jones Law Firm want to help you — whether your accident involved insured motorists or not. Contact us today to schedule your first consultation.