In Texas, underinsured motorist coverage is crucial for responsible drivers. Texas has a high rate of uninsured and underinsured motorists, making this coverage a critical safeguard.
If you’re involved in an accident with an at-fault driver who lacks adequate insurance, underinsured motorist coverage steps in to bridge the financial gap.
Without it, you could be left with substantial out-of-pocket expenses for medical bills, property damage, and other losses.
It is important to consult with an attorney if you are involved in an auto accident, especially collisions involving underinsured or uninsured drivers.
Insurance companies often employ tactics to minimize payouts, leaving victims with inadequate compensation.
An experienced attorney understands the nuances of Texas insurance laws and can navigate the claims process effectively. Attorneys can help identify all available sources of coverage, including stacking policies, to maximize your recovery.
What Is Underinsured Motorist Coverage?
Underinsured (UIM) coverage is insurance coverage on your own car insurance policy that helps protect you if you’re involved in an accident with a driver with insufficient insurance to cover the full extent of your damages.
This coverage is designed to step in and provide additional compensation when the at-fault driver’s insurance is inadequate.
UIM coverage in Texas typically covers medical expenses, lost wages, pain and suffering, and other damages incurred due to the accident.
Texas law requires insurance companies to offer UIM coverage to policyholders, but drivers can decline this coverage in writing. It is generally advisable for Texas drivers to include this coverage in their policies due to the state’s significant number of uninsured and underinsured motorists.
How to File an Underinsured Motorist Personal Injury Claim
Filing a UIM claim in Texas is a process that involves several steps to ensure you receive adequate compensation when the at-fault driver’s insurance is insufficient to cover your damages.
Before filing a claim, it is important that you take steps to protect your rights and remedies. First, contact the police and have them document the incident. A police report will serve as crucial evidence in your UIM claim.
It’s important to seek immediate medical attention for any injuries sustained in the accident, even if they initially seem minor. Document your injuries and follow your doctor’s recommendations for treatment.
You should contact an attorney to deal with your insurance company. It is essential to contact your insurance company as soon as possible to report the accident and inform them of your intention to make a UIM claim.
Your insurance company should provide the forms you need to complete and identify the documentation you need to provide.
Collect all relevant information about the accident, including photographs of the scene, contact information for witnesses, and any communication with the at-fault driver or their insurance company.
It is essential that you keep detailed records of all expenses related to the accident, including medical bills, rehabilitation costs, lost wages, and property damage. This documentation will be crucial in establishing the extent of your damages.
Steps to Filing an Underinsured Motorist Claim in Texas
The forms you need to fill out for a UIM claim in Texas may vary depending on your insurance company and policy. However, there are some common forms that most drivers encounter when filing a UIM claim.
An attorney can help you prepare these forms and gather the appropriate documentation to help you maximize your compensation.
Step 1: File the Notice of Claim
This is typically the initial form you must fill out to inform your insurance company that you intend to make a UIM claim. Your insurer will provide you with this form.
Step 2: Provide Proof of Loss Statement
This form requires a detailed account of the accident, including the date, time, location, parties involved, and a description of the damages and injuries sustained.
Step 3: Medical Authorization Form
Insurance companies often request that you sign a medical authorization form, allowing them to access your medical records related to the accident. However, it’s important to be cautious about what medical information you share with the insurance company. Talk to your attorney before signing this form.
Step 4: Gather Medical Records and Bills
You must gather all medical records and bills related to the injuries you suffered in the accident as part of your UIM claim documentation.
Step 5: Complete the Lost Wage Verification Form
You may need to complete a lost wage verification form if you claim lost wages due to the accident. This form typically requires you to provide information about your employment, income, and the time you missed from work due to the accident.
Step 6: Provide Property Damage Documentation
If your vehicle or other property was damaged in the accident, you’ll need to provide documentation of the damages, such as repair estimates or invoices.
Step 7: Police Report
Include a copy of the police report from the accident, as it is essential for documenting the details of the incident.
Step 8: Provide Witness Statements
If there were any witnesses to the accident, gather their statements and contact information to support your claim.
It’s important to note that the specific forms and documentation requirements can vary by insurance company and policy. Therefore, working with an attorney who can contact your insurance company directly to obtain the necessary forms and get guidance on the documentation they require for your UIM claim is crucial.
How Long Does It Take to File an Underinsured Claim
Texas UIM claim processing time can vary depending on several factors, including the complexity of the case and the cooperation of all parties involved. Generally, you should take immediate action.
This includes seeking medical attention for any injuries, notifying the police, and contacting your insurance company as soon as possible.
Contact your insurance company within a day or two of the accident to report it and begin the claims process. If possible, speak to an attorney before contacting your insurance company so that they can advise you on what to say. It’s generally best to give only basic information about the accident.
Your insurance company will investigate the accident, which may take several weeks. This involves reviewing the details of the accident, your injuries, and property damage. The negotiation process with your insurance company and potentially the at-fault driver’s insurance company can take several weeks to months.
The length of negotiations depends on the complexity of your case and the willingness of the insurance companies to reach a settlement. If negotiations do not result in a settlement, mediation or arbitration may be required to resolve disputes, adding more time to the process.
If all else fails, filing a lawsuit against the at-fault driver may be necessary. Litigation can significantly extend the timeline, potentially taking months to several years to reach a resolution.
It’s important to note that these timelines are approximate, and the actual duration of the UIM claim process can vary widely depending on the specific circumstances of your case.
Are You Interested in Learning More About Bringing a UIM Claim?
If you were recently involved in a car accident with an underinsured motorist, it is imperative that you speak with an experienced Houston personal injury lawyer to understand your rights.
We believe that there is no substitute for hard work, meaning we are committed to ensuring your case ends in the best possible result, no matter the amount of work involved.
To learn more and to schedule a free consultation, call Armstrong Lee & Baker, LLP today. You can also connect with our injury lawyers by completing our secure online contact form.