Uninsured motorist (UM) coverage protects you in the event of an accident with someone who does not carry liability coverage. But do you need uninsured motorist coverage? Understandably, most people want to save as much money as possible when purchasing insurance and ask, Should I get uninsured motorist coverage? While you aren’t necessarily required to buy uninsured motorist coverage in Texas, it can be a worthwhile investment.
This post will explain more about whether you need uninsured motorist coverage and how it works. Hiring a Texas car accident lawyer is a smart idea if you suffered injuries in an accident with an uninsured driver. Please get in touch with the legal team at Armstrong Lee & Baker LLP to learn how we can help.
What Is Uninsured Motorist Coverage?
Uninsured motorist coverage is a part of your auto insurance policy that protects you if you are involved in an accident with a driver who does not have insurance. Uninsured motorist coverage is typically bundled with underinsured motorist (UIM) coverage. UIM coverage will apply in an accident when another driver’s bodily injury limits are too low to cover the entire amount of your damages.
Why Is Uninsured Motorist Coverage Important?
Despite laws requiring auto insurance, some motorists operate their vehicles without liability coverage. In 2019, 8.3% of Texas drivers operated a motor vehicle without liability insurance. That might not seem like a lot, but if you are the unlucky one who gets hit by one of these drivers, you could be out a lot of money.
Uninsured motorist coverage would apply in this situation and also provide compensation for other damages, such as intangible losses. Intangible losses are fault-based damages such as physical pain and suffering, emotional trauma, loss of consortium, and more. Otherwise, you could face the financial burden of medical expenses and lost wages if the at-fault driver doesn’t have the means to pay for your injuries and damages.
Another scenario where UM coverage might apply is a hit-and-run. If the police do an investigation and cannot identify the driver, your UM insurance policy will still apply. Your insurance company might continue to investigate and find who this driver is so they can file a claim demanding reimbursement for the money they paid you.
How Does a UM Claim Work?
It’s essential to understand the difference in how UM claims work. These differ significantly from presenting a personal injury claim to the at-fault driver’s insurance. The main thing to remember is you are presenting a claim to your own insurance company. However, it is not first-party coverage. That means your insurance company will step into the shoes of the at-fault driver. The cautions that apply when presenting a third-party claim are relevant here.
You should speak to a lawyer before you give your insurance company a recorded statement. Be cautious about trying to negotiate a settlement on your own behalf. And have an attorney review any potential offer and release of all claims. It’s easy to let your guard down when speaking with your own insurance company because you pay premiums for this coverage. That could inadvertently jeopardize your claim.
Insurance companies don’t automatically pay your policy limits for uninsured motorist claims. You must still prove liability against the other uninsured driver. That is why we strongly suggest hiring a lawyer to help build a strong case.
What Does UIM Cover?
Underinsured motorist coverage doesn’t kick in until all other sources of compensation have been exhausted. Any liable party must pay out their insurance limits, and you still have outstanding damages. For example, the other driver has $30,000 in liability coverage that applies. However, you have $100,000 in damages. Their insurance company accepts liability and pays you the $30,000. If there are no other responsible parties, you can look to your UIM coverage to help reduce the amount you lost.
Remember that UIM works similarly to UM in that your insurance company treats this as a third-party claim. You must prove that the other driver was liable and caused you $100,000 in damages.
Deciding Whether You Need Uninsured Motorist Coverage in Texas
Deciding whether you need uninsured motorist coverage is a personal choice, but we highly recommend you go with it. All it takes is one accident to suffer significant financial harm. Here are some things to consider when deciding whether to purchase uninsured motorist coverage in Texas.
One of the most important considerations when choosing uninsured motorist coverage is the financial aspect. While it adds to your premium, the cost is generally reasonable, especially when weighed against the potential financial risks of an accident with an uninsured driver. If need be, shop around and compare pricing with different insurance companies.
Consider Real-World Scenarios
To illustrate the importance of uninsured motorist coverage, consider real-world scenarios. For example, an uninsured driver hits you, and you sustain severe injuries that require hospitalization. Those medical bills can escalate quickly. Without uninsured motorist coverage, these costs could be your responsibility. Do you have access to $50,000 or more to cover these bills?
Balance Risk and Protection
Deciding on uninsured motorist coverage is a matter of balancing risk and protection. While we all hope never to be in an accident, the reality is that it might happen. And, sometimes, that accident is with an uninsured driver. This coverage provides a safety net in those situations.
Uninsured motorist coverage can compensate you for fault-based damages you won’t get through medical payments, collision coverage, or any disability. In some cases, compensation for pain and suffering represents the largest portion of your settlement.
Do You Need Uninsured Motorist Coverage: Final Thoughts
Uninsured motorist coverage is a crucial aspect of your auto insurance policy that offers protection against the unpredictable. While it may seem like an additional and unnecessary expense, the value of a UM policy becomes evident in the face of accidents with uninsured or underinsured drivers.
Contact Armstrong Lee & Baker LLP
If you sustained injuries in an accident caused by an uninsured driver, please contact Armstrong Lee & Baker LLP. We have years of experience assisting Texas accident victims in seeking justice for their injuries. We understand the nuances and challenges that come with filing a UM claim. We’re committed to helping every client fight for the compensation they deserve after an accident. Please get in touch with our office to schedule an initial consultation to learn more about how we can assist.