Although it is advisable to have uninsured motorist coverage on your policy, if you are in an accident with a driver that is uninsured, it is too late to add it to your policy. Hindsight is always 20-20. The following are a few of the important things to know about having an accident with an uninsured motorist who is at fault.
What is an uninsured motorist?
This is something that can be confusing to many people. The first thing to understand is that with few exceptions, insurance follows the car. What this means is that if someone were to lend their car to a friend and this friend were to get into an accident with you and they are to blame, the car is insured. If the driver has no insurance, it is unimportant. It is the owner of the vehicle who needs to have coverage. Confusion can often arise because the term motorist makes it sound like the driver was uninsured, but it is the car that must be insured by the owner.
An exception to rule that insurance follows the car
Anyone who lives in the same residence as the owner of the car must be added to the policy to be covered by the policy. Insurance companies do this to avoid high risk policies that the customer has not paid for. A good example is a parent of a child who just got their license. They must be added to the policy, and naturally, the insurance premiums will be higher. Otherwise, the policy would automatically cover a high risk driver, often on a continuous basis, without an increase in premiums. What this means to you is that even if the car has insurance, it may not cover the driver of the car if the driver is a person living with the owner of the car and this person is not named on the policy.
You need to determine if the vehicle is insured quickly
Most insurance companies have time limits for filing an uninsured motorist claim.
If you get into an accident and the other driver is at fault, you will need to determine in a short period of time, whether the car has coverage, so you can file a claim. If not, you will need to file a claim on your policy, and the time frame may be as quickly as 30 days.
The car and/or driver have no insurance
If you discover that the car is not insured or the drive is not covered and you do not have uninsured motorist on your policy, the next step is to contact an attorney. If the damages to your car combined with medical bills are high enough, it may be worth suing the driver or owner of the car. You may not be able to collect on a judgment, but this can be determined before you attempt to sue. An attorney can have an asset search done to discover if the uninsured person has enough wealth to pay for a judgment. It may also be possible to garnish a person’s paycheck if they have steady employment. All of this can be discussed with a personal injury attorney. The important point to remember is that if there is no insurance to compensate you for damages, there are other options, namely legal action.
Uninsured motorist coverage may not be sufficient
Even if you have coverage for an uninsured driver who caused damage to your car and your injuries, it may not be enough to cover all of your expenses. This is especially true if you have sustained severe injuries. Insurance companies place limitations on the amount of money they will pay on a claim. This is clearly stated in your policy, so you can look it up. If the amount of damages you are looking for exceeds your policy, you will need to look at suing the uninsured driver.
Your passengers could end up suing you
The limit on damages for uninsured motorist is not only for you, but the total of all claims against your policy. This includes any passengers in your car. However, the combined claims may be greater than you coverage. In a situation like this, one or more passengers may not be satisfied with their share of the insurance compensation; this may result in you being sued. The lesson here is that not only should you have uninsured motorist coverage, but it should be high enough to protect yourself and your personal assets against all but the most extraordinary situations.
Make sure you know whether the car at fault in the accident is a case of an uninsured motorist. In addition, don’t assume that because you have coverage that it will be enough. It will depend upon the limitations of your policy and the total amount of the claims against the policy. If you do not have insufficient coverage or none at all, you still have the option of suing, and this may be a viable path to getting the compensation you are entitled to. Above all, always consult with an attorney about questions specific to your circumstances and the laws of your particular state.