If you are hurt in an auto accident and the other driver has no insurance or not enough insurance, you can make a claim for all of your damages against your own insurance, provided you carry uninsured or underinsured motorist coverage (UIM).
Because an estimated 3.4 million California drivers are uninsured, UIM coverage is some of the most important insurance anyone can carry, and it is relatively cheap to carry a sizeable UIM policy (such as $100,000 or more).
If you carry liability insurance, the law requires your insurance carrier to provide UIM coverage as well (unless you opt out in writing).
What is Uninsured and Underinsured Motorist Coverage in California?
As you review your coverage policies, you may be curious about an uninsured and underinsured motorist coverage definition.
Including these additional policies in your coverage plan means you are covered if you are in an accident with a driver that doesn’t have liability insurance or who is underinsured.
For example, suppose a driver hits you and results in you suffering serious injuries.
While the at-fault driver is responsible for your losses, you may find that their policy coverage fails to adequately compensate you for your injuries.
Underinsured motorist coverage can be applied to your losses that the liable motorist’s policy fails to cover.
What Do Uninsured and Underinsured Motorist Policies Cover?
It’s important to carefully read your insurance coverage policy to understand policy limits, coverage, and other essential details.
However, most UM/UIM coverage policies cover the following:
- Uninsured motorist bodily injury (UMBI)—These policies pay for damages to you or any passengers in your car if you are involved in an accident with an uninsured driver who is also at fault for causing the accident. The limits for this policy are the same as the liability coverage limits in your plan.
- Underinsured motorist (UIM)—UIM policies cover costs for your bodily injury if you are involved in an accident with a driver who is also at fault and whose insurance policy does not adequately cover the extent of your losses.
- Uninsured motorist property damage (UMPD)—UMPD covers damage to your car from an accident where the other driver was at fault. Your collision coverage may cover these losses, and the limit for UMPD Is $3,500. These policies only pay if the uninsured driver is identified. For example, if it was a hit-and-run accident while your car was parked, the UMPD policy may not be utilized unless the driver that hit you is found.
California insurance companies must offer these coverage policies to all drivers.
Not buying it requires signing a waiver stating that you were informed of these policies and decided not to include them in your liability insurance plan.
How Does Uninsured/Underinsured Motorist Coverage Work?
In the following example, John engages in distracted driving and is texting. He runs through a stop sign and hits Sue in a t-bone accident at an intersection.
She is severely injured with a spinal cord injury, resulting in long-term rehabilitation and an inability to work. Sue has medical bills exceeding $200,000 and can no longer work.
However, John’s insurance covers only $50,000 in bodily injury for any accident. If Sue has a UM/UIM coverage policy, she can file a claim with her insurer for the portion of her damages John’s policy failed to pay.
If the UM/UIM coverage still leaves remaining losses unaccounted for, an uninsured and underinsured motorist insurance attorney may advise Sue to pursue a personal injury lawsuit against John personally to recover those compensatory losses.
Even if you do not have UM/UIM coverage in your insurance policy, you still have a right to recover compensation for your losses from the driver who caused you harm.
If you are involved in a similar situation, you may wonder what options are available to you. Speak to an attorney to learn how you can get the compensation you need and deserve.
You may be covered under the UIM policy of someone else residing in your household even if you do not carry auto insurance.
UIM cases differ from most personal injury cases in that there is no jury trial – if it cannot be settled, the claim is resolved through a binding arbitration before a neutral arbitrator. Recoverable damages include medical bills, wage loss, and pain and suffering.
Although your insurance carrier is required to handle your UIM claim in good faith (i.e., evaluate your claim fairly), insurance carriers often will not offer fair settlement value until we have fought them in litigation.
UIM cases typically require several different types of experts in areas such as accident reconstruction, medicine, vocational rehabilitation, and economics.
Contact Our San Francisco Uninsured/Underinsured Motorist Insurance Lawyer Today
If you were in a car accident and the other driver has no insurance or not enough insurance, our attorney can help you file an uninsured or underinsured motorist coverage (UIM) claim.
In Content Form
A friend recommended Chuck Geerhart. It was an excellent recommendation.
As a British journalist, recently based in San Francisco and without medical insurance, things seemed pretty messy after I found myself in an airport shuttle, driven by a lunatic, who struck a parked cab. I had to go to hospital, who diagnosed a head injury – as, later, did a neurologist – but the shuttle company’s insurance company continually balked at paying the bills.
A friend recommended Chuck Geerhart. It was an excellent recommendation. He was a great lawyer to have on my side, persistent in his battles with the insurance company, supportive of his client and a pleasure to work with, resolving the claim with the minimum of fuss.Susan
Chuck made sure I was fairly compensated for this life altering injury.
I was working as an air traffic controller at SFO when a notoriously faulty elevator slammed to a stop between floors, throwing me against the wall and rupturing discs in my neck. I had to have major surgery on my neck. The City and the elevator maintenance company denied liability, until Chuck Geerhart obtained copies of all prior repair records which showed the elevator was continually resetting due to a power supply issue.
During the discovery phase of the case, to protect my privacy rights, he filed a motion with court to block a subpoena issued by the defense that sought to obtain my complete confidential employment file and complete health history in violation of the law. We ultimately settled the case for $1,000,000 after mediation.
I feel that Chuck did a great job making sure I was fairly compensated for this life-altering injury.Denise
Chuck Geerhart dealt with my case in the most humane way I could imagine.
I was fortunate to have been referred to Chuck Geerhart when I was dealing with a very painful and tragic case of abuse by religious leadership, which was stretched over five years.Frank
Chuck Geerhart dealt with my case in the most humane way I could imagine. He was intelligent and strategic in his approach, always very communicative; an attentive ear, fearless and confident support for someone who was very confused and seeking answers where there were only walls. He always involved me in the process, sharing crucial information with me and allowing me the time and space to decide and move forward. He treated me like a partner, which helped me recover the power that was taken away from me.
At the same time he provided the professional expertise which I needed in order to win the case. The process of winning this case was as empowering as the actual outcome. It was a healing experience in itself. I am very happy with the support and guidance I got from Chuck as well as with the monetary result from such a serious injury. It has truly helped me move on in a good way.