Woodland Hills personal injury lawyer Barry P. Goldberg is an expert on all things “uninsured” and “underinsured.” But, how does it work? What is it? Why is it not clear to everyone? Well, in short, it is neither logical nor fair!
Uninsured Motorist Coverage Protects You, Your Family.
Uninsured motorist coverage is insurance YOU purchase to protect YOU against uninsured and underinsured motorist——regrettably—–that is about everyone on the road in California! Believe it or not, California requires that UM/UIM liability coverage be at least $30,000 for each injured person and $60,000 for multiple injured people all in the same accident. However, if there is a written agreement or waiver to provide lower coverage, then an insured’s liability coverage can be reduced to $15,000/ $30,000, or dropped completely. Needless to say, never waive UM/UIM coverage!
Group 1— You and your Family.
There are three groups who are covered to varying degrees under a policy containing UM/UIM coverage. See generally Insurance Code §11580.2(b). The first group has the broadest coverage, which includes “the named insured and the spouse of the named insured and, while residents of the same household, relatives of either while occupants of a motor vehicle or otherwise…” Id. (emphasis added). Coverage for this group extends to almost any possible scenario where there is contact between one of the above persons and a UM/UIM. For example, a relative of your household would be covered under your policy if they are injured while a passenger on an uninsured/underinsured common carrier, such as a bus or cab, or even as a pedestrian on the street when struck by a UM/UIM. In essence, so long as you have this coverage, your spouse and relatives of your household will enjoy the same coverage as you in a large breadth of situations.
Group 2— Friends in your Car.
The second group extends to non-household relatives and friends you may be with during an accident, but only situations where the friend or non-household relative you are with is getting in, out or occupying an insured motor vehicle. Unlike the first group, UM/UIM coverage in this instance depends on whether the insured’s vehicle is actually insured under his or her policy. Additionally, given the narrow scope of this coverage, your friend or non-household relative would not be covered under your policy while with you in any other context. For instance, if you are biking with your spouse and friends on the street, and a UM strikes and injures your group, then your spouse would be covered under your policy, but your friends would need their own coverage to be insured.
Group 3—The People you Care For.
Finally, the third group has the narrowest coverage under your policy, which could be “any person with respect to damages he or she is entitled to recover for care or loss of services because of bodily injury to which the policy provisions or endorsement apply.” § 11580.2(b) (emphasis added). The UM must owe a duty to the caregiver or service provider, such that the conduct of the UM is the proximate cause of the providers’ damages. By way of example, housekeeping services provided by the child of the injured insured would be considered too remote from the conduct of the motorist. See, e.g., Tara v. California State Automobile Ass’n, 155 Cal. Rptr. 497, 498 (Ct. App. 1979). However, hospital treatment provided to the injured insured directly after an incident with a UM would be the proximate cause of the motorist’s conduct. See United States v. Hartford Acci. & Indem. Co., 320 F. Supp. 648, 650 (E.D. Cal. 1970).
The above demonstrates just how important and vital Uninsured Motorist coverage can be to you, your friends and your family! Should any one of them fall victim to the careless actions of an UM or UIM, you can be rest assured that the injuries sustained will be covered at least to a certain extent under your policy.