Surprisingly, auto insurance is not necessarily a requirement of vehicle owners in every state. Car owners in Virginia can opt out of carrying auto insurance by paying an uninsured motor vehicle fee to the state. In New Hampshire, a vehicle owner can waive insurance if they are able to prove they have sufficient funds to cover the cost of an accident. Mississippi allows vehicle owners to post cash bonds in place of having auto insurance. These alternatives to having auto insurance are risky to the car owners and to other drivers and passengers on the road. The risk factor comes into play when an accident involves huge sums of money to pay for vehicle damage and medical costs.
This is one reason why most auto insurance policies include underinsured motorist coverage. Underinsured motorist coverage is designed to step in and cover the balance of costs after the at-fault driver’s insurance caps out, or if their cash bonds and other assets are insufficient. In some states, underinsured coverage is required, while in others it is not even available for purchase. When reviewing your auto insurance policy, or shopping around for a new one, be sure to ask if you are eligible for underinsured motorist coverage. Often there are options in underinsurance coverage when it comes to the maximum it covers and the costs for each level of coverage.
If the At-fault Driver Has Full Coverage, Isn’t That Enough?
Not necessarily. Let’s say you get involved in an auto accident in which you were not at fault. Your car accident lawyer makes a clear case portraying that fact, and the at-fault driver does not even contest it. Even if that at-fault driver is “fully insured,” every auto insurance policy has a cap, or maximum amount that the insurance company will pay out; leaving you with costly damage and medical bills.
The costs you may incur as a result of the other person’s negligence could be related to:
- Substantial damage to your car and its contents.
- Damage done by your car to a third part as a result of the at-fault driver’s negligence
- Substantial and serious injury to yourself. Medical costs could include ambulance transportation, emergency room care, doctors’ examinations, drugs, surgeries, hospital stays, and long term physical therapy among other costly line items.
- Substantial and serious injury to a third party like passenger or pedestrian.
There are many instances where at-fault driver may not be sufficiently insured. For this reason, many car accident attorneys will recommend that drivers invest in underinsured motorist coverage. It may not solve all your problems in the event of a costly accident, but it can lessen the horrific aftermath that may result when the at-fault driver is underinsured.
Make sure to speak with a competent lawyer to fully understand your rights. This blog is for informational purposes only!
Thank you to our contributors at Los Angeles Personal Injury Lawyers for their insight into underinsured motorist coverage and personal injury practice.