This question is inevitably asked during every client intake I’ve ever done for an automobile accident. My answer is always the same, “How much uninsured/underinsured motorist (“UIM”) coverage do you have?”
This answer always takes people by surprise. You were minding your own business when a reckless driver wasn’t paying attention and caused the crash. Now you’ve been injured through no fault of your own, you are trying to figure out how to pay for your medical bills and I’m asking about your UIM coverage.
For a majority of the auto accident cases that come through our door, it is unknown how much insurance the wrongful driver is carrying. Insurance carriers are not required to reveal policy limits amount until a lawsuit has been filed.
According to the Insurance Research Council, about 15% of drivers in California drive with no insurance. In addition, a large portion of the population in California only purchase the minimal policy limits, which is $15,000.00 per person/$30,000.00 aggregate limit for a bodily injury. Thus, the odds are strong that the person who crashed into you either does not have insurance, or only has $15,000.00 to recover from.
If you have been seriously injured, now you have to try to recoup your medical bills, lost wages, the attorneys’ fee and your pain and suffering from only $15,000.00. While you may think that you can recover the amounts needed to fully compensate yourself from the actual driver, the reality is someone who doesn’t have automobile insurance or can only afford a $15,000.00 insurance policy probably doesn’t have assets to recover from…or would simply file bankruptcy.
What Is The Solution?
Maximize your own UIM coverage! It is the best value for an insurance product on the market and will protect you and your family should the unfortunate occur. (E.g. on average, it costs approximately 25% of what you pay for your liability portion of your insurance to maximize your UIM).
It is amazing that I consistently see clients showing me their automobile policy declarations page, where they have purchased $100,000/$250,000.00 in liability coverage, yet only have $15,000.00 for themselves in UIM coverage.
While I understand the logic, the practical reality is if you do cause a crash, the odds are high that your personal assets will not be endangered. By carrying a liability limit of $100,000.00/$250,000.00 but not matching the UIM coverage is essentially allowing others the ability to recover for their injuries but not doing the same to protect yourself or your loved ones.
I have had to settle cases for $15,000.00 where clients have suffered catastrophic injuries or even lost their life because the other driver did not have insurance and the client only had the minimal UIM. The problem is that you cannot control the recklessness of other drivers or how much insurance they purchase. You can only control how much UIM you have. Don’t delay and talk to your agent today. If you need a referral, please do not hesitate to contact our office.