Most Americans are surprised to learn that, nationally, approximately 1 in 6 drivers on the road are uninsured. This information comes from a recent study by the Insurance Research Council. The study further shows that in some states, as many as one in three drivers are uninsured or underinsured, and that there is a solid correlation between unemployment and lack of insurance. Furthermore, statistics show that nearly one out of every two accidents involves an uninsured or inadequately insured driver.
How Can You Protect Yourself from the Costs of an Uninsured Motorist?
You should ensure that your auto insurance policy includes both uninsured motorist (UM) and underinsured motorist (UIM) coverage. As a rule, the limits on these policies should be as high as your policy’s property damage and bodily injury limits.
When someone without insurance causes an accident that involves your car, or if your car was damaged by a hit-and-run driver, UM coverage would pay for the resulting claims. On the other hand, UIM insurance provides coverage when someone else causes an accident, but does not have enough insurance to adequately cover all of your costs.
You also need to consider how much your life would change, if you were hit by an irresponsible driver. How would you make your car and mortgage payments, and pay your other expenses if you were permanently injured? UM and UIM coverages bear the cost of lost wages if you are unable to work after an injury. If you do not have these coverages and are hit by an uninsured motorist, the only other option is to pursue the driver in small claims or civil court. This often proves to be a difficult and expensive option. Thus, the benefits of this coverage can be substantial compared to the relatively low expense.
What Should You Do if You Are Hit by an Uninsured or Underinsured Motorist?
If the driver has insurance, copy down the other driver’s insurance and contact information. Whether they have a policy or not, get the driver’s name, address, and phone number. Furthermore, you should always write down the license plate number and call the police, even if the accident appears to be minor. A police report is always valuable in determining who was at fault.