Understanding Uninsured Motorist Coverage

Cars on a highway

How can you protect yourself from uninsured or underinsured motorists? When a liable driver either does not have liability coverage or does not have enough of it to cover the expenses caused by a collision, uninsured or underinsured motorist coverage protects you. The last thing you want is to be hurt in a collision you didn’t cause and then be expected to pay out-of-pocket because the at-fault driver doesn’t have enough insurance coverage.

Uninsured motorist coverage is an option included in many automobile insurance policies, but drivers often wonder if it’s necessary. Yes, uninsured motorist coverage is strongly recommended. With uninsured motorist coverage, individuals that have been injured in an automobile collision are much more likely to receive the compensation they deserve. Specifically, what this coverage does is protect you when the liable driver’s coverage is less than what you are owed.

What Happens Immediately After the Accident?

Immediately after an collision, check yourself and the other drivers for injuries if you’re able to move around. While you wait for help, try to move your vehicle out of traffic, if possible. This preserves the evidence. Contact the police if they haven’t been called already. Then take photos of the scene and gather evidence. This can include damage to vehicles, your injuries, and the scene of the accident. Answer any questions honestly but concisely, and seek medical attention immediately, if necessary. When a claim is filed, these steps will help prove the other driver was negligent and win your case.

This isn’t always what happens, though. Winning the case does not inherently promise damages paid. If you’ve been injured and someone is found to be at-fault, it could be their responsibility to cover expenses and their liability insurance pays for it, up to the amount offered by their liability coverage. After that, it’s an out-of-pocket cost for the negligent driver. Sometimes, the driver won’t have enough insurance for liability coverage and will be unable to pay. Other times, the driver could leave before you can get their information or be uninsured. Underinsured/uninsured motorist coverage may protect you in these situations.

Which Uninsured Motorist Coverage is Right for You?

The difference between uninsured and underinsured motorist insurance: Uninsured protects you when the at-fault driver does not carry any liability coverage; underinsured is often used when the driver’s liability limits are too low to cover the cost of expenses, working in tandem between both insurances. This insurance covers both bodily injury coverage per person and bodily injury coverage per accident to sufficiently and comprehensively protect you. You’ll often find it expressed as a split between two numbers, such as 100/300, meaning $100,000/$300,000. So, you’ve decided to purchase the insurance, but now you have to choose whether you want reduced-by or add-on coverage. There are two types of underinsured/uninsured motorist coverage: traditional/reduced-by coverage and add-on coverage.

  • Reduced-by coverage provides coverage to you for the value of your claim minus the amount of coverage available from the at-fault driver’s insurance.
  • For instance, if you have $100,000 in uninsured motorist coverage, and the at-fault driver has the minimum amount of liability coverage, which pays a maximum of only $25,000, you could receive $75,000 of your own coverage.
  • Add-on coverage compensates you on top of what the liable driver’s insurance policy pays.

For instance, if you have $100,000 in uninsured motorist insurance coverage and the at-fault driver has the minimum amount of liability coverage, which pays a maximum of only $25,000, you could receive 100 percent of this amount to total $125,000. Add-on coverage is recommended because it can better compensate you for expenses that often add up quickly. Generally, your uninsured motorist insurance quote will match your liability coverage limits. This means the more assets and liability insurance you have, the higher the costs for uninsured motorist coverage. On average, liability insurance is a much greater expense than uninsured motorist coverage.

State-Specific Laws

Georgia and Arizona both require motorists to have liability coverage, which is a minimum limit of auto liability insurance that a driver must have to legally drive. With uninsured motorist coverage, it varies by state.

Arizona Uninsured Motorist Laws

Uninsured motorist coverage for bodily injury is not required by Arizona law, but legally it must be offered. The rejection must be in writing on a state-approved form. The minimum amount of coverage is $15,000 for bodily injury per person / $30,000 for bodily injury per collision. You can read the statute in its entirety as. A.R.S § 20-259.01.

Georgia Uninsured Motorist Laws

Uninsured motorist coverage for bodily injury is not required by Georgia law, but legally it must be offered. The rejection must be in writing. The minimum amount of coverage is $25,000 for bodily injury per person / $50,000 for bodily injury per collision, and an additional requirement of $25,000 for property damage per incident. You can read the statute in its entirety as O.C.G.A. § 33-7-11.

Contact Our Firm

The attorneys at Cruz & Associates are here to help when you’ve been in an accident with an uninsured motorist. Claims can be complicated and hard to settle, trust us through the process as you deal with the potential complications from either your insurance company or the liable driver’s insurance company. We’ll negotiate your settlement and look out for your interests. We’ve been protecting accident victims for more than 30 years. Our dedicated team of attorneys and paralegals provide bilingual services for your personal injury and car accident cases. The first consultation is always free, so if you have questions or need advice on what to do next after an accident, call our Atlanta office at (404) 444-1111 or our Phoenix office at (602) 777-6666.

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