Though there are laws in almost every state that require drivers to carry car insurance, there are still some drivers who do not obey. According to the Insurance Research Council’s 2009 data, one in seven drivers is uninsured. So what should you do? Stay ahead of the game and protect yourself and your family by carrying uninsured motorist (UM) or underinsured motorist (UIM) coverage.
What is uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage?
Uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage protects you if an uninsured driver crashes into your vehicle. Unlike health insurance, which typically only takes care of health expenses, UM/UIM may pay for lost wages, pain and suffering. Without this type of coverage, you are relying on the other driver to either have insurance coverage or enough personal assets to compensate you for your damages. Typically, if a driver cannot afford car insurance, the driver usually will not be able to pay for your damages.
What if I have been hit by an uninsured driver?
You want to make sure that you document the driver’s contact information, insurance information and license plate number. You also want to immediately report the accident to the police and give all necessary information to your insurance provider.
Can I file a claim for every motor vehicle accident involving an uninsured/underinsured driver?
Not necessarily. If you are at fault for causing the accident, then you have no right to recover from the other driver. In that situation, the other driver’s uninsured status does not directly impact you, but it could result in a citation for the other driver. They may have to pay fines or face license suspension for breaking the law.
Can I be compensated if the accident was not completely my fault?
In many states, including Ohio, there is a law called the comparative-negligence law in which the other driver must be more than 50 percent at fault in order for you to collect damages for your portion of blame.
Generally speaking, the only way to be compensated, in full, from a responsible party is if you are 100 percent free of any fault. In many states (including Ohio), however, you may recover some of your damages as long as you are less than 50 percent at fault for the accident. If your contributory fault is more than 50 percent, you generally cannot recover any of your damages. If you are less than 50 percent at fault, your damages are reduced by the percentage of your fault. Whether you are at fault and, if so, in what percentage, is an “issue of fact.” If you and the other party do not agree on the proper assignment of fault, then the issue may need to be decided by a jury.
What if the other driver’s insurance isn’t enough?
In Ohio, the required minimum for coverage is $12,500 per person injured in any one accident and $25,000 for all persons injured in any one accident, which may not be enough in your situation. Under the UIM plan, you may be entitled to “excess coverage” in which you receive more than what the other driver’s insurance covers. You may also want to look into umbrella insurance which offers additional protection in times of need. Get a quote from an insurer to ensure you find a policy that best suits your needs.