Your daughter is on her way back to school in the safe car you got her. She’s a good driver—as good as you can expect at that age—and you’ve got her covered under a great policy. She’s pulling through a major intersection when a driver approaching from the other direction cuts in front of her to turn left. The cars collide, your daughter trying desperately to slam on the breaks, only to smash into the other car’s empty passenger-side door. Your daughter’s car is totaled, your daughter endures broken bones, multiple surgeries; she’ll need time off of school to recover and physical therapy just to walk. She’ll never play competitive soccer again. But she’s alive, and that is a relief. As the bills mount, you look not to your own insurance plan, but to the other driver’s plan, the driver that was so careless that it almost cost your daughter her life. Not surprisingly, the other driver was just as careless choosing an insurance policy. Suddenly, through no fault of your daughter or yourself, you are facing crippling medical bills that will soon eclipse your medical coverage limits. Where do you turn?
The answer is Uninsured and Underinsured Motorist (“UIM”) coverage, which can be the most important insurance you’ll ever buy (even though car insurance isn’t cheap anywhere). In fact, some states (formerly, Ohio) mandate that insurers offer this coverage precisely because of how important it can be, but how often its importance is overlooked until it’s too late. With an estimated 16% of drivers uninsured in 2010, now is the time to review your policies!
In this blog series, I’ll walk through the basics of uninsured and underinsured motorist coverage, what you need to know and the questions you—or your client—need to ask an insurance agent (Part 1). I’ll then cover some of the traps to avoid in selecting or enforcing coverage (Part 2). Finally, we’ll turn to changes in Ohio law on UIM coverage and how you or your client might have a claim for UIM coverage after all (Part 3).
Now a word of caution: states individually regulate insurance, and while this makes for a great variety of “laboratories” to experiment on what works best, it also means that your particular state laws, and your particular policy terms, will determine your coverage. So, read on, share your comments, suggestions and stories below, but remember to consult with a qualified attorney in your state! You can find plenty of them right here in Injury Board.
Do you have experience needing—or getting—Uninsured Motorist coverage? Leave a comment below (it’s fast and easy), and check back for the later parts of the series. You’ll be able to find them under my recent activity here.