All auto insurance policies have a maximum limit they’ll pay out. If you hit the limit of someone’s insurance and you still have more damages, it will be difficult to get the rest. One way to do this is through underinsured motorist coverage.
The value you can get from an underinsured motorist claim depends on your policy and how much more you need to cover your damages completely. Here are the details on this type of coverage and how it can help you if you’re in this situation from our Atlanta car accident attorneys.
What Is Underinsured Motorist Coverage?
Underinsured motorist coverage, or UIM coverage, is an option on your car insurance coverage that pays you if the other drivers don’t have enough coverage to meet your damages. It can cover both bodily injury and collision damages.
It’s often sold together with uninsured motorist coverage, which covers you if the other driver has no insurance at all. You might see the combination on your policy as UI/UIM coverage. Many states require this coverage as part of minimum coverage, but it’s available in all the others.
These options can be a lifeline if you need more money to cover your damages. Without them, you will need to sue the responsible driver in court and hope they have enough assets to pay you. A personal injury lawyer can help you find out if this is a workable option.
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Which States Require Underinsured Motorist Coverage?
The states that require underinsured motorist coverage are Connecticut, Kansas, Maine, Maryland, Minnesota, Nebraska, New Hampshire, North Dakota, South Dakota, Vermont, and Virginia. Virginia has optional car insurance, but if you get it, then you must get coverage.
Different states have different minimums and will vary on whether the required coverage only covers bodily injury or if it covers both bodily injury and property damage. In all other states, underinsured motorist coverage is optional.
It’s important to know how much your coverage is worth. It affects how much you can get from an underinsured motorist claim. Your insurance provider may also have other conditions on when this insurance can be used and how it combines with other policies.
Using Your UIM Coverage
Making a claim using UIM coverage is fairly straightforward. You must contact your own insurer and make a claim. They will send an adjuster to see if your case qualifies and how much more you’ll need to become whole.
However, even though you’re using your own insurance company, it’s best to have a personal injury lawyer on your side. They can help you prove how much your case is really worth so your insurer doesn’t say you’ve received enough.
Using your UIM coverage should not raise your insurance premiums much, barring any other negative factors on your policy history. It’s intended to be a protection against someone else’s negligence, so there isn’t a reason to blame you for using it.
Is UIM Coverage Expensive?
UIM coverage rarely adds too much to your monthly premiums. Like all policies, you can pay more if you want to have more protection. If you have vulnerable health or if you drive an expensive vehicle, you’ll want enough insurance to cover your needs.
The more coverage you have, the easier it will be for you or your lawyer to negotiate with the insurer because you’re paying more into the premium pool. The closer you get to the limit, or if you need more than your limit, that’s when working with an insurer gets difficult.
Remember, insurers would prefer to pay as little as possible. They are bound by their policy contracts, though, so if you’re paying for UIM coverage, then you should get it.
Can I Claim the Full Value of my UIM Coverage?
How much you can get from your UIM claim depends on the remainder of the damages you’re owed after the other policy pays out. If your damages are $70,000 and you’ve hit the maximum of $50,000 from the other driver’s policy, then you can claim up to $20,000 from your policy.
You cannot claim more damages than you can prove, even if you have more room in your policy. If you believe you need more than what you’re offered, you’ll need to prove it to the insurer. A car accident lawyer’s help is invaluable for this.
UIM policy amounts usually start at the same value as the minimum coverage for your state, but you will need to check state laws to make sure. Insurers may have their own limitations on how much coverage you can have based on their internal rules and your driving history.
Will Underinsured Motorist Coverage Cover a Hit and Run Accident?
UIM coverage isn’t intended to cover you if the other driver has no insurance or cannot be found to make a claim. This is common in hit-and-run accidents. It’s meant to cover you if the other driver doesn’t have enough insurance.
However, uninsured motorist coverage and underinsured motorist coverage are usually offered as a bundle in your policy. It would be unlikely to have just one of them. Make sure you have both UI and UIM coverage on your policy, or talk with your insurance agent to make sure.
The Value of Uninsured Motorist Coverage
The value of your policy and the amount of remaining damages dictates how much you can get from an underinsured motorist claim. You must have the right coverage for either bodily injury or property damage. It may be bundled in your state, or they may be separate.
This coverage is a valuable lifeline if you get into an accident that’s more severe than the usual accident or if you drive an expensive car. If you believe you deserve more damages and there is enough coverage in your policy, you will need the help of a personal injury attorney to argue why you need more. Contact John Foy for assistance with an underinsured motorist claim.