Why Every Driver Should Have Uninsured and Underinsured Motorist Coverage
Regardless of how safe you are while driving, there is always a possibility of being hit by another driver. Even scarier, that driver may not have proper insurance to cover the accident – or worse, that driver doesn’t have insurance at all. The Insurance Research Council (IRC) estimates that 1 driver out of every 7 drivers in the U.S. is currently uninsured. An accident with an uninsured or underinsured motorist can result in significant costs to you that aren’t covered by a basic liability insurance policy.
This is why it’s so important that every driver purchase uninsured and underinsured motorist coverage in their car insurance policy. Each state’s liability limits vary, but in Arizona, the minimum coverage required by law is expressed as 15/30/10: $15,000 per person bodily injury, $30,000 per accident bodily injury, and $10,000 per accident property damage. Keep in mind that this insurance may not be enough. In fact, we at Knapp & Roberts recommend increasing coverage. Most insurance companies only charge a few dollars more per month to increase your coverage, but it makes the world of difference if or when you need it.
Here’s an example where a driver had sufficient underinsured coverage:
Let’s say your accident-related medical expenses total $200,000. The driver who was found at fault has a bodily injury liability coverage limit of $100,000, so you get a check from the driver’s insurer for $100,000. If you have underinsured motorist (UIM) coverage on your insurance policy and a coverage limit of $200,000 per incident, it will cover the remaining $100,000 difference.
It’s important to note that if this driver has no insurance at all, you will need uninsured motorist (UM) coverage to pay the expenses.
Here’s an example of someone who does NOT have sufficient underinsured motorist coverage:
Let’s say you get in an accident and you are not at fault. The at-fault driver has $50,000 of bodily injury liability coverage. Your UIM coverage is $25,000. Your medical expenses total $100,000. Because your underinsured motorist coverage is LESS than the at-fault driver’s liability bodily injury coverage, you are unable to collect for the damages.
However, if your insurance were $100,000, you would be able to collect for the damages over $50,000 and up to $100,000.
So how much coverage should you have?
The short answer: as much as you can afford. A good rule of thumb is to insure what you have to lose. If you can write a check for $15,000, then you need more than $15,000 worth of coverage. If you own real estate other than your home, have your own business, have more than one car, stocks, savings, retirement accounts, a well-paying job that leaves you with discretionary income – then you need enough coverage to protect those assets in the event that you’re liable for severe injuries to others. As your net worth rises, you’ll want to increase your coverage to match.
According to carinsurance.com, most financial experts say coverage of 100/300/100 is appropriate for most middle-income earners. You can find a handy car insurance calculator here that asks a few simple questions and determines what the best option for you might be. This is a good starting point for most drivers. Although moving to 100/300/100 coverage from a policy that is much less than that may seem like a big jump, the difference usually only costs a few dollars extra per month. Remember: a few dollars now could save you hundreds of thousands later.
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The personal injury attorneys in Phoenix, Arizona at Knapp & Roberts have the compassion and trial lawyer skills to tell your story to a jury. We will get to know you and your family so that we can help the jury understand what has happened to you and your family and how it has changed your lives. Obtain the compensation necessary for the injuries and losses you have suffered.