Let’s say you are out and about driving in Ventura. You are stopped behind a left turning car from Thompson Boulevard onto Fir Street. You admire the beautiful red brick building on the corner. Suddenly, your car is rear ended. “Ouch,” you say as you reach for your insurance paperwork and car registration. The driver of the car that hit you apologizes and tells you his insurance coverage just lapsed, or that he only has basic coverage for the injuries he has caused you.
What to do? Well, being the smart person you are, you proceed over to that red brick building—the home of Bamieh & Erickson, PLC. You set an appointment to discuss your options. You are told that even if the other driver doesn’t have any or enough insurance to compensate you for your injuries, your own insurance policy probably does. This is typically called the “UM/UIM” coverage on your policy (which stands for ‘Uninsured Motorist or Underinsured Motorist’ coverage). The uninsured driver is one who has no insurance, and an underinsured driver is one who has insurance, but does not have payment limits high enough to cover damages.
The purpose of mandatory uninsured motorist coverage is to minimize losses to drivers who are involved in collisions with financially irresponsible or uninsured drivers. The law related to UM/UIM coverage is a little tricky in how it is applied, but in a nutshell, here’s how it work: Let’s say you suffered $100,000 in damages from the accident. The other driver has insurance policy limits of $50,000. The insurance company of the driver that hit you pays the policy limits of $50,000, and you know that you’re UM/UIM coverage in place pays up to $100,000. You can then make a claim against your own insurance company for the additional $50,000 due to you because of the accident. Where it gets tricky is that your UM/UIM policy is only for damages over and above the other party’s insurance limits. In our example, you have $100,000 in damages and the other driver only has a $15,000 policy and you only have a $15,000 policy for UM/UIM coverage. As stipulated by law, you get nothing further from your own insurance company if your policy limits are more than the other driver’s standard policy of insurance. If you are hit by an uninsured driver, the full limits of your policy are available.
Look at your car insurance policy and see what your UM/UIM policy limits are. It’s usually relatively cheap to add this coverage and considering the amount of protection it offers, it could be the difference needed to pay your medical bills, lost wages, and provide some pain and suffering damages. If you have adequate UM/UIM coverage, you can get money even if the other driver can’t pay you. We strongly advice you get as much UM/UIM coverage as you can. If you are in an accident, you don’t want to risk the real possibility that the other driver doesn’t have adequate coverage. Don’t assume that because California requires insurance, most people have it or have enough of it to cover damages.
Bamieh & Erickson, PLC regularly handles UM/UIM cases and can provide you with the advice and representation you need to successfully obtain all available damages caused to you by an automobile accident. If that unfortunate situation of being rear ended happens, please give us a call and set a consultation with one of our attorneys.