Currently, nearly 1 out of every 7 drivers is uninsured in the United States according to the Insurance Research Council. These statistics are significant considering that an auto accident with an uninsured driver can cause significant costs to the party who was not at fault. When someone is involved in an accident as a result of the other driver, they would sue the insurance of the party at fault. However, if the other driver does not have auto insurance then there is no insurance to sue. And often, individuals who do not have insurance do not have many assets, so it can be difficult to sue them personally. This means that even if you were not at fault, you would be left with the responsibility to pay for the damages caused by the uninsured driver.
Car insurance is a legal requirement in California; however, as of 2012, California ranked 13 in the highest percentage of uninsured motorists by state according to the Insurance Information Institute.
Fortunately, there are ways to protect yourself if you are hit by an uninsured or underinsured driver.
Uninsured Motorist (UM) Coverage, also called Uninsured Motorist Bodily Injury Insurance, replaces the liability coverage the driver without insurance should have had. It gives you coverage for all your costs up to your policy’s limits. This includes medical bills, lost wages, and cost of pain and suffering. UM insurance will also pay if you are the victim of a hit and run accident. A similar and also helpful policy is an Underinsured (UIM) insurance policy. This policy fills the gap between what the at fault driver’s insurance will pay at the total cost of the accident, up to your policy’s limits.
Uninsured and underinsured motorist coverage can be purchased to cover bodily injuries, and in some states property damage as well. For example, if an uninsured motorist causes damage to your house.
Some states require all motorists to have UM coverage, but in many others, this coverage is optional. Even if UM coverage is not required, like in California, adding UM coverage doesn’t cost very much. On top of that, it helps protect you from irresponsible drivers.
That statisticians at Nerdwallet.com calculated how much uninsured and underinsured motorist coverage adds to your premium. They used the references of the typical amount of motorist coverage – $100,000 bodily injury per person and $300,000 bodily injury per accident (100/300), and found that the average annual premium for a 100/300 policy without UM coverage is $1,181. The cost of adding UM coverage and Underinsured coverage to the same existing policy is only $107. This means that your insurance premium would only raise by $107 per year if you wish to protect yourself against uninsured and underinsured drivers.
The average car crash related trip to the emergency room costs about $3,300 according to the CDC. Without UM coverage, you could be liable for your own medical treatment if you were hit by an uninsured driver. Even if you have health insurance, the UM policy will cover expenses that the medical insurance otherwise would not. For example, if your injury caused you to miss work. Adding UM coverage is not an expensive investment and a smart one at that considering 1 in 7 motorists on the road are uninsured.