Uninsured Motorist Insurance Coverage and Claims
By FindLaw Staff | Legally reviewed by Garrett Monteagudo, Esq. | Last reviewed January 13, 2023
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You're cruising along the highway, and you're glad to be done with another week of work. As your mind wanders to all the exciting things that you're going to do this weekend, you hear a loud screech and then feel a hard crash. You've just been hit by another driver. You pull over to the side of the road and begin talking to the other motorist, quickly realizing they don't have car insurance. Thank goodness you have uninsured motorist insurance (UMI) to help cover bodily injuries and/or property damage.
Below you'll find important information about uninsured motorist coverage, how to make a claim, and how to find a skilled lawyer to help you recover for your injuries.
UMI: What is it?
Let's start with the basics. Every driver is required to have a minimum amount of car insurance under state law. Why? It's for situations exactly like the one described above.
Even if the other driver doesn't have any money, their insurance company will be required to pay for an accident that's their fault, depending on the negligence laws of that particular state.
This type of coverage is known as "liability coverage," mandated by financial responsibility laws. But there are situations where drivers simply don't carry the required amount of minimum coverage. Does that mean that you have to pay out-of-pocket for your own expenses? No, this is where UMI kicks in.
If you elected to purchase this coverage, your insurer will pay for injury or death to you and your passengers in one of three scenarios:
- Another uninsured driver caused the accident,
- Another driver is underinsured (insurance company pays too little for your damages), or
- You're involved in a hit and run accident.
Is UMI a Mandatory Insurance Requirement?
It depends on where you live, but UMI coverage is generally optional. Those options vary widely by state, including coverage choices, available limits, and mandatory requirements.
If you're able to do so, it's a good idea to purchase this coverage as part of your policy to help you handle the unexpected, and oftentimes unavoidable, car accident. Some insurance companies offer Uninsured Motorist Property Damage insurance (UMPD), which covers damage to your vehicle or other property.
Making a UMI Claim
Okay, so now what do you do? Well, if the other driver doesn't have insurance, you can either sue them, or you can make your UMI claim to your insurance company. It's highly unlikely the other driver has the assets to cover your damage if they don't have liability coverage to begin with. So, you'll likely want to go with the second option.
You'll want to contact your insurer as soon as possible because most insurance companies have time limits on when you can file an uninsured motorist claim. If you fail to meet the requirement, you may be prevented from collecting on the claim. A claims adjuster will handle your case and investigate whether or not you have the correct coverage and who was the at-fault driver. There is always the possibility of your insurer denying your claim, but each case is different and dependent on the unique facts.
Uninsured Motorist Coverage and Claims: Related Resources
Consider reviewing the following resources for more information related to handling filing insurance claims after an accident:
- Stages of a Personal Injury Case
- Taking Notes About Car Accident Injuries
- Car Accident Do's and Don'ts
Questions About Uninsured Motorist Insurance Coverage? An Attorney Can Help
You should be familiar with the insurance laws in your state and how you can seek recovery if you have damages related to a car accident. If you have additional questions or concerns, you may want to contact an experienced personal injury attorney who specializes in motor vehicle accidents.
You Don’t Have To Solve This on Your Own – Get a Lawyer’s Help
Meeting with a lawyer can help you understand your options and how to best protect your rights. Visit our attorney directory to find a lawyer near you who can help.
Contact a qualified auto accident attorney to make sure your rights are protected.