Do I need uninsured and underinsured (UIM/UM) coverage?
Having adequate auto insurance protection is always important, even for those who think it will strain their personal budget. All states require drivers to have a minimum amount of liability insurance, but most of those states set very low minimum standards that can be exhausted quickly even in a simple accident. And sadly, surveys indicate that one out of seven drivers on the roadways in California drive without any insurance coverage at all, which is one reason having uninsured and under-insured coverage is so vital.
Collisions resulting in passenger injuries as well will also often exceed coverage limits for negligent drivers who are largely at fault for an accident. And, in states like California, fault is the central issue when liability is determined by the courts. All drivers involved in an accident in the state will been assigned a comparative negligence percentage that is used when total damages available are calculated. Damages for those operating a vehicle are then discounted by the percentage of fault assigned to them, with passengers normally have a zero fault rating unless there are extenuating material case factors concerning how the accident happened.
Comparative negligence legal application can also be an important issue when negotiating with a respondent insurance company that is attempting to deny or lessen the value of a claim. This is often where settlement negotiations are worst, even when their client was obviously negligent. One of the most effective methods of protecting against this predicament is having an uninsured and under-insured motorist coverage rider on your personal auto policy to use as additional protection in the event the total damages calculation is beyond the limit of the defendant’s auto insurance policy, if there is any.
One alternative to having an uninsured and under-insured auto policy coverage rider is purchasing personal insurance protection, or PIP, for yourself. This insurance effectively does the same thing as uninsured and under-insured protection to a certain extent. Personal insurance protection is available immediately following your injury because it is paid regardless of fault for your personal injuries. Coverage includes payment of medical bills and lost wages, along with pain-and-suffering non-compensatory damages as well. Uninsured and under-insured cases must be determined by the court system in most situations, or at least be obvious material case factors, and recovering a settlement through this policy rider can be a frustrating experience in certain instances.
One of the primary disadvantages of uninsured and under-insured coverage other than an increased premium is that it could easily put an injured policy holder in a legal adversarial situation with their own insurance company. While many injured plaintiffs feel comfortable handling the claim personally with their agent, the truth is that the agent may not inform you of all available revenue streams. The most important component of an auto accident injury claim is the settlement for pain and suffering, which can ultimately be a long-term situation if the injury does not heal thoroughly. Your claims adjuster can still be difficult with respect to personal comparative negligence percentages, which is an area where having an experienced and aggressive personal injury lawyer is usually most important. It is easy to be beaten out of a whole settlement when your agent can be successful in keeping an attorney out of the process.
In a state such as California where many motorists do not comply with insurance laws and medical coverage tends to be more expensive than any other region in the United States, there is never such a thing as too much insurance. Not only should drivers be financially responsible with the level of insurance they provide to protect against a liability lawsuit, they should also be equally concerned about having adequate personal protection as well because an accident can do massive damage to an individual’s life in a split second. And, never attempt to handle your auto accident claim personally. Car crashes can be very complicated legal issues and unraveling them is often very challenging. Receiving a whole financial settlement is commonly the result of having a solid personal injury attorney who understands how insurance companies operate in bad faith when attempting to limit a claim or deny it altogether.