The When and How of Underinsured and Uninsured Motorist Claims and Insurance
If you’re involved in a car accident in which the other person has no car insurance or an insurance policy that doesn’t cover the car accident damages, you’ll need to file an underinsured or uninsured motorist claim with your car insurance provider. Underinsured motorist coverage (UIM) and uninsured motorist coverage (UM) provide different types of coverage, but they are related, and each can play an important part in obtaining compensation for your damages when an underinsured/uninsured driver causes a car crash.
In this article, our California car accident attorney discusses:
- What is Underinsured Motorist Insurance Coverage?
- What is Uninsured Motorist Insurance Coverage?
- When Should You File an Underinsured or Uninsured Claim in California?
- Limits on Underinsured and Uninsured Motorist Coverage
- Can My Insurance Provider Deny a UIM or UM Claim?
Underinsured Motorist Accidents Coverage: What Is It?
Many people misunderstand what underinsured motorist coverage is. Some people believe that this type of coverage only kicks in if the other driver is carrying below the legally required minimum amount of insurance. However, underinsured driver coverage acts more like gap coverage and is designed to protect you in the event that the other driver in the accident doesn’t have enough coverage to compensate you for all of your losses.
For instance, if the crash results in $50,000 in property damage, medical bills, lost wages, and other damages, you cannot receive full compensation from the at-fault driver if the driver carries a maximum of $40,000 in coverage. However, by filing an underinsured motorist claim with your insurance provider, you may be able to receive the additional $10,000 to pay your claim in full under your UIM coverage.
UIM coverage doesn’t allow you to double dip. You cannot receive money for the same damages from both insurance companies. Your UIM coverage is intended to fill in the “gap” between the at-fault driver’s insurance coverage and your actual damages.
Uninsured Motorist Claim & Accidents Coverage
Similarly, an uninsured motorist claim is a claim filed with your own insurance company. However, you file a UM claim with the driver who caused the car accident does not have any insurance coverage. Sadly, there are thousands of uninsured drivers in California. The Lawyers of The Thompson Law Office typically encourage drivers to purchase the highest limits they can afford of UM and UIM coverage to ensure they are protected from individuals who choose to disregard the law by driving without insurance.
When you file a UM insurance claim with your insurance company, your insurance company “stands in the shoes of” the insurance provider for the uninsured driver. Therefore, the injury claim you file should be for the entire amount of your car accident damages.
However, do not assume that you will automatically receive whatever amount you ask for because you are dealing with your insurance provider. Below, our California car accident attorneys discuss bad faith insurance issues and how they relate to UM, and UIM claims.
When Should You File a UM or UIM Claim in California?
If you’re going to make an underinsured or uninsured motorist claim, you need to act fast. Immediately notify your insurance company that an accident occurred and that you’ll be filing under one of these provisions. Most insurance companies give you as little as 30 days to discover the need for the claim, which means to realize you’re dealing with an underinsured or uninsured motorist and make a claim.
Even if you suspect the other driver is uninsured or underinsured, you should contact your insurance company. They can usually find out quickly whether or not you’re dealing with one of those types of claims, or if you’d be better off pursuing compensation from the other driver’s insurance company.
Limits on Underinsured and Uninsured Motorist Coverage
There are some limits to the amount of underinsured or uninsured motorist claim coverage you can purchase. The most common limit states that the amount of uninsured or underinsured motorist insurance you purchase cannot exceed the amount of your general liability, or regular, insurance policy. This situation could create a situation where policyholders stock up on underinsured and uninsured motorist coverage but only carry the basic, bare-bones coverage for their general liability. This issue would put insurance companies in a difficult financial place. You can discuss the various coverage options with your insurance agent to determine the maximum insurance coverage you can afford based on your financial situation. In most cases, UM and UIM coverage is very affordable compared to the value you receive.
Bad Faith Potential – Dealing With Your Own Insurance Provider for a Car Accident Claim
Also, be aware of how confrontational your insurance company is in handling your underinsured or uninsured motorist claim. If you make one of these claims, your insurance company will likely do a thorough investigation, including the details of your medical treatment, the types of injuries you incurred, and other details. However, they have a legal duty to handle your claim in good faith. If you suspect your insurance company is being overly adversarial in handling this type of claim, the investigation could lead to a bad-faith claim against your insurance company.
Always be sure to consult a California personal injury attorney with Lawyers of The Thompson Law Office whenever you’ve been in a car accident. This step is particularly important if you’re in a car accident involving property damage or personal injury. While insurance companies can do a lot for you in terms of protecting you against underinsured or uninsured drivers, there are many legal aspects of car accident law that make these issues complex and confusing. Most things in law are not as cut and dry as they seem, and it always benefits you to consult with a car accident lawyer to make sure you’re getting the compensation you deserve.
Thompson Law Office Can Help With Your Uninsured Motorist Claim
The Thompson Law Office is here to help you with your underinsured or uninsured motorist claim. Insurance bad faith claims can be very complex, and insurance companies know that most individuals do not understand the complicated laws and procedures for these claims.
However, California has among the most developed and favorable insurance bad faith laws in the country, and a California attorney experienced in insurance law and working closely with insurance companies can evaluate whether a bad faith claim has arisen, and how to obtain maximum recovery under the claim.
Thompson Law Office is a San Mateo County law firm with experienced insurance bad faith lawyers. If you believe your insurance company has denied you coverage unjustly and you may be the victim of insurance bad faith, please contact Thompson Law Office for a free consultation with a California car accident attorney to discuss how our team of legal professionals can help you recover the compensation or uninsured motorist claim payouts you deserve.