Consider this situation:

You are driving down the road and come to a four-way stop. After you have stopped and begin to proceed, a car runs through the intersection, slamming into the side of your vehicle. The incident is so severe that not only is your car totaled, but you also suffer severe injuries. Normally, the insurance company covering the individual responsible for the accident would be responsible for covering the losses that occurred due to your accident. According to Alabama law, it is required for any vehicle on public roads to be covered by a liability policy, which means that the insurance company of the liable party will be responsible for paying for property damages and/or bodily injuries.

However, a day or two after the accident, you receive information saying that the driver who caused the accident did not have proper insurance coverage, enough insurance coverage, or no insurance at all. The next question you may be asking yourself is what you can do and who will pay for the damages to your property and your person? What options do you have?

Uninsured Motorist Coverage/Underinsured Motorist Coverage (UM/UIM), are options that can offer you coverage that additional to the coverage your existing insurance policy provides. This can be used to help to compensate you and help recover your losses. In most cases, this additional coverage can be added to your existing policy for a few extra dollars a month.

If an accident occurs where the driver who caused the accident failed to have proper insurance coverage, the UM/UIM coverage in your own insurance policy would be able to reward you with compensation instead. This means if you had just the statutory minimum of $25,000 in UM/UIM coverage you would be eligible to receive up to $25,000 dollars in damages as result of the accident.

This type of coverage also helps if the other driver is underinsured.  This means that if the damages incurred exceed the coverage amount that the at-fault driver’s insurance will pay, then your coverage will pay the rest up to a certain amount. As an example, using the statutory minimum again, the wreck causes you to have damages that exceed the $25,000 that the other driver’s insurance company will pay, then with your UM/UIM policy you would be eligible to receive up to $50,000

You can be sure that your damages will be covered in your moment of need in the event of the other motorist is not insured. You will also have the extra help you need if the at-fault party does not have enough coverage to cover all of the expenses and damages that occurred as a result of the accident. This additional coverage is valuable for any driver, because in the event the driver is uninsured, there may be no source of compensation available to you.

UM/UIM Coverage: A Practical Look

There are a few practical aspects of UM/UIM coverage you should know about to ensure your claim is accepted.  First, contact an experienced car accident lawyer that can help you deal with the insurance companies. You should also notify your insurance company as soon as possible that you have to make a claim for UM/UIM benefits if the damages and/or injuries will exceed the coverage amount of the liable driver.  Also, if you and the insurance company of the liable driver reach a settlement agreement that would release the at-fault driver from the responsibility of your damages, you will need to notify your insurance agency of the proposed agreement and get their consent before agreeing. If you don’t do this, you will most likely lose your rights to your UM/UIM benefits. Handling this on your own can be tricky. The best thing to do is seek out the counsel of an attorney with experience dealing with underinsured or uninsured motorists

It is also important to make sure you have this coverage. Although it is required by Alabama state law for insurance companies to offer UM/UIM coverage, drivers have the option to reject the policy. To do so it must be in writing and anyone insured on the policy must sign the waiver. Orally rejecting the offer will is not valid, an only the individuals who sign will be exempt from the coverage. However, rejection of this policy is not recommended.  You will never know when an accident is going to happen and you will not be aware of the amount of coverage of the insurance policy of the at-fault driver until it is too late.

A common question about this coverage is “How much coverage do I need?” Considering how many uninsured drivers are on the road combined with the number of accidents that happen per day, the answer is usually more is better. The affordable rate of UM/UIM policies make it easy to add this additional coverage onto your policy limits. In a perfect world, it wouldn’t be needed, but with the unpredictability of life, UM/UIM coverage will likely come in handy for every driver.

Having underinsured and uninsured motorist coverage may not be required, but it is a must if you want to keep yourself secured from potentially life-altering accidents. If the driver who hits you does not have insurance, you will be able to recover some of your damages. If they don’t have enough coverage, you will be able to cover the rest through your UM/UIM coverage. Remember to contact your UM/UIM provider as soon as you find out that you may need to use it. Inform your lawyer of any settlement agreements that you may be offered and allow the experience of a professional serve you in a time you will need it most. It should be noted that due to potential for litigation with any UM/UIM coverage claim, so it is wise to retain counsel that will be able to more understand your policy, negotiate with your insurance provider, and represent you if the case goes to trial. Don’t wind up paying for damages that were not your fault. Take advantage of your UM/UIM benefit options before you need them. Contact our dedicated Mobile, AL car crash lawyers today for help with your claim!