Review Your Auto Insurance Policy for UM/UIM Coverage
As we prepare to turn our calendars from 2016 to 2017, many of us begin to consider the year ahead and may resolve to make some positive changes in our lives, perhaps in the form of New Year’s Resolutions. While some resolutions may be more difficult to implement and maintain than others (think eating salads for lunch and hitting the gym every morning before work), there is one resolution that you can accomplish in just a few minutes – reviewing your current auto insurance policy to ensure that you and your family are protected with sufficient coverage.
According to recent data compiled by the Insurance Research Council, nearly one in eight drivers is uninsured. While this alone is a sobering fact, in truth, many more drivers on Pennsylvania roads carry only the minimum amount of auto insurance coverage required by law. Currently, the minimum bodily injury liability coverage required in Pennsylvania is $15,000 per person injured, with a total of $30,000 for all injuries in the entire accident. This is known as a 15/30 policy. Thus, someone who finds themselves seriously injured in a car accident by the negligence of another driver who has either (1) no insurance or (2) only the minimum 15/30 policy may find himself without a sufficient source of recovery to pay for medical treatment or other losses from their injuries.
Certain coverages, namely uninsured/underinsured coverage, are available under your auto policy to help you protect yourself and your loved ones from such uncovered losses. Thus, this holiday season, take a few minutes to review your auto insurance policy to check to see that you have uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage.
Uninsured motorist coverage, or UM coverage, applies to situations where a person is injured by the negligence of a motorist who does not have insurance. Hit-and-run collisions are also covered by UM policies, so long as certain requirements are met, such as reporting the accident to authorities within 24 hours and filing a statement with your insurance carrier within 30 days. Thus, if a situation arises where the at-fault driver in a collision is uninsured or flees the scene of the accident, the UM coverage on your policy will allow you to make a claim to your automobile insurance carrier for compensation for your injuries and damages up to the amount of your policy limits.
Underinsured motorist coverage, or UIM coverage, applies to situations where the limits of available liability insurance of the at-fault driver are insufficient to pay the losses and damages suffered in the collision. Thus, if a situation arises where the at-fault driver has only minimum coverage, but your injuries exceed $15,000, the UIM coverage on your policy will allow you to make a claim to your automobile insurance carrier for compensation for your excess damages, up to the amount of your policy limits.
Pennsylvania law does not require motorists to maintain UM/UIM coverage. Many motorists attempt to cut the cost of their auto insurance by rejecting UM/UIM coverage or keeping the limits on this coverage minimal. However, by trying to save a few dollars per month, you may be exposing yourself and your family to significant risk should you be seriously injured in an automobile accident. Your decision could end up costing you more in the long term than the difference in the cost of premiums.
Finally, it should be noted that many other policy considerations must be made to ensure that you have sufficient coverage for your particular situation. These include selecting sufficient coverage limits and also electing the full tort option. However, explanation of these coverage options must wait for another edition.
If you have further questions about whether you have sufficient coverage for your particular situation, you can review your coverage with your insurance agent or a lawyer. Many personal injury law firms will review your insurance policy free of charge.
As 2016 draws to a close, please review your auto insurance policy to ensure that you have sufficient coverage for your particular situation. If you wait to check your policy until you need it, it may very well be too late.