Tragedy Avoided: Uninsured and Under Insured Motorist Coverage
In Pennsylvania, we are only required to carry $15,000 worth of bodily injury coverage. Car accident lawyers call it a minimum policy or a 15/30 policy. This means that if YOU cause an accident, and OTHERS are injured, with your minimum policy, the injured person would receive up to $15,000 for his or her injuries, no matter how severe the injuries are. In the event that more than one person is injured, they would be able to receive up to $30,000 total (split up according to each person’s injury). Ok, so, that doesn’t seem so horrible.
Now, let’s flip the scenario around. Let’s say “Bob” has a minimum policy, runs a red light, and strikes your car. You were in the ICU for four days, suffered two broken legs, broken ribs, a punctured lung and head trauma. Your hospital bill alone is over $50,000. Not to mention the fact that you lost your job, you need physical therapy, and you have no way to pay your mortgage or car payment. You will only to be able to recover $15,000, UNLESS, you selected uninsured/under insured motorist coverage (UM/UIM) on YOUR auto insurance policy. UM/UIM coverage saves the day!
UM/UIM coverage protects you from drivers who are not insured (in Philadelphia, that could be close to half of the drivers you encounter) or drivers those who carry minimum policies. It is NOT expensive, and it is NECESSARY. If you have children, especially teenagers, you need UM/UIM coverage. Your UM/UIM coverage generally extends to your resident relatives, or your family members that live with you.
So, let’s look at the teenage child example. Your daughter is a passenger in her boyfriend’s car, when he loses control and strikes a tree, severely injuring your daughter. Your daughter’s boyfriend only has a minimum policy (mmm…shocker). You hire a car accident lawyer. The car accident lawyer pursues a case against your daughter’s boyfriend. Actually, against his insurance company. (**Remember, the insurance company defends the case and pays the settlement or judgment, not the individual.**)
OPTION A: if you do NOT have UM/UIM, you can only receive $15,000, which, after liens and expenses, may not even pay for her tutors to help her catch up with her schoolwork.
OPTION B: if you do have UM/UIM, then you can recover the $15,000 from the boyfriend’s insurance PLUS the difference from your UM/UIM. So, if you have a $100,000 UM/UIM policy, and you have two vehicles, stacked, (stacking increases the coverage by the number of cars you have on the policy – a $100,000 UIM policy with two cars is $200,000 worth of UIM coverage) then you may receive up to $185,000 to make up for the boyfriend’s lack of coverage.
I think we would all choose OPTION B. Now, take a look at your policy to make sure you have included UM/UIM in your auto insurance! If you are not sure, call one of our car accident lawyers, and they can help evaluate your situation in a FREE consultation.