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Uninsured Motorist coverage (UM) or Underinsured Motorist coverage (UIM) can be a complicated topic for those who have never been involved in a motor vehicle accident. Many people don’t know that there is the possibility that you could be hit by a driver without insurance or enough insurance.
When an at-fault driver does not have adequate insurance coverage (or no coverage at all) to cover your total losses, already having purchased uninsured motorist coverage or underinsured motorist coverage will provide you significant benefits and less reason to worry about the accident.
Likewise, if you were recently involved in an accident – and the other driver involved is not fully covered by insurance – the Fitzpatrick Firm and its auto accident attorneys will be your guide throughout the entire process.
What Is Uninsured Motorist Coverage?
Uninsured motorist coverage is insurance that you purchase to protect yourself financially if you are in an accident caused by a driver who does not have insurance.
If you are hit by an uninsured driver, your own insurance company will pay for your medical expenses, lost wages, and other damages, up to the limit of your policy.
It can also provide coverage if you are hit by a hit-and-run driver.
While most drivers are required to have car insurance, there are still a significant number of drivers on the road who do not have it.
If you are in an accident with one of these drivers, you could end up facing significant financial costs.
How Do I Purchase Uninsured Motorist Insurance?
When you purchase auto insurance, Georgia law requires insurance companies to make uninsured motorist coverage or underinsured motorist coverage fully accessible.
A person who purchases or renews an auto insurance policy literally has to sign a document that allows them to elect or decline make uninsured motorist coverage or underinsured motorist coverage.
If you choose to purchase this coverage, you will also have the option to extend the uninsured motorist coverage to the following: spouse, any other family members living with you, any and all passengers in your vehicle, and anyone who you allow to maintain and operate your vehicle.
The uninsured motorist coverage or underinsured motorist coverage can be at amounts up to the amount of coverage that a person carries for other liability coverage.
Also, you can select whether or not you want to be reduced by uninsured motorist coverage or added to uninsured motorist coverage.
Reduced uninsured motorist or underinsured motorist auto insurance fills in the gaps when there is not enough or no coverage for the at-fault driver and covers you up to an equal amount of your policy.
Add-on uninsured motorist or underinsured motorist liability coverage adds additional coverage on top of whatever you may or may not get from the at-fault driver without any concerns for the at-fault driver’s limits and whether their limits equal your policy.
Specific Situations Where Having Uninsured Motorist Or Underinsured Motorist Coverage Is Imperative
If you are hit and an at-fault driver does not have car insurance or has auto insurance with policy limits that will not cover complete and total losses, uninsured motorist coverage comes in handy.
For example, a driver may cause a collision that results in damage to multiple vehicles and multiple individuals.
If this driver is not insured to the point where their policy can cover everyone's injuries and everyone’s vehicles, the victims in that collision could be without compensation for their property, their pain and suffering, lost wages, and/or medical expenses.
In this scenario, uninsured motorist coverage or underinsured motorist coverage would be the coverage that protects you when the at-fault driver causes more damage than their insurance can cover.
Does Uninsured Motorist Insurance Coverage Protect You When A Motorist Leaves The Scene Of An Accident?
Also, it is not uncommon for an at-fault driver to leave the scene unannounced and unidentified; this is yet another circumstance where having uninsured motorist coverage is beneficial.
In this scenario, your uninsured motorist coverage or underinsured motorist coverage would compensate you for your injuries and property damage.
Minimum Liability Coverage Amounts Required by Georgia Law
- Bodily Injury → $25K per person
- Bodily Injury → $50K per accident
- Property Damage → $25K per accident
The minimum liability coverage amounts required by Georgia law are $25,000 per person with a total of $50,000 per accident for bodily injury claims.
This means that the most an insurer will pay two people who are injured in the same collision is $25,000 per person for a total of $50,000.00.
This also means that if five people get injured in the same collision the most an insurer will pay for all five people is $50,000 total. Thus, the insurer could elect to pay as little as $10,000 per person to stay under the $50,000 limit. This is regardless of injuries.
As you can see, the minimum limits listed above will not necessarily cover all losses in a motor vehicle accident. Especially if the accident either involved a multitude of vehicles and passengers or if the injuries sustained after the accident are extremely serious.
Therefore, it is paramount that you have uninsured motorist coverage or underinsured motorist coverage because you never know when these situations or circumstances may transpire.
Will Uninsured Motorist (UM) or Underinsured Motorist Claims Raise My Insurance Rates Or Premiums?
No. This is a question that is frequently asked by my clients as they question whether or not it is in their best interest to file an insurance claim under their uninsured motorist or underinsured motorist policy for injuries sustained in an auto accident.
Georgia law does not allow insurance companies to raise rates for people electing to use their uninsured motorist coverage or underinsured motorist coverages. Why should they? It's not the injured party’s fault that someone else was uninsured or underinsured.
Furthermore, uninsured motorist insurance or underinsured motorist auto insurance is coverage that you elect and pay an additional premium to have. Thus, you should be able to use it without financial repercussions.
Ensure You Are Compensated Regardless Of Your Liability Insurance
If you or someone you love has been involved in an accident, it is important to seek legal help as soon as possible.
The Fitzpatrick Firm has a team of experienced personal injury lawyers who can fight for the compensation you deserve.
We understand the physical, emotional, and financial toll that an accident can take on a family, and we will work tirelessly to get you the justice you deserve.
Contact us today for a free consultation, and let us help you get your life back on track.