Underinsured Motorist Claims
What is an underinsured motorist claim?
Oftentimes, clients ask me, “What is an underinsured motorist claim?” Well, an underinsured motorist claim is just that. The party who was careless and caused the collision did not have enough insurance to adequately compensate the injured parties for their harms and losses. What does that mean? In typical laymen’s speak, the person who hit you had a minimum limits of $15,000 per person, $30,000 per accident in California. Oftentimes the harms and losses you suffer, such as pain, suffering, bodily injury, wage loss exceed that $15,000 per person limit, or even a higher limit if that is a very serious case. An underinsured motorist claim is coverage that affects you and is purchased through your own policy to protect you from underinsured motorists. It really causes the other party to step into the shoes of the other driver’s insurance company that hit you, and then you have to make a claim against your own insurance to show all the harms and losses which you suffered.
What Happens When the At-Fault Driver Does Not Have Enough Insurance ?
In some accidents, there is not enough coverage to pay your ambulance, emergency room, and emergency doctor bills must less any follow up treatment for your injuries. The average emergency room visit is $0000, and each day in the hospital or rehabilitation facility can run $00000 or more.
California and many other states allow drivers to buy higher limits of coverage to cover them in cases where their injuries and damage are more than the at-fault driver’s insurance limits. This type of coverage is called underinsured motorist coverage or sometimes just “UIM”. It is insurance to cover you, your passengers and even your dependents or those the injured person cares for, in situations where the at-fault driver or car owner does not have enough insurance to cover the bodily injury and property damages claims. Like uninsured motorist coverage, where the at-fault driver or owner does not have any coverage, drivers can also buy underinsured motorist coverage that also provides coverage in hit-and-run type accidents.
In most cases where the at-fault driver is 100 percent at fault, your insurance company will not count the claim against you. California uses a sliding-scale to determine the percentage of fault to spread fault among all the at-fault parties. If you are partly at fault, even if it is a modest amount, payment of your claim may be reduced by that amount of fault by your insurance company in an underinsured motorist claim.
How Much Underinsured Motorist Coverage is Available to Your Claim?
The amount of underinsured motorist coverage may depend on facts of your accident, but generally, it is determined by taking the amount of your underinsured coverage minus the policy limits paid by the at-fault diver. For example, if you have $100,000 per person bodily injury underinsured coverage, and the at-fault drive has $15,000 per person bodily injury coverage, that would leave $85,000 in available per person coverage for your claim. This does not mean your claim is or is not worth the remaining amount, rather it lets you know how much insurance is available to cover your claim. Underinsured motorist coverage may not apply in situations where the at-fault driver and the injured party have the same limits.
Will Turning in an Underinsured Motorist Claim Raise My Insurance Rates?
While it is nearly impossible to predict what an automobile insurance company may do if you submit an underinsured motorist claim, it stands to reason that your rates should not increase if the accident was not your fault. Since your insurance company steps into the shoes of the underinsured driver after her limits have been paid, the accident should be treated as if you did nothing to cause the claim for insurance rate purposes. If your insurance company does raise your rates because of an underinsured motorist accident that was in no way your fault, you may wish to consider “voting with your pocketbook” and comparing rates for the same coverage with other insurance companies.