Uninsured Motorist Claims
What Happens When the At-Fault Driver Has no Insurance?
As many as one in every eight drivers in California are driving without automobile insurance.
After the initial shock of the accident wears off, many people become angry about the harms caused by another driver’s carelessness. That anger often turns to frustration when you discover the at-fault driver does not have insurance. What are your options?
Thankfully California and many other states require car insurance companies to offer uninsured motorist coverage. Uninsured motorist coverage, or sometimes called “UM” is a type of coverage to cover you, your passengers and even your dependents or those the injured person cares for, in some situations. Under certain facts, uninsured motorist coverage may also provide coverage in hit-and-run type accidents.
When the at-fault driver or even the owner of the car driven by the at-fault driver does not have insurance, that is when having uninsured motorist coverage can be your first and best option. Think of it as if your insurance company “steps into the shoes of the uninsured driver or car owner.” You now look to your insurance to pay for the harms and losses caused by the at-fault driver or owner who was not responsible enough to follow the law and drive with car insurance.
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 uninsured motorist claim.
How Much Uninsured Motorist Coverage is Available to Your Claim?
California law requires drivers to have enough insurance to pay up to $15,000 to an individual person for bodily injury up to a minimum of $30,000 per accident for bodily injury. The minimum amount of coverage to damage to your personal property, like your car, rental car, car contents, etc. in California is $5,000. These are the same limits your policy has to offer in uninsured motorist coverage. This allows most drivers to drive knowing there are at least these minimum amounts of coverage available to them when hit by an uninsured driver or oftentimes in the case of hit-and-run accidents.
You can also buy higher limits or uninsured motorist coverage above the minimum amounts. Usually, the amount of your uninsured motorist coverage can be no higher than the amount of liability coverage, or coverage to pay for injuries and damages caused by you.
Will Turning In an Uninsured Motorist Claim Raise My Insurance Rates?
While it is nearly impossible to predict what an automobile insurance company may do if you submit an uninsured 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 uninsured driver, 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 uninsured 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.