Sluggish housing sales, stubborn unemployment and Washington’s crippling political dysfunction have contributed to a financial climate in which many Americans are driving illegally without car insurance simply because they can’t afford to.
It’s estimated that one out of every seven Americans driving today and doing so without insurance coverage, according to recent data from Insurance Research Council. And with almost 16,000 traffic accidents happening daily across the country one way to stay protected is through uninsured motorist car insurance coverage.
Uninsured motorist coverage is typically optional coverage that takes care of an insured driver when they have a car wreck with an uninsured motorist and it covers the driver and passengers. Uninsured motorist coverage also provides coverage for the main policy holder and household members as pedestrians. Accidents with hit-and-run motorist are also covered. Typically, UMC pays for an injured driver’s hospital bills, general damages and lost wages. Uninsured motorist coverage also covers other out-of-pocket bills, such as childcare, while a driver recovers from their injuries. And if a driver without uninsured motorist coverage has a car wreck with a uninsured motorist, they may not be covered for the damages.
Uninsured motorist coverage breaks down into two parts. The first part of uninsured motorist coverage pays out for bodily injury for the covered driver and passengers, while the second part of uninsured motorist coverage takes care of any property damage.
Unlike liability coverage which is pretty much mandatory across the Nation, uninsured motorist coverage is optional in most states with the exception of financed or leased vehicles which usually require a driver to purchase uninsured motorist coverage as part of a financing agreement.
A commonly asked question regarding uninsured motorist coverage is if it is the same as underinsured motorist coverage. The answer is no. The first deals exclusively with the situation regarding a car wreck with an insurance-less motorist or an unidentified hit-and-run driver, while the second covers the difference when the other motorist’s coverage won’t pay for the damage to the covered driver’s vehicle or other expenses such as hospital bills. Depending on the insurer these coverage may be sold as one or separate.
Another common question is how much coverage does a driver need. That depends on several factors like the type of health insurance a driver carries, asset worth and amount of risk willing to take. However since the maximum amount cannot typically exceed the limits of liability coverage most drivers simply match the coverage amounts. Also, in some states collision insurance covers drivers for property damage in accidents with uninsured drivers.
In the unfortunate event an accident does occur drivers should take the following steps:
- Think safety first. If the wreck is minor and no injuries, drivers should look at moving their vehicles to the shoulder. If the vehicle cannot be moved, drivers should deploy signal cones or flares to warn oncoming traffic. They should stay away from the wreck if in a high traffic area.
- If there are major injuries, drivers should call emergency personnel ASAP. Moving the vehicles after a major accident is unwise since law enforcement will have to investigate.
- Call law enforcement and report the accident.
- Get as much information about the other motorist, passengers and witnesses as possible. This includes pertinent contact information such as name, address and phone number and the other driver’s license number, vehicle registration, plate number, etc.
- Take lots of pictures, if possible.
- If the uninsured driver has an expired insurance identification, write down the policy number to verify lack of coverage.