When a driver refuses or is unable to carry proper motor vehicle insurance, that driver puts more than just him- or herself at risk. If the driver injures another person, the insurance will be inadequate to cover the damages. Injured parties, however, may be covered by their own insurance policies; uninsured and underinsured motorist coverage protects accident victims in these cases. If you have been involved in an accident with an uninsured or underinsured driver, contact Ryan, Roach & Ryan, LLP in Kingston, NY, schedule a consultation with a personal injury attorney to create a plan of action.
Even if your state requires all drivers to carry auto insurance, the driver who injured you or your passenger may not have had insurance. Or you may have been hurt in a hit-and-run accident, making it impossible to identify the driver at all.
This is when uninsured motorist coverage will step in to protect your interests. Many states require auto insurance companies to offer uninsured motorist coverage. If your insurance company offers uninsured motorist coverage, and you chose to include it in your policy, then your insurance company will act as if it were the at-fault driver's insurance company in compensating you.
When you file an uninsured motorist claim, your insurance company's interests can be adverse to your interests. Consulting with an attorney before filing a claim is wise.
When the at-fault driver is underinsured, this means that the driver has purchased an auto insurance policy that does not provide enough coverage to compensate you for your damages. If you have underinsured motorist coverage as part of your insurance policy, you may be able to collect, from your own insurance company, the amount of your damages that exceeds the at-fault driver's insurance coverage. The premium cost for underinsurance is not as costly as the primary coverage, and the amount of underinsurance protection should be at least the same amount that you have in your primary policy. For example, if you have a $100,000 policy protecting others from your negligence, you should at least have $100,000 in underinsurance coverage to protect yourself.
Collecting insurance benefits under an uninsured or underinsured motorist policy
To recover benefits under an uninsured or underinsured motorist policy, the injured party typically will need to show that the other motorist was at fault. The injured party will also need to prove that his or her bodily injuries were significant. To collect benefits under an underinsured motorist policy, the injured party must have received the entire amount of insurance coverage available from the at-fault driver's insurance company before the injured party can make a claim against his or her own insurance company under the underinsurance coverage provision.
Stacking insurance coverage
In some states and under some insurance policies, an injured party may “stack” various policies to reach a satisfactory level of compensation. By stacking coverage from more than one auto insurance policy — or coverage for more than one car on a single policy — the injured party increases monetary recovery. Stackable coverage is not allowed in every state; in some cases, the insured must choose to have stackable coverage upon purchasing the policy.
Contact a personal injury attorney
Uninsured and underinsured motorist coverage protects accident victims when they are most vulnerable. Not every policy has such coverage, however, and the victim's approach to the situation can change the level of compensation he or she receives. Indeed, some rules do not require the victim's insurance company to pay the victim if the victim settles prematurely with the at-fault motorist's insurance company. This is why it is so important to work with an experienced personal injury lawyer from Ryan, Roach & Ryan, LLP in Kingston, NY.