Based on the many true-to-life stories this author has heard over the years, obtaining Uninsured Motorist (UM) coverage is an essential part of that peace-of-mind value that an insurance coverage provides. Consider the following scenarios:
John was rear-ended in the freeway and suffered serious injuries. His medical bills were more than 100,000 and he was not able to work for 6 months. The claim he filed with the insurance company of the driver who hit him was denied because the other driver's policy had expired. Since John's policy did not include Uninsured Motorist (UM) coverage, he was unable to obtain compensation for his permanent injuries.
Lee suffered chronic spine injuries when a stolen car ran a red light and hit his car. The insurance company of the stolen car naturally denied coverage because the car thief was not an authorized driver. Lee did not have UM coverage and so ended up paying for his hospital bills out of his own pocket.
Jane was crossing the street after parking her car when she was hit by a car which immediately left the scene and was never identified afterwards. Even if she was not driving her car at the time of the accident, Jane could still have recovered benefits under her own auto policy. However, Jane did not have UM coverage so her permanent disfigurement, pain and suffering remained uncompensated.
It is undisputed that each one of the above drivers carried the required liability car insurance. However, thinking that Uninsured Motorist (UM) coverage is just wasted premium, they did not obtain it.
UM coverage pays for damages to you and your family if the other driver responsible for the accident is uninsured. UM coverage will pay not only for medical bills and loss of earnings but also for the damages for pain and suffering that could have been recovered from the errant driver's insurance. UM coverage also protects you if the other driver does not have adequate limits in his/her policy. Most drivers only carry the minimum $15,000 coverage. This amount is often not enough if there are serious injuries involved. It is, therefore, wiser to have coverage which exceeds the minimum amount.
It is very alarming to note that the already high rate of uninsured drivers in California continues to increase due to these difficult economic times. Despite the law requiring liability insurance, more and more drivers are choosing not to obtain car insurance in order to save the money that they would otherwise pay for premiums. As California sinks further into recession, the uninsured motorist rate is expected to climb higher. It was projected that one in six California drivers driving on California's streets and highways will have no insurance coverage.
People tend to think of a serious accident as something that happens to other people. But accidents happen all the time – both to the reckless and the cautious. And even though it seems unfair that responsible drivers will have to pay the damages that an uninsured motorist has caused, the responsible drivers will thank themselves down the road for their foresight in purchasing UM coverage.
After all, the benefits of UM coverage go to you and your family, and not to the uninsured motorist.