Drivers: Don’t Leave Home Without UIM

In order to fully protect yourself and your family on the road, purchase UIM auto insurance coverage.

There are 4.4 million drivers in Washington State. Nearly one-fifth, or approximately 750,000 of those drivers are uninsured, which means Washington has the 5th highest percentage of uninsured drivers in the U.S. If you are involved in a vehicle collision with one of those uninsured drivers, it will be critical for you to have uninsured/underinsured motorist (UIM) coverage on your vehicle.

In addition, the minimum limit of liability insurance required in Washington State is only $25,000. If you are involved in a motor vehicle collision with another driver who has minimum limits, it may well be critical that you have UIM coverage on your vehicle.

UIM coverage on your automobile insurance policy protects you if you are involved in a collision with an uninsured driver or a driver who has insufficient liability coverage under their policy to fully compensate you. UIM coverage protects not only damage to your vehicle caused by an uninsured or underinsured motorist, but also covers any injuries you might suffer.

UIM property damage coverage will pay for the damage caused to your vehicle by an uninsured motorist. In Washington State, the mandatory deductible under UIM coverage is $100. So, for example, if you are hit by an uninsured motorist and it costs $8,000 to repair your vehicle, your UIM coverage will pay $7,900 for the repair of your vehicle.

If you are injured in a collision with an uninsured driver, your UIM coverage will pay you the same damages that the other driver would legally be required to pay you. This includes money damages for medical expenses, wage loss, pain and suffering, disability, scarring, and loss of ability to enjoy life. If you are injured in a collision with a driver who has only minimal limits of $25,000, your UIM coverage will pay you any damages you have that are in excess of the other driver’s $25,000 limits.  It provides an extra level of protection.

Obviously, with 750,000 uninsured drivers in Washington State, and many more who have only minimal $25,000 limits, it is critical that you obtain UIM coverage on your auto policy. The Washington State Legislature has recognized the importance of this by requiring auto insurers to automatically place underinsured coverage on your auto policy unless you sign a written waiver. In fact, insurers are required to place the same amount of underinsured motorist coverage on your policy as you have in liability coverage. So, for example, if you have $100,000 liability coverage, you automatically have $100,000 of UIM coverage on your policy unless you sign a written waiver. 

At Abeyta Nelson, we always advise our clients to obtain the same amount of coverage for underinsured motorist as they do for liability. Buy as high a limit as you can afford, at least $100,000 per person/$300,000 per accident.  If you can afford more, buy it.  We strongly recommend against signing a waiver rejecting underinsured motorist coverage just to save a few bucks.

If you are involved in a collision with an uninsured driver, you should make sure that police are called to the scene and a police report is filed. It is also critical that you immediately contact your insurance company and let them know that you’ve been involved in a collision with an uninsured driver.

Typically, claims for vehicle damage under an uninsured motorist policy can be handled directly by you with your insurance carrier. Just make certain that you are charged only the $100 underinsured motorist deductible and not the larger deductible under your collision coverage.

Your claim for damages for injuries from an uninsured driver is another matter. You should consult an experienced personal injury lawyer before attempting to settle an uninsured motorist claim for personal injury with your carrier. Even though you are dealing directly with your insurance company, it is critical that you consult with an attorney before settling any uninsured motorist claim. Your own insurance company is likely to grossly undervalue your claim for personal injuries. You should consult with an attorney to make certain that you receive adequate compensation.  In this situation, your insurance company’s interests are at odds with yours.  They want to pay you as little as possible.  At Abeyta Nelson Injury Law, it’s our job to get you what you’re entitled to under the law.  Call us today for a free consultation.

-written by attorney Rodney K. Nelson, Abeyta Nelson Injury Law

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