If you are in a car accident that is not your fault, the other drivers car insurance should compensate you, right? If that other driver either doesn’t have insurance or doesn’t have enough insurance, that is where Uninsured (UM) and Under-insured (UIM) insurance coverage comes in to play. In the state of Montana, the legal minimum of liability insurance a person can obtain is 25,000 in coverage. That means that if you are the one injured by them, no matter how bad your injuries are, the insurance company will only pay you up to $25,000.
Statistics are that 1 in 4 vehicles on the road are uninsured. That means the other driver doesn’t have any insurance to pay you. If they don’t have insurance, chances are that they don’t have any personal money that you could go after either. So what do you do? This is where having adequate Uninsured and Under-insured motorist coverage is necessary.
Uninsured and Under-insured motorist coverage covers you and the people in your vehicle for a crash that is not your fault. Your coverage then steps in to cover you in case the other driver is not insured. Considering 1 in 4 cars is uninsured, chances are pretty good that you will need UM coverage. So how does this help you? Your insurance company will now adjust your bodily injury and property damage claims for you instead of the other driver’s (missing) insurance company. If you are badly hurt, you will need adequate coverage, and you never know how bad an accident is going to be nor how expensive your medical bills can be. I would suggest a minimum of $100,000 in UM and UIM coverage for anybody, more if you can afford it. Again, this covers YOU and the people you care about, its worth it. Thus, you would have at least $100,000 available to you, if you are in a bad accident with an uninsured driver.
Most insurance companies group UM and UIM coverage together in one category, but not all. You will need to speak to your agent to ensure you have both. So what is UIM?
Under-insured motorist coverage goes back to the other driver having minimal coverage. UIM coverage covers YOU and people in your car for damages that are greater than the policy limits of the other driver. For example, if you were involved in a serious accident and incur $30,000 in medical bills, but the other driver only has $25,000 in liability insurance, you are already owed $5,000 to begin with, before you are even compensated for pain and suffering. UIM will piggyback the other driver’s coverage and give you additional monies, similar to UM. The difference is that UIM will not pay out any money in until the policy limits ($25,000 in this case) of the other driver have been paid out to you. We call that “exhausted.” Since most companies group UM and UIM together, again it would be good to have at least $100,000 in UM/UIM coverage. If you company splits them into two different groups, make sure you have both of them.
This is relatively inexpensive insurance that ensures you are not left holding a huge medical bill balance in a crash that is not your fault. Most attorneys do not try to go after other drivers personally when they don’t have enough insurance, because there is rarely actual money or assets to obtain. So, this is the only way you can guarantee that if you are involved in a crash that is not your fault, that you can sleep at night knowing you will have adequate insurance coverage. If you have any questions or comments, please feel free to email me or call me to discuss your situation.
Marty is a former criminal prosecutor in the Cascade County Attorney’s Office and now uses that experience to defend those accused of crimes. A University of Montana School of Law graduate, Marty focuses his practice on personal injury and criminal defense and is a premier DUI defense attorney. He is also well versed in the insurance claims industry and has negotiated significant settlements with nearly every major insurance company.