The Coast News Group

Uninsured drivers can mean big problems

Buy as much uninsured automobile insurance coverage as you can get. It’s cheap. It can be a life saver. Don’t assume you have enough uninsured motorist coverage (UM coverage) simply because your company or agent told you that you have “full coverage.” Go grab your declaration page or your last auto insurance bill and take a look. You may be surprised.
UM coverage works in two ways. First, it acts as primary insurance if the other driver has no insurance whatsoever. Second, it provides additional coverage if the other driver only has a small liability policy; it kicks in after that amount has been used up.
Years ago, I had a tragic case come to my offices. Three young people were driving home from a party when a drunk driver with no insurance crossed into their lane and hit them head-on. Their injuries were horrible. Broken bones. Collapsed lungs. Large lacerations and scarring. They all survived but had to spend months in the hospital. As you can imagine, the medical bills went through the roof. They had health insurance but they were still saddled with huge bills. They couldn’t work. They couldn’t pay their bills and rent.
Because the drunk driver had no insurance, the UM coverage became the only source of money available to them. It kicks in when the driver who causes the collision has no or only a little bit of insurance. They each only had UM coverage in the state of California minimum amount of $15,000 each, which was used up quickly. We sued the drunk driver and got a million dollar award, but he went to prison and has no money; we haven’t collected a penny from him and probably never will.
I generally fight against insurance companies every day in my job. That doesn’t mean that I don’t believe having the right type of insurance isn’t important. It is. Extremely. It can mean a lot if you are unfortunate, as my three young clients that fateful evening. Go check your insurance policy and make sure you have at least $100,000 of UM coverage at a minimum. Hopefully, you’ll never need it. But you never know …