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How to protect yourself against uninsured and underinsured motorists

Posted by David Nemeroff | Sep 15, 2011 | 0 Comments

Just yesterday a fatal car accident claimed the life of a Chicago woman. One of the three drivers had no proof of insurance. Chicago motorists need to know how to protect themselves against these uninsured and underinsured motorists.

This past weekend I was driving down a local Chicago street. I was stopped at a traffic light waiting to turn left. When I glanced in my rear view mirror, I saw an automobile approaching the intersection at high rate of speed. At that moment, I knew an accident was about to happen. Next thing, my wife and I heard a loud crash. The car, rear ended into the car next to us. What happened next amazing. Viewing all of this in my rear view mirror. The car that rear ended the driver next to us was backing up. I knew what he was doing, he was leaving the scene of the accident. My first thought, he probably has no insurance?

Chicago motorists need to know how to protect themselves against these underinsured and uninsured motorists that travel on our roads every day. The average consumer of auto insurance does not understand the differences and nuances of underinsured and uninsured automobile coverage. Many consumers think of uninsured and underinsured motorist coverage as being the same. They are two different types of coverage. Let's say you are in an accident. Your car is car A. Another car, let's call it car B, serves out of their lane of travel and into your lane. The driver hits your car. Naturally, you assume, the other driver's at fault? That is true. The next question then is, is the other driver responsible for the damage to your car? In a typical car crash case, the answer is yes. The other drivers insurance would cover your damage. Now, you find out that car B, doesn't have insurance. Or they do not carry adequate or enough insurance (substandard insurance) to cover the damage. This is what can happen:

  • The driver that crashes into you has no insurance coverage or is an uninsured driver, your uninsured car accident coverage under most circumstances will pay for the damage. It may also pay for injuries resulting from an accident.
  • The driver that crashes into your car does have insurance. Unfortunately, the coverage limits on their auto insurance policy is not sufficient to cover the damage to your car or to cover injuries from the accident. Your own underinsured automobile coverage can be utilized.

Just as the name sounds uninsured and underinsured motorist coverage is insurance coverage that pays for bodily injury or injuries sustained from an auto accident. These components of coverage also contain a property damage component. Bodily injury coverage pays the medical expenses. You will be covered as will any passengers who might be traveling in your car. Property damage coverage pays for damages to your car or property.

In my experience as a Chicago automobile accident and Injury lawyer, uninsured motorists are the main reason it is important for motorists to have uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage on your auto insurance policy. Think of it as your safety net. Automobile drivers are mandated by law to carry liability insurance, unfortunately it may not adequately cover you. It will cover the person you hit or injured.

The uninsured and underinsured motorist coverage portion of your policy is the part of the insurance that compensates you for your injuries, damages and losses. It can be used if you are involved in a hit-and-run accident. Or when the motorist at fault is uninsured or underinsured. The insurance company may try to delay payment on your claim in many cases, even though you have uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage. Many times the insurance company will offer you only a percentage of the actual value of your claim. This is why it is important for consumers to know the difference between the uninsured and underinsured components of automobile insurance. Spend some time and call your insurance agent for an explanation.

Source: Three-Car Crash Claims One Life, Journal Online, September 14, 2011

About the Author

David Nemeroff

In January 2012, David Nemeroff was voted one of the Top 100 Lawyers in the entire state of Illinois (out of 83,000 lawyers) by Super Lawyers Magazine...

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