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What’s an Underinsured Motorist, and How Can I Protect Myself?

Written by Tom Crosley
Aug 22, 2018 Car Accidents, Vehicle Wrecks
  1. 1. Many San Antonio Drivers Are Uninsured or Underinsured
  2. 2. Reasons Why You Should Always Purchase UM/UIM Coverage
  3. 3. Don’t Assume Your Insurance Company Will Pay Your Underinsured Motorist Claim
  4. 4. You Can Fight a UIM Denial With Help From an Attorney
  5. 5. Crosley Law: Advocates for Car Accident Victims in San Antonio

The last thing you want to hear after a car accident is that the negligent driver doesn’t have auto insurance. But what if the other driver does have insurance, only it’s not nearly enough to cover the damages they caused?

In this article, we’ll explain how another driver’s policy limits can impact your personal injury claim and give you some tips you can use to protect yourself from both uninsured and underinsured drivers.

Many San Antonio Drivers Are Uninsured or Underinsured

According to the Texas Department of Motor Vehicles, 20% of our state’s drivers are uninsured, and an even higher percentage don’t carry adequate insurance to cover the damages associated with a serious wreck.

RELATED ARTICLE: What to Do if You’re Hit by an Uninsured Driver

In San Antonio, your liability insurance policy covers any injuries and damages you cause through negligent or reckless driving. The state sets minimum liability insurance policy limits, and every driver is required to purchase auto insurance coverage that satisfies those minimum limits before they can take to the road. Texas’ state minimums include:

  • Coverage of $30,000 per person and $60,000 per accident for bodily injury claims
  • $25,000 of coverage for property damage claims

Because Texas uses a fault-based system for auto insurance coverage, you’ll need to file a claim with the negligent driver’s insurance company after a wreck rather than your own. If the other driver lacks sufficient insurance coverage to pay for your injuries, you’ll end up paying for the remaining costs yourself — that is, unless you have supplemental insurance coverage that can help, such as uninsured/underinsured motorist (UM/UIM) coverage.

RELATED ARTICLE: Hit by an Out-of-State Driver? Here’s How Auto Insurance Limits Work

Even drivers with higher policy limits may realize they are underinsured after a serious collision. It’s not hard to max out a policy with limits of $100,000 or more when a crash involves:

  • Catastrophic injuries, such as traumatic brain injuries (TBIs) or spinal cord injuries
  • A child or young person who will face a lifetime of medical treatment or reduced earnings capacity
  • A multi-vehicle crash
  • Injuries to numerous people

If you get into a crash that involves any of these scenarios and you don’t have UM/UIM insurance, it’s very likely that you’ll find yourself paying some or all of the resulting medical bills and losing out on compensation for your lost wages and other damages.

Reasons Why You Should Always Purchase UM/UIM Coverage

Under Texas law, your auto insurance company should offer you UM/UIM coverage, but you can decline it. However, it’s always in your best interest to purchase as much UM/UIM coverage as you can reasonably afford. Here are three compelling reasons why you should always carry additional UM/UIM coverage on your auto insurance policy:

  • It’s relatively affordable. While your premiums will depend on your driving record, the type of car you’re insuring, and other factors, UM/UIM coverage shouldn’t raise the annual cost of your insurance premiums by more than a few percentage points. And that annual cost will certainly be much less than the cost of paying medical bills out of pocket after a car wreck.
  • While your health insurance may pay for some of your medical bills, it won’t cover all the expenses after a wreck. You’ll still have to pay your health plan’s deductible, co-pays, and other expenses. And your health insurance will never cover lost income, pain and suffering, and other losses beyond your medical bills.
  • It’s risky relying on other people’s insurance coverage. When you purchase UM/UIM coverage, you’re protecting yourself against drivers who fail to purchase adequate insurance — and as we’ve already established, that’s about half of them! In addition to UM/UIM coverage, you should also consider purchasing a personal injury protection (PIP) policy. This type of policy can help cover your medical bills and lost wages after a crash regardless of who was at fault.

“If the insurance company denies your claim, you can file a lawsuit demanding compensation. “

Don’t Assume Your Insurance Company Will Pay Your Underinsured Motorist Claim

If you had UM/UIM coverage at the time of a crash and the other driver’s policy limits won’t cover all the damages, you can file a claim with your insurance company. To get compensation, you must show that:

  • Someone else’s negligence in the operation of a motor vehicle caused your crash
  • You suffered injuries due to the negligent behavior
  • The driver has insufficient insurance to cover your damages, including medical expenses and lost income

Unfortunately, you can’t always count on your insurance company to step up and take care of you after a crash, even if you’ve purchased additional UM/UIM coverage, always paid your premiums on time, and generally behaved like an ideal customer.

Instead, your insurance company will look for possible defenses they can use to deny your claim or reduce its value. They may dispute the necessity of your medical care or blame you for the crash. At this point, you might feel like your own insurance company isn’t even on your side, and you’re not wrong.

Since you can only count on the insurance company and its employees to look out for their own interests, you should always consult an experienced personal injury lawyer after a car crash. At Crosley Law, our clients are our top priority, and we carefully investigate their claims so we can help them obtain fair compensation for their injuries. Our detail-oriented and aggressive approach to car crash claims has won us the respect of our peers and the insurance companies alike.

You Can Fight a UIM Denial With Help From an Attorney

If the insurance company denies your claim, you can file a lawsuit demanding compensation. While Texas typically applies a two-year statute of limitations for claims against a negligent driver, UM/UIM claims have a longer statute of limitations. Generally speaking, you must file your UM/UIM lawsuit within four years of the insurance company’s denial.

RELATED SUCCESS STORY: Hit by an Underinsured Motorist, Tiffiny H. Turned to Crosley Law

However, you should never wait until the last minute to file your claim. As time passes, you risk losing evidence, and you might find it hard to find a skilled attorney that will take your claim. When you contact Crosley Law after a crash, we’ll immediately launch an investigation and begin identifying witnesses, compiling your evidence, and calculating your damages to give your claim the best chance of success.

Crosley Law: Advocates for Car Accident Victims in San Antonio

If you or a loved one suffered injuries due to an underinsured motorist’s negligence, contact Crosley Law today. We have built a reputation for using aggressive and cutting-edge legal strategies to fight on behalf of our clients. To schedule your free initial consultation with an experienced attorney from the Crosley Law team, fill out our online contact form or call us at 210-LAW-3000 | 210-529-3000.

The content provided here is for informational purposes only and should not be construed as legal advice on any subject.

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