Many Houston motorists opt out of underinsured and uninsured motorist coverage to save money on their auto insurance bills, but this is rarely a good idea. You may save a few dollars each month, but you lose coverage that could be your only option for compensation after a car accident. Uninsured and underinsured motorist policies pay out to cover your car crash losses in certain situations where the at-fault party cannot cover your damages.
What is the difference between uninsured and underinsured motorist coverage?
Uninsured motorist (UM) coverage pays out to cover your medical bills and other damages when the driver who caused your accident does not have liability coverage. Even though liability auto insurance is mandatory in Texas, this still happens more frequently than you might imagine. Your UM policy also covers you in the event of a hit and run accident when police cannot locate the other driver.
Underinsured motorist (UIM) coverage kicks in when another driver causes an accident, but your damages exceed the limits of his liability policy. This can be a major help if you suffer severe injuries as your medical bills and lost wages will quickly add up.
What auto insurance coverage does Texas law require?
Texas law requires all motorists to carry liability insurance that provides at least:
- $30,000 per person to cover personal injuries
- $60,000 per accident to pay for personal injuries
- $25,000 to pay for property damage
Also, all Texas auto insurance companies must offer UM/UIM coverage to all policy holders. However, many do not want to pay the extra cost for this optional coverage. To opt out, you must notify the insurance company in writing. Most have specific forms for this purpose.
The amount of this policy is usually equal to the liability policy you chose. This means you should have at least 30/60/25 coverage if you need to rely on your UM/UIM policy for your injuries or property damage.
What does my uninsured motorist policy cover?
If an uninsured or unidentified motorist caused your accident and injuries, you can file a claim to collect compensation for your medical bills, lost wages, and other losses. This also applies to others riding in your car at the time of the accident.
In addition, most uninsured motorist policies also pay for repairs or replacement of your vehicle, and any other items damaged in the crash. There is often a deductible associated with this coverage.
It is important to note that an uninsured motorist policy is the best way to protect your financial future after a Houston hit and run or a car accident caused by a driver without insurance. If you do not have this type of coverage, you may be unable to collect any compensation to help pay your medical bills or other losses.
How does underinsured motorist coverage work to my advantage?
In a serious crash, medical bills and other expenses can add up quickly. In some cases, they can exceed the typical $30,000 per person liability minimum for bodily injuries in only a few days. When this occurs, your underinsured motorist policy should kick in and cover at least the next $30,000 in damages and accident-related losses, depending on the size of your policy.
Once you file a UM/UIM claim, your insurer may award your benefits once it has determined your account of the accident is accurate. It might then file a claim or take other legal action to recover the money from the at-fault driver, in an action called subrogation. This takes the stress off you and lets the insurer’s legal team handle the issue.
Can I file a lawsuit to recover my damages after a car accident?
If you suffered injuries in a car crash with an uninsured driver but do not have coverage, you have the legal option of filing a lawsuit to attempt to collect compensation for your damages.
However, we rarely see this work out. Most people who do not carry insurance do not have the assets available to pay for your care, even if the courts award you the money. It is a far better option for most people to carry uninsured motorist coverage, just in case.
Do I need a lawyer to help me file a claim based on my uninsured/underinsured policy?
Even when working with your own insurance company, you want to make sure there is someone on your side to ensure your rights remain protected. You may believe the adjusters who work for your insurer company also work for you, but they also have an obligation to pay attention to their company’s bottom line.
It is a good idea to call us before you file any insurance claim after a car accident, and let us manage the process for you. We can determine your legal options, value your claim, and fight for the full amount of compensation you deserve.
Call 713-863-1515 today to talk to a Houston car accident attorney at the Law Offices of Hilda L. Sibrian, P.C.