If you are involved in an accident caused by another driver that does not have car insurance, there is a type of personal injury protection designed to help you with your expenses. There are two types of protection available for an injury claim: underinsured and uninsured. Both of underinsured and uninsured motorist bodily injury coverage is typically a part of your insurance policy.
Underinsured Motorist Bodily Injury Coverage
An underinsured motorist is a type of insurance protection that covers your injuries if you are in a crash with someone who has limited coverage. For example, they have auto liability insurance, but coverage amount is limited and may not be enough to cover your medical bills. Or, the liability limits they have are less than or equal to the underinsured motorist coverage limit provided by your policy.
Uninsured Motorist Coverage
Uninsured motorist coverage pays the cost of your medical bills if you are injured in an accident. If you get injured in a car accident that was caused by an uninsured driver and you yourself do not have uninsured motorist coverage or medical insurance you would be responsible for your own hospital bills.
In some states, it is a requirement that all drivers buy uninsured motorist coverage. However, in other states, it isn’t available. In the states where the bodily injury liability coverage is available, the policies and coverage limit may vary on both underinsured and uninsured coverage.
Health Insurance and/or Uninsured Motorist Coverage
If you already have health and aren’t sure if you need uninsured motorist coverage, you will need to talk with your health insurance provider to determine:
- If your health insurance policy will cover your any injuries that were the result of an auto accident that was caused by an uninsured driver. Also, if the policy does cover medical expenses, are there any exclusions for certain medical treatments?
- If your auto insurance policy includes a deductible with the medical coverage, will your health insurance cover it?
- Which is the primary coverage when you get into an accident? Is it the auto personal injury protection or your medical insurance? Typically, if you carry both types of policies, your auto liability coverage is the primary and the medical insurance policy is the secondary coverage, but this varies from state-to-state.
- Will your medical insurance provider ask for reimbursement for the medical bills they covered? If both providers pay out for medical expense claims that were caused by an uninsured driver in an auto accident, it is possible that they may ask for reimbursement. This is especially the case if both insurers paid out for the same treatments.
- Does your medical insurance policy provide coverage for passengers in your vehicle that were injured? It is highly unlikely that your personal insurance policy will provide coverage for your passengers unless they are family members on the same policy.
Keep in mind that if want to file a bodily injury liability claim for pain and suffering and/or lost wages resulting from being hit by an uninsured motorist, you will need to carry uninsured motorist coverage because your primary insurance policy will not offer these types of benefits.
What Exactly Does Uninsured Motorist Bodily Injury Cover?
Uninsured motorist bodily injury liability coverage will typically pay for the expenses of your injuries up to the amount in your policy limits. Your uninsured motorist coverage will typically pay:
- Medical expenses
- Lost wages
- Loss of future earning capacity
- Pain and suffering and/or emotional distress
- Funeral expenses
How Does an Uninsured Motorist Claim Work?
Contact your insurance provider as soon as possible if you believe the accident was caused by an uninsured driver. You must let them know immediately that you are intending on filing an uninsured claim. Many car insurance providers have strict deadlines placed on their uninsured policies when it comes to filing potentially uninsured claims. The deadline varies from one insurance provider to another. But, in some policies, the deadline could be as short as 30 days after the accident. In some situations, you may not know right away whether you will have an underinsured or an uninsured claim. In this situation, you should contact a personal injury attorney as soon as possible to assist you with proceeding with your claim.
- Once your claim has been submitted to your insurance provider, they will do an investigation. An investigation for injury claims generally includes reviewing your medical records and depositions of witnesses. It is extremely important to understand that if you and your insurer cannot agree on a settlement amount, you typically will not have an opportunity to file a lawsuit against your insurer.
- In the case you do not agree on the settlement amount, you will have to submit a claim to binding arbitration. Binding arbitration is basically more of an informal procedure than an actual court trial. The arbitration hearing will be held in front of one or more arbitrators and they will decide who wins.
Handling Your Own Claim
If you were injured in an accident and the driver is uninsured, you can file your own claim against your auto insurance company. It is extremely important to keep in mind that you will have to prove to the insurance company that the uninsured driver was at fault. In order to handle your own claim, you must be confident in your abilities to gather the evidence, draft a notification letter (to the insurance provider) and write a demand letter (to the insurance provider).
Seeking the Help of a Personal Injury Attorney
If you are unable to follow through with any of the requirements to handle your own claim, you may not be reimbursed or may not receive total reimbursement for your injuries. If you need help filing an uninsured motorist claim you should seek the help of a personal injury attorney as soon as possible following the accident. If you have suffered serious or permanent injuries, most personal injury attorneys will not charge you any initial fees for an office visit. If you do indeed have a right to make a claim, they will often work on a contingency fee.
If you are involved in an auto accident you should call the police immediately. If you or someone else is injured, request an ambulance. In many situations, the police may not come to the scene if no one has been injured and there isn’t a delay in traffic. But when in an accident with an uninsured driver the police should be contacted immediately. It is a crime to drive without insurance. If you are in a hit-and-run accident, try to gather as much information as possible.
Information should include the location of the accident, what kind of car the driver used to hit you and witness information. If possible take photos of your vehicle and the area where you were hit. All of this information will be critical for filing an uninsured motorist claim for a hit-and-run accident.