If you are involved in an accident caused by another driver who does not have car insurance, there is a type of personal injury protection designed to help you with your expenses. An injury claim can be covered by underinsured and uninsured motorist coverage. Both types of bodily injury coverage are typically part of your insurance policy.
Underinsured Motorist Bodily Injury Coverage
Underinsured motorist coverage is a type of insurance protection that covers your injuries if you are in a crash with someone who has limited insurance. For example, they have auto liability insurance, but the 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 your medical bills if you are injured in an car accident that an uninsured driver caused.
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 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 have health insurance and aren’t sure if you need uninsured motorist coverage, you need to talk with your health insurance provider to determine:
- If your health insurance policy will cover any injuries that were the result of an auto accident caused by an uninsured driver. Also, if your health insurance policy does cover medical expenses caused by an auto accident, are there any exclusions for certain medical treatments?
- If your auto insurance policy charges a deductible for your medical coverage, will your health insurance provider cover it?
- Which policy is the primary coverage if you have a car accident? Is it your automobile personal injury protection or your medical insurance? Typically, if you carry both types of policies, your auto liability coverage is the primary coverage and your 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 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 for the same treatments.
- Does your medical insurance policy provide coverage for passengers in your vehicle who are injured? It is highly unlikely that your health insurance policy covers for your passengers unless they are family members on the same policy.
Keep in mind that if you 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 declared 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 intend to file an uninsured motorist claim. Many car insurance providers have strict deadlines for filing potentially uninsured claims. The deadline varies from one insurance provider to another. 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 conduct 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 event that 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 after 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 the accident did not cause any problems with traffic. But when someone is in an accident with an uninsured driver, the police should be contacted immediately as 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 the accident occurred. All of this information will be critical for filing an uninsured motorist claim for a hit-and-run accident.