Claims and Coverage
We often tell new clients that the most important advice we can give them, apart and separate from our prosecution of their claim, is to buy as much uninsured/under-insured motorist insurance coverage as they can afford. This is to protect themselves as fully as possible from losses from an automobile accident caused by another driver who has no insurance, or inadequate insurance. (California law requires drivers to only have $15,000 of liability insurance to pay other people they injure in an accident.)
Time after time we talk to people who have been seriously injured in a car accident who will not be fully compensated because the other driver had too little or no insurance, and the injured person did not have enough uninsured/under-insured motorist coverage.
A typical scenario is this: the other driver has a $15,000/$30,000 liability insurance (per person /per accident) and causes serious injury to our client justifying compensation of more than $200,000 for medical expenses, income loss and pain and suffering. The other driver’s insurance company pays the $15,000 per person limit, and now the injured person looks to his or her own insurance to pay the balance of the compensation under the under-insured motorist coverage of our client’s own insurance policy. We can recover adequate compensation only if our client has adequate under-insured motorist (UIM) coverage.
Often, our clients need to have $500,000 or more coverage; far too often they do not. Our personal experience is that the cost of acquiring the additional higher uninsured/under-insured motorist coverage is a small price to pay to be fully protected, and the additional premiums usually seem to be a bargain ($500,000 UIM coverage is only $112 per year at one major automobile carrier). At the very least, the issue should be discussed with your insurance agent so you know how much more it will cost, and can make an informed decision.