Car accidents are unsettling, stressful incidents, even if no one has been seriously injured. That stress can be compounded when you find out later the driver who rear-ended you at a stoplight does not have auto insurance. It is not that uncommon, according to the Insurance Research Council, since roughly 13 percent of people are driving around without any car insurance – which works out to about one in eight drivers. More than 80 percent of these uninsured drivers say they can not afford insurance.
In Colorado, it is even worse. At more than 16 percent, the state ranks ninth nationally for the number of uninsured motorists on its roadways. If you have been in an auto accident caused by an uninsured motorist, a Colorado personal injury lawyer can help you recover.
Insurance Requirements Vary Widely
All but one state – New Hampshire – requires drivers to carry basic levels of auto insurance before they are able to register their vehicles. As part of that, some states also require drivers to carry Uninsured Motorist (UIM) coverage, as well.
In Colorado, for example, drivers are required to possess both bodily injury and property damage liability auto insurance. The minimum liability limits are 25/50/15 – $25,000 bodily injury limit for a single person, $50,000 bodily injury limit on the entire accident, and a $15,000 property damage limit. However, Colorado does not require drivers to carry Uninsured Motorist coverage.
With so many drivers on Colorado’s roads operating without adequate insurance coverage, it makes financial sense to add uninsured motorist coverage to your auto insurance policy. These UIM policies cover your harms and losses when the responsible party is unable to do so.
Uninsured Motorist Coverage Options
Uninsured motorist coverage can vary both by state and insurance carrier, but they all fall into three basic types of protection, according to the Insurance Information Institute:
- Uninsured Motorist Insurance – Often labeled as Uninsured Motorist Bodily Injury insurance, this coverage will pay for your bodily injury harms and losses and those of any passengers, if you are injured in an accident with an uninsured motorist who is at fault. UIM covers lost wages, medical bills, pain, suffering, loss enjoyment of life, inconvenience as well other harms and losses arising from a covered loss. Finally, UIM coverage takes effect if the policyholder is a pedestrian and is hit by an uninsured driver. These policies do not cover property damage but often include what are called replacement services if your injury prevents you from performing daily household chores.
- Uninsured Motorist Property Damage Coverage – In short, UMPD covers property damage to your vehicle. However, depending on the state and the insurance carrier, these policies might not include coverage for any other property damage. Expanding that coverage can be an additional option. Finally, hit-and-run accidents might not be covered.
- Underinsured Motorist Protection – This coverage is for when the at-fault driver does not have enough insurance to cover the entire loss. Then the at-fault driver is considered to be Underinsured. This insurance functions similarly to Uninsured Motorist Insurance.
If a car accident sends someone to the hospital, the average bill comes out to about $60,000. Most auto policies will not even cover half of that. Uninsured Motorist protection is a relatively inexpensive add-on to any auto policy and more than pays for itself the first time you have to actually use it.
Finally, there is a process called “stacking” that some states allow in uninsured motorist accidents. For example, if you have been hurt while you were behind the wheel of your car, and you have multiple vehicles on the same policy, you might be able to collect up to the insured limit multiplied by the number of cars that are insured.
Insurance can be complicated. Do not rely solely on the insurance company. Knowledge is power. If you or someone you love has been injured, you should talk to a Burg Simpson Denver injury lawyer as soon as possible. We will help to protect your rights and make sure the insurance companies are paying you what you deserve. Call us today at 303-792-5595 or fill out our Free Case Evaluation form now.