One term that many drivers may not immediately understand or appreciate is uninsured/underinsured motorist (UM) coverage on their insurance policy.
By law, every driver in Alabama needs to be covered by vehicle insurance. But not everyone is, and not everyone has adequate amounts of coverage (since you can choose what you want to pay for).
So, what happens if you get into an accident caused by a driver who isn’t insured?
That’s where UM coverage comes in.
UM Coverage Explained
UM coverage reimburses you, the policyholder, in the event of a motor vehicle accident caused by an uninsured or underinsured driver – or a hit-and-run driver.
What’s the difference between uninsured and underinsured? Uninsured coverage protects you if you’re in an accident, the accident was caused by the other driver, and the other driver doesn’t carry liability insurance.
Underinsured coverage covers you if the other driver was at fault and didn’t have enough insurance to cover all the damages. This is because their liability limits were too low, and their insurance will only pay up to that limit – even if your overall damages were more.
In both events, your UM coverage will kick in and cover the costs.
Why Is UM Coverage Important?
UM coverage is important because there are a lot of uninsured or underinsured drivers out on the road.
One study from 2014 estimated that one out of every eight drivers doesn’t carry insurance, even though it’s required by law. Alabama is pretty bad in this respect; we have the 7th-highest rate in the nation at roughly one out of every five drivers.
UM coverage costs only a few dollars on your policy and could potentially save you from a financial disaster. You can’t expect others to obey the law, and you have to protect yourself.
Can I Sue an Uninsured/Underinsured Driver?
You can – but keep in mind that people who forgo insurance or only buy the absolute minimums do so to save money, or because they can’t afford full coverage. So, it’s likely that you wouldn’t be able to recover much from them personally if you brought a suit against them and were awarded damages.
That’s not always the case, though, so it’s important to talk to a car accident lawyer to find out more about your case in a free consultation. That’s a crucial step in protecting yourself after an accident that wasn’t your fault.