If an uninsured driver caused your car accident, your uninsured motorist (UM) coverage is there to protect you, if you have it. Sadly, car insurance companies are not required to sell you UM coverage; in Arizona, they are only required to “offer” it to you. Most of the time the insurance companies do not explain the importance of UM coverage. This is especially true in a state where there are a high number of uninsured drivers, and the only thing people consider when buying insurance is cost.
If your insurance policy does not include UM coverage, your ability to obtain a financial recovery is not good.
Uninsured Driver Insurance Coverage Limitations
Having UM coverage does not ensure full compensation for your losses from the crash. If you have UM coverage, it will pay up to the limits of coverage you purchased. There are limits to UM coverage. For instance, most UM policies only cover injuries to:
- you while in the car named in your policy,
- you while in any car you do not own,
- you if you were a pedestrian,
- a relative who lives with you and is injured while in the car named in your policy,
- anyone else in your insured car with your permission,
- anyone riding in a car you are driving but do not own.
You should know that, if you or a relative are injured by an uninsured motorist while in another person’s car, the other car’s UM coverage is primary coverage and your UM coverage is secondary. Thus, your policy will only pay UM benefits if the primary policy pays out its limits first.
UM coverage limits also arise when an unidentifiable vehicle causes a crash. Proving the other car hit you car, for instance, when you are the victim of a hit-and-run. This is usually through vehicle damage and corroboration from a police report. Another example is when an unknown vehicle almost hits you and causes you to crash, either into another car or object; in those cases you must prove this “phantom vehicle” exists (usually through other witnesses or video). In either scenario, you should immediately call the police to report the crash. You should provide as much information as possible to find the phantom vehicle.
UM Coverage Drawbacks for Uninsured Drivers
One major drawback of UM coverage in Arizona is that it does not automatically include coverage for damage to your vehicle. Only if you separately purchased “Collision Coverage” will it cover damage to your vehicle. Without this, you will have to pay to repair your vehicle.
If you know the identity of the uninsured driver who caused the crash, you could sue them in court to obtain money for your injuries and property damage. However, this is not without its drawbacks. Any payment from the uninsured driver will have to come from their own pocket. This means they will need to have money and assets available to pay you. Even if you obtain a jury verdict or court judgment in your favor, you will likely have a difficult time collecting.
Most people who drive around without insurance do so because they cannot afford it or they have nothing to lose. Even if they have money or assets to pay you, they can declare bankruptcy and potentially have the court erase your verdict/judgment. The end result is that you spend a lot of time and money to find out there is no chance for a financial recovery.
Therefore, we emphasize that you should purchase UM coverage. For more tips on insurance coverage and how to pursue a car accident claim, contact Gage Mathers. Contact a personal injury attorney to ensure your legal bases are covered and rights protected.