When you get into a car accident due to another driver’s negligence, you may assume that things will go relatively smoothly. After all, the other driver clearly caused the accident, so their insurance company should, reasonably, pay out for any damages you sustained because of the accident.
Then the report comes back: the other driver does not have insurance.
In Georgia, around 12.4% of drivers do not carry auto insurance, despite state laws clearly mandating that drivers must carry minimum insurance protection in order to legally operate their vehicles. Drivers that fail to carry that auto insurance can face stiff penalties, including fines. However, that may not help when you have suffered serious damage or injuries in an accident with a driver who does not carry auto insurance.
That’s where underinsured motorist coverage, also known as UM, kicks in.
What is UM/Underinsured Motorist Coverage in Georgia?
Underinsured motorist coverage provides compensation when the driver that caused your accident does not have auto insurance. Most insurance providers offer UM as a standard option with most of their insurance policies, providing essential coverage when drivers who do have auto insurance get into an accident with a driver who does not carry that essential insurance.
UM insurance will provide the same benefits you could claim if you suffered an accident with a driver who has insurance. Instead of the other driver’s insurance covering the damages associated with your accident, however, you will claim compensation through your own insurance provider. That means you can claim compensation for all financial losses associated with the accident, including:
- Damage to your vehicle
- Medical costs associated with the accident
- Lost wages due to the accident
You may also have the right to claim compensation for pain and suffering associated with the accident, depending on your policy and the extent of your injuries.
Is UM Insurance the Same as Collision Insurance?
Comprehensive insurance provides coverage for the damages associated with an accident when you cause the accident. UM coverage, on the other hand, provides compensation when the other driver causes the accident, but does not have insurance coverage that can help you get compensation for your injuries and the damage to your vehicle.
Many collision policies will include UM coverage. However, you may need to consult your policy to learn more about what coverage you actually have in the event of an accident.
Does a UM Coverage Claim Make My Insurance Go Up?
Whether a UM claim makes your insurance go up may depend on your insurance provider. Because you did not cause the accident, your insurance provider may not raise your insurance rates. On the other hand, some insurance companies will raise your rates any time you make a claim, even if that claim does not occur due to your own negligence. Talk to your insurance provider to learn more about your specific policy and what you can expect from your insurance rates after a claim.
What is Underinsured Motorist Coverage/UIM Coverage?
UIM coverage also helps to provide compensation for the damages caused by an accident with another driver. Unlike UM insurance, however, UIM insurance does not cover all the costs associated with an accident. Instead, it offers compensation when the driver has insurance but does not carry adequate coverage to cover the full extent of the damages you had to deal with due to your accident.
Georgia law notes that drivers in Georgia must carry $25,000 in property damage protection per accident and $25,000 in bodily injury protection insurance per person injured in an accident. However, in many cases, damages may exceed the protection offered by a minimum-coverage policy.
Suppose, for example, that you drive a $40,000 vehicle, and you get into an accident that totals your vehicle with a driver that carries only minimum insurance. You may receive $25,000 in compensation for your vehicle, but that would still leave you $15,000 short of the replacement cost of your vehicle. Underinsured motorist coverage can help provide compensation for the additional damages, allowing you to replace your vehicle or take care of repairs up to the value of the vehicle. Likewise, underinsured motorist coverage can provide some assistance with the cost of medical expenses that come up after a car accident that the liable party’s insurance coverage does not extend to cover. If you have serious concerns about medical payments after a potential accident, however, you may want to make sure that you have MedPay coverage, which will provide coverage for medical bills regardless of who causes an accident.
Not every insurance policy comes with underinsured motorist coverage. While a collision or comprehensive policy might offer that vital protection, you may need to make sure that you carry specific coverage to provide protection for your needs. Drivers of expensive vehicles may want to make sure that they have underinsured motorist coverage so that they have adequate protection to cover the cost of repairs or replacement, regardless of who causes an accident. Underinsured motorist coverage generally adds only a small amount to your insurance payments each month.
A Lawyer Can Help You Understand Your Coverage and Your Rights After an Accident
Determining how to handle your insurance claim after an accident can prove complicated. If you get into an accident with an uninsured driver, you may want to have a lawyer review your insurance policy and your coverage to give you a better idea of how much coverage you have and what compensation you can expect for the damages associated with your accident. Furthermore, a lawyer can help you lay out the damages you sustained and put together an effective claim.
Even when you file a claim with your own insurance provider, working with a lawyer can help provide essential protection. Your insurance company may not want to pay out the full damages you deserve after an accident, but a lawyer can help make sure that you understand your rights and make it easier for you to move forward with your claim. Contact Cambre & Associates today to learn more about your specific rights and how to navigate the aftermath of your accident with an uninsured or underinsured driver.