Every state requires that motorists carry liability insurance in case they cause injuries or property damage in an accident. However, drivers frequently break this law. Research studies have shown that approximately 1 in every 7 drivers in the United States are uninsured. Even a higher percentage of drivers are underinsured. An underinsured driver carries liability insurance, but not enough to cover serious damages that can result from a bad motor vehicle accident. In Pennsylvania, the minimum insurance limits required by law is barely enough to cover minor injuries, let alone a more lengthy hospital stay. For this reason, the Wieand Law Firm recommends that all drivers purchase Uninsured/Underinsured Motorist Coverage of at least 100k/300k to protect themselves and household family members.
In this article, Pennsylvania automobile accident lawyer, Brent Wieand will discuss the basics of Uninsured / Underinsured (UM/UIM) Motorist Coverage in Pennsylvania.
Uninsured Motorist (UM) Coverage is insurance that protects you in the event you are injured by an uninsured driver. UM coverage must conform to specific regulations enacted by the Insurance Commission. Although it is optional coverage in Pennsylvania, every automobile insurance policy providing for liability coverage automatically includes uninsured motorist coverage unless it is rejected in writing by the insured. UM bodily injury coverage includes the policyholder, other drivers covered by the policy, household relatives and any passengers in the vehicle at the time of the accident.
Underinsured Motorist (UIM) Coverage protects the insured in the even you are injured by a driver who has insufficient insurance to cover the damages he/she caused in an accident. This coverage is sold together with uninsured motorist coverage.
You can purchase different amount of UM/UIM insurance. The higher the policy limits the more expensive the coverage will be. We recommend that all motorists carry UM/UIM coverage limits of at least 100k/300k. This means that your own automobile insurance will pay you for recoverable damages up to $100,000 per person and $300,000 per occurrence.
Example 1: You are driving home from work and another driver runs a red light and T-bones your vehicle. The other driver is a 13-year old boy who took his parents car for a joyride. He is uninsured. You can make an Uninsured (UM) Motorist claim for accident related injuries, medical bills and lost wages from your own insurance company up to your $100,000 policy limit.
If you rejected UM coverage, you would have to sue the at-fault driver to recover your damages. Usually, uninsured drivers don’t have money or assets and you won’t be able to recover compensation for your injuries and other damages.
Example 2: You and three friends are driving to concert. A vehicle traveling the opposite direction crosses over the center line and heads straight towards you. You swerve, lose control and hit a tree. The other vehicle never stops (this is known as a “phantom vehicle”). Under this scenario, your UM insurance would provide coverage for each person injured in the accident. The maximum any person could recover is $100,000. The maximum amount that your insurance would pay for all four people injured in the accident is $300,000.
Example 3: You are rear ended by a driver with minimum coverage ($15k/$30k liability insurance). As a result, you suffer serious injuries and wage loss (with a value of $100,000 for the purposes of this example). You can recover only $15,000 from the at-fault driver who is underinsured. Since your damages are worth in excess of the at-fault driver’s insurance coverage, you can make an Underinsured (UIM) Motorist claim with your insurance company. Your insurance company would get a credit of $15,000 (the amount paid by the other driver) and pay you $85,000 for your injuries (for $100,000 total). If your accident related injures were worth $115,000 you would be entitled to the the $15,000 from the other driver and the per person coverage limit of $100,000 from your insurance company.
If you were seriously injured in an automobile accident speak with a personal injury lawyer at the Wieand Law Firm today at 1 (215) 666-7777. Free legal consultation. Never pay costs or attorneys fees unless we recover money for you!