Am I protected if the other driver has no Auto Insurance Coverage?
Our law firm receives a large number of calls from potential clients that were involved in auto accidents caused by individuals that did not have auto insurance coverage. Despite the fact that Illinois has mandatory laws requiring all drivers to have auto insurance coverage, we still see estimates and statistics showing that 1 in 7 drivers hit the road with no coverage. Further complicating matters is the fact that Illinois mandatory auto insurance coverage laws only require drivers to have bodily injury limits of $20,000 which often times can be significantly lower than the value of your injuries sustained in a serious accident.
Drivers need to understand that when they obtain insurance coverage for their automobiles they have the opportunity to obtain coverage that protects them in the event that the at-fault party to a collision (i) either has no auto insurance coverage or (ii) has minimum limits of $20,000. Most drivers understand that when they buy insurance for their cars they will receive collision coverage that will pay for repairs and bodily injury coverage that will pay for injuries sustained by people involved in the accident.
What these people do not understand, and what is rarely explained to them by insurance agents, is that we as consumers can obtain auto insurance coverage that protects us in the event that person that caused our accident has no insurance or very little insurance. Uninsured Motorist (“UM”) coverage protects us in the event that the party at fault has no coverage or is a hit and run driver that leaves the scene of the accident. The cost to obtaining UM coverage with higher limits may be relatively inexpensive, on top of what we are already paying for coverage on our cars, and if 15% of driver’s do not have insurance you must make sure you’re taking those steps necessary to protect yourself and your loved ones in the event an accident occurs.
If the driver that causes your accident and injuries only has minimal coverage ($20,000) and you or a loved one sustains a serious injury how will you collect a settlement that fully compensates you for your injuries? Underinsured Motorist (“UIM”) coverage provides bodily injury coverage over and above the limits of the at fault party’s policy. So, should the at fault party only have $20,000 in coverage and you have the ability to make a claim with your own policy provided that your UIM limits are above $20,000.
The problem we see is that most individuals do not want to spend the additional money on higher UM/UIM limits and have the misconception that the at-fault party’s insurance company should have to pay for their medical bills and pain and suffering. What is not explained to these people when they obtain coverage is that more serious injuries will usually have a settlement value that is much greater than $20,000 and the insurance company is only on the hook for upwards of $20,000.
Please take the time to speak with your auto insurance carrier and obtain a quote for additional UM/UIM coverage with higher limits to protect you and a loved one in the event that you are involved in a car accident with a driver with no or minimal auto insurance coverage. If you have any questions or want a further explanation of these issues prior to contacting the insurance company call one of our attorneys for a free explanation.