What You Absolutely Need to Understand About Your Auto Insurance: Uninsured UM) and Underinsured Motorist (UIM) Coverage
Hello, I’m Attorney Jeff Robinette. I would like to discuss with you what insurance applies to automobile collision claims.
First of all, in West Virginia, like most states, there are minimum statutory limits for liability coverage that are required by every motorist.
This means that every driver and every vehicle on the road is supposed to have a minimum of $25,000 in liability insurance coverage.
About How Many Drivers are Uninsured in West Virginia?
Unfortunately, about one in six of drivers in West Virginia statistically had been found to be without any insurance whatsoever.
This means if you are unfortunately involved in a collision, you have a one in six chance that you’re going to have to deal with being injured or being damaged by someone who doesn’t have insurance coverage.
This is why state law also requires that vehicles and operators have uninsured motorist coverage for their vehicle and for their personal injury protection, and this means that if you are involved in a collision with a motorist who does not have insurance coverage at all, then it would be your own insurance coverage, what is called uninsured motorist coverage, or U-M in capital letters under insurance policy. That type of insurance would apply to your claim.
Thirdly, there are instances where a motorist doesn’t have sufficient enough insurance coverage to cover the damages and injuries caused by the collision. And so insurance coverage for underinsured motorist coverage would apply to this claim.
What is UM and UIM Coverage on My Auto Insurance?
If you look on your declarations page of your insurance policy, you will see three letters, U-I-M, in capital letters. That stands for Underinsured Motorist Coverage.
This coverage protects you from motorists who have insufficient funds or insurance coverage to pay for your claim. And finally, there is medical payments coverage on your person and occupants of your vehicle. And this insurance is used to apply to medical payments for bills that are associated with injuries stemming from your collision.
How Does UM and UIM Auto Insurance Apply if I Am Involved in a Collision?
Now let’s do a little mockup of a motor vehicle collision, and let’s see if you can follow the coverage that follows the collision.
Let’s say that you are stopped at an intersection and an individual coming at a high rate of speed is not paying attention and rear-ends your vehicle. You sustain severe injuries to your neck, and are taken by ambulance to the hospital where you’re told that you have a herniated disk in your neck, and you will require a surgery.
And after hospitalization, you come to find out that the individual that hit you only has $25,000 in liability coverage. Yet, your medical bills exceed$60,000 alone, not to mention your lost wages and your pain and suffering.
So what insurance would apply to ensure that you would get a fair settlement for your claim? You’d have to seek your own insurance coverage for underinsured motorist coverage, in addition to the liability coverage that the at-fault driver had own his vehicle. And the medical payments coverage can be used to offset to those medical bills.
But please keep in mind that the pain and suffering for these types of injuries far exceed the medical payments coverage and the liability coverages that apply. This is why you should carry substantial amounts of underinsured motorist coverage, as well as medical payments coverage on your vehicle.
Do not rely upon the other guy to carry proper insurance coverage for his negligent acts. But as always, you should seek competent legal counsel to discuss your claim. Do not try to add these numbers up on your own, because these numbers are sophisticated when it comes to applying them to each particular case.
And remember, that the call to the attorney is free. So please give us a call if you have a question. Thank you.
Questions? Call 304.594.1800 Today for Free Answers for your auto accident and insurance questions.
Jeffery Robinette was admitted to practice law in 1991 and is licensed in all levels of state and federal trial courts in West Virginia. Mr. Robinette is also licensed in all state and federal appeals courts in West Virginia and the United States Supreme Court. As a National Board Certified Trial Attorney who has handled hundreds of motor vehicle, injury, and construction defect claims and a leading author on insurance claims settlement issues and difficulties in West Virginia, Jeff Robinette is uniquely qualified to represent your best interest.