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Need For Uninsured Motorist Coverage Increases

Posted By Regan Zambri & Long || 4-May-2009

Posted by: Salvatore J. Zambri, Esquire and Catherine Bertram, Esquire

Uninsured motorist coverage is needed most especially during a recession.  According to a report by NewsOn6.com, The Insurance Research Council (IRC) indicates that one in seven drivers is presently  without automobile insurance, and reports a “strong correlation” between unemployment rates and number of uninsured drivers.  The site reports that “if economic struggles persist, the IRC estimates one in six drivers will be uninsured by 2010 — an all-time high.”

Mr. Zambri, senior partner of Regan Zambri & Long, and Past-President of the Trial Lawyers Association of Metropolitan Washington, D.C., wrote an article about uninsured motorist benefits and the importance of having appropriate insurance coverage.  Here is a reproduction of the article:

Uninsured/Underinsured Motorist Coverage

Almost everywhere in this country, if you own a car, it must be insured.  If it isn't, you could face fines or even jail time.  Unfortunately, in practice, not everyone complies with the law.  Consequently, there are many vehicles on the road without insurance coverage.  Also, many of whom abide by the law and purchase insurance coverage, cannot afford substantial coverage.  For these reasons, we highly recommend that your automobile insurance coverage include uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage.

Uninsured motorist (UM) coverage applies when you are in an accident caused by the fault of another driver and the other driver has no liability coverage.  Underinsured motorist (UIM) coverage, often purchased along with uninsured motorist coverage, applies when the damages you've suffered as a result of an accident exceed the liability coverage provided by the at-fault driver's policy.  Under these circumstances, the UM/UIM coverage limits of your policy are effectively transferred to the other driver as liability limits.

Consider a circumstance in which you are rear-ended by an uninsured motorist and are hospitalized as a result of serious bodily injuries.  If you do not have UM/UIM coverage, your only option is to pursue a claim against the at-fault driver and attempt to collect from his personal assets.  This is hardly an attractive, cheap, or easy option for recouping your losses.  If a person is willing to break the law and not pay for liability coverage, it is not likely that person will have enough assets from which you can collect a fair recovery.  Consequently, you would be left paying out-of-pocket for an accident that wasn't your fault and you would not recover a penny for your pain and suffering.

In determining how much UM/UIM coverage to purchase from your automobile insurance provider, consider how these coverages apply.  If you're in an accident and end up with $50,000.00 in medical bills and the at-fault driver's insurance has a liability policy limit of $25,000.00, you will be able to recover the policy limit.  However, if you do not have UIM coverage, you would be forced to collect any additional amount against the other driver directly, which, as described above, is not likely to be productive.  If, on the other hand, you had $50,000.00 of UIM coverage, then in most states you would be able to recover the $25,000.00 policy limit from the other driver's carrier, plus an additional $25,000.00 from your carrier (note that your insurance carrier is entitled to a dollar-for-dollar credit for the payments made by the other driver's insurance company).  In this example, however, even if you had $50,000.00 of UIM coverage, you would only be getting reimbursed $50,000.00 total, which just covers your medical bills and pays you nothing for your lost wages, pain, or suffering.  Therefore, we encourage you to consider having substantially higher coverage, especially because the cost of the additional coverage is not great.

Please feel free to contact Mr. Zambri at szambri@reganfirm.com, or call him at 202-822-1899, if you have questions about the coverages you've purchased from your automobile insurance carrier.

Many Americans are killed or injured each year in traffic collisions.  If you want more information about your legal rights, please click here or call the law firm of Regan Zambri & Long, PLLC  at 202-759-6699.

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