To address this major problem, California insurers are required to offer uninsured or underinsured (UM or UIM) motorist coverage to all automobile insurance applicants in order to reduce the risk to those responsible drivers who maintain a policy of insurance. Simply stated, uninsured motorist coverage allows a person who is injured by the negligence of an uninsured driver to recover monetary compensation under their own insurance policy.
But be aware that most insurers don’t like selling this type of coverage, because it exposes them to a risk they can’t control – the uninsured driver.When purchasing auto insurance it is imperative that you purchase a UM/UIM policy, and that you purchase more than $15,000.00 of coverage. Why more than $15,000.00? Because California does not allow a person to stack policies in the case of underinsured coverage. That is, if you were in an accident and suffered $40,000.00 of injuries, and the person who hit you maintained a liability policy of only $15,000.00, the minimum allowable under California law, you would not be allowed to use your underinsurance coverage. Your policy of $15,000.00 would be nullified by the negligent driver’s $15,000.00, it can’t be used in addition to. You would need more than $15,000.00 of UIM to invoke it.
Under California law, when uninsured motorist coverage is purchased, it provides coverage for not only the insured, but all members of the insured's family who live in the same household. In addition, a person does not necessarily have to be a driver or passenger to trigger benefits. If a person has uninsured motorist benefits as part of an insurance policy, they may be entitled to recover if they are injured as a pedestrian, motorcyclist, or cyclist.
Unfortunately, making a claim for uninsured or underinsured motorist benefits is not always as easy as it sounds. A claimant must first prove the offending driver was uninsured, or if underinsured, establish that the entire proceeds of the offending driver's policy has been recovered before turning to the uninsured coverage. Other complexities in these policies make it frustrating for individuals making claims under the insurance policies.
Walton Law Firm has handled numerous accident and injury claims involving uninsured and underinsured motorists. If you have questions about your insurance coverage, please submit your confidential question online, or call the insurance lawyers at Walton Law Firm for a free and private consultation. We can be reached toll free at (866) 607-1325 or locally at (760) 571-5500.