Uninsured and Underinsured Motorist Insurance. How to Protect your family from financial ruin?

One of the saddest circumstances I deal with frequently is interviewing a new potential client who has been severely injured thru the clear negligence of another driver, and then informing the potential client that he doesn’t need a lawyer, because the other insurance limits are so low..he can likely obtain them by himself.

When people buy auto insurance they  rely on their insurance broker to protect them. Unfortunately, many brokers fail to adequately explain each of the coverages they sell. If their client is

cost conscious they suggest that the client can save a few dollars by waiving uninsured or underinsured  motorist coverage. This is always a big mistake.

While someone can waive this coverage, the California legislature requires a written waiver which clearly explains the purpose of the insurance and the consequences of waiving it.

Uninsured motorist coverage is insurance that protects a car driver if the negligent party in the accident has no insurance. This happens much more frequently in the past few years, and many sources estimate the number of uninsured drivers to be as much as 25% of all drivers.

Uninsured motorist insurance protects you and your family if the other party is uninsured up to whatever limits you have of uninsured motorist coverage.

So if you are in a collision with an uninsured driver and you  (or anyone else in your car) suffers serious injuries, you can recover from your own uninsured motorist coverage.

If you have a serious injury with damages of $100,000, you can recover up to $100,000 from your own insurance if you had limits that high on your uninsured motorist coverage.

Note that most companies will not sell you uninsured motorist coverage for limits in excess of your liability coverage. So if you have a $50,000/$100,000 liability  you can only buy $50,000/$100,000 UM coverage.

Underinsured Motorist coverage is similar to uninsured motorist coverage except it will pay you up to your limits if the other party has auto insurance but his limits are not enough to cover your injuries.

For example, lets say the at fault driver has liability limits of $50,000/$100,000. That means the most one injured party can recover from him is $50,000. The most everyone in your car can recover from the injured party is $100,000 altogether.

If you carry a $250,000/$500,000 uninsured motorist coverage, then after you collect the first $50,000 from the other driver, you can potentially recover another $200,000 from your own uninsured motorist carrier.

Serious traumatic injuries can be very expensive. A single day and night at UCD Medical center may coast over $25,000.

For this reason, I suggest to my clients that they obtain the highest UM insurance coverage they can afford. For most people, I suggest a minimum of a $100,000/$300,000 policy.

If your family earnings are over $75,000 yearly, I believe  $250,000/$500,000  is the minimum you should carry.

If family earnings are over $125,000 yearly, I suggest a  $500,000/ $1,000,000 policy.

Surprisingly enough, the premium on purchasing these increased limits is not much more than you will pay for the minimum limits.

You may also want to include a personal umbrella policy in addition to your underlying Uninsured Motorist Insurance. This is NOT a typical Umbrella. This is a very specialized type of umbrella that

extends your own Uninsured Motorist coverage up to 1 Million, 2 Million of whatever limits you choose. A regular umbrella does not protect you in this way.

There are a few insurance companies that sell personal umbrella policy’s but you will need to search around or feel free to call me for a recommendation.

I’m Ed Smith, a Sacramento Uninsured and Underinsured Motorist Lawyer since 1982. My website, is the primary vehicular accident website in California. Feel free to call me anytime

at 916-921-6400 in Sacramento for friendly, free advice.


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