What is uninsured / underinsured motorist coverage? This coverage is commonly called UIM. This valuable coverage is provided through your automobile insurance policy. And, it provides compensation for your injuries when the at-fault driver does not have adequate liability insurance coverage. In Alabama, insurance companies must provide UIM coverage (at least in the minimum amount) on your policy unless you specifically waive it. You should never do that! In fact, you should talk with your agent about purchasing more than the minimum required limits.
Uninsured / Underinsured Coverage Protects Alabama Families Seriously Injured By A Negligent Driver
You are driving to work. Suddenly, another driver runs a red light and crashes into you. You are hurt. You start receiving medical bills. And, you are unable to work. When you make a claim against the at-fault driver you learn he had NO car insurance. I know – this is illegal. Even if he had the minimum coverage (currently $25,000), it would only cover a fraction of your damages. What should you do? If you have UIM coverage on your policy, then you can recover additional money to help with your damages.
Let’s look at the math. Assume your damages are $50,000. The at-fault driver carried the minimum legally required limits of liability coverage in Alabama of $25,000. So, his insurance company pays that amount. But, that does not cover all your damages. You still have another $25,000 in damages. That’s where your UIM enters the picture. This is very important insurance for you and your family. I’ve been handling Alabama car accident claims for over two decades. And, you should consider increasing your UIM coverage well-above the minimum required limits.
Alabama Has A Problem With Both Uninsured And Underinsured Drivers
I know – Alabama law requires all drivers to carry liability insurance. But, the reality on our roads is far different. Many drivers do not have proper insurance. Other drivers purchase liability coverage but then let it lapse. Alabama has long had a problem with uninsured drivers. At one point, over 20% of the drivers in our state did not carry liability insurance. Thankfully, that percentage has declined. But, we still share the road with many drivers who do not have insurance.
In recent years, a number of insurance companies have entered Alabama just to sell minimum limits policies. I think this has become an even greater problem than uninsured drivers. At our office, we regularly deal with serious car accidents where the at-fault driver only carried the minimum limits. It’s a very difficult conversation when you have to explain to a hurting family with hundreds of thousands of dollars in medical bills that the guy who ran the red light only had minimum liability coverage. I’ve had that conversation many times in recent years. Earlier this year, I had to have the conversation with a family facing over a million dollars in hospital bills, alone.
Let me put the minimum coverage issue in context. If you are med-flighted to an emergency room, the helicopter bill will consume almost all of that coverage. What about the rest of your damages? What if your injuries are permanent?
The bills for a single ambulance and emergency room visit can consume a significant portion of the coverage if only minimum limits are available from the at-fault driver. What if you need medical care beyond the emergency room? What if you cannot work while recovering? You can quickly suffer damages beyond the minimum limits.
You may not want to think about the topic. I understand. But, it’s too late when an accident occurs. Because of these issues, you should discuss your UIM coverage with an insurance agent you trust. I would also caution you about the companies offering UIM coverage. Find a company that treats its insureds well. One large insurance company in Alabama sells lots of UIM coverage but almost never protects its insureds without a fight. It feels like a slap in the face when you pay premiums for years and your own company then ignores you! Get the coverage you need through the company you need! Do your homework and talk to people you trust.
Seek Expert Legal Advice If Seriously Injured. You Must Follow The Proper Procedures To Collect Uninsured / Underinsured Benefits
You have a car accident injury claim. Be careful who you hire. Too many lawyers advertise for everything, yet specialize in nothing. Too many lawyers advertise for personal injury cases, yet will not fight for their clients. These lawyers can ruin a good claim.
One local Huntsville lawyer put a video on his website telling consumers he can handle their car accident claims because he has had family members suffer accidents. Really? That’s insane. You are not qualified to handle complicated and serious injury cases because your cousin had a car wreck in the past. Families dealing with the pain and stress of a serious injury deserve better. But, that’s a topic for another day.
In Alabama, you must follow specific procedures to preserve your rights to UIM coverage. If your lawyer does not understand these special claims, it can cost you. You can lose your rights to claim UIM benefits simply because you did not know the procedures. If you suffered a serious injury, ask questions. Consult with a lawyer who specializes in personal injury claims and trials. Consult with a lawyer who regularly handles large UIM claims. Your case and recovery are important.
From its office in Huntsville, the Blackwell Law Firm handles serious car accident and other personal injury cases across Alabama. If you have questions about an accident or injury, let us know. We are happy to answer your questions. Consultations are always free and confidential.