5 Things to Know about Accidents Involving Uninsured/Underinsured Drivers
One aspect of auto insurance that we find many clients do not understand is uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage. If you own a car in Oklahoma, you should have uninsured motorist coverage or UM coverage, because there are a lot of uninsured drivers. Here are a few points about UM insurance that you should know:
- You may be paying for UM coverage. Oklahoma law requires auto insurers to offer uninsured motorist (UM) insurance to you in the same minimum coverage limits as liability insurance ($25,000 per person and $50,000 per accident for bodily injury and $25,000 per accident for property damage). Unless you specifically declined to buy it in writing by signing a statement, your auto policy should include UM coverage. We suggest you carry uninsured motorist coverage. UM coverage pays for personal injuries (medical expenses) caused by a driver who is uninsured or underinsured or by a hit and run driver.
- You may need UM coverage. Oklahoma has the highest percentage of uninsured motorists in the country – 26 percent or more than one in four – according to the Insurance Information Institute and a 2014 study by the Insurance Research Council. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration said in April 2014 that 19 percent of pedestrians killed in 2012 were involved in hit and run crashes. Of cities with populations higher than 500,000, Detroit had the highest pedestrian fatality rate, followed by Oklahoma City.
- UM provides wide coverage. UM pays for personal injuries if you are a driver, pedestrian, or bicyclist involved in an accident caused by a hit and run driver or you are hit by a motorist who is identified but has no auto insurance. UM also pays the difference if the motorist who hits you has too little coverage to meet your medical expenses, as is often the case with minimum liability coverage. UM covers you (the policyholder), members of your family who live with you, and any other occupants of your motor vehicle at the time of the wreck.
- UM coverage is also narrow. Uninsured motorist insurance does not pay for damage to your car. If an uninsured motorist or hit and run driver damages your car, repairs would be paid for through your collision coverage, if you have it. If you only carry liability insurance, the minimum required by law, you won’t receive insurance money to repair your car.
- You may need legal help to collect on your UM coverage. Regardless of the coverage you hold, your insurance company would prefer not having to pay you. If there’s any reason to deny your claim, such as your inability to prove your injury was caused by a hit and run driver, they could take advantage of it to delay or deny payment. There are several other ways for an insurer to delay or reduce the payout you deserve, too.
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