What the Heck is Uninsured Motorist and Underinsured Motorist Coverage

Uninsured motorist (“UM”) coverage is coverage that you maintain in the event you are injured by the negligence of another driver who is uninsured. Underinsured motorist (“UIM”) coverage provides the same coverage for injuries that exceed the value of the responsible driver’s insurance. So, if the other driver has $20,000 in coverage, but your injuries are worth $100,000, you can receive the additional $80,000 from your insurer if you have uninsured motorist coverage of $100,000.

UM/UIM coverage cannot exceed the limits on your policy for injury to third parties. Therefore, if you have a $20,000 policy for bodily injury caused by you, your UM/UIM coverage limit will be $20,000 as well. That provides you very little coverage in the event that you are in an accident with an uninsured motorist or one who carries a policy with minimum coverage.

Connecticut’s minimum car insurance requirements are $20,000 per person and $40,000 per occurrence. That means that someone injured in an accident caused by you or someone covered by your policy may only receive up to $20,000 in compensation from your insurer. If multiple people are injured, then a total of merely $40,000 is available. If the value of a third person’s injuries exceeds $20,000, then that person can seek a judgment against you for the full amount of his or her damages, which could exceed your level of insurance coverage. Therefore, your assets (home, personal property, savings, etc…) are potentially exposed to satisfy any judgments against you.

We have many clients with serious injuries who come into the office having been injured by uninsured motorists or those with minimum policies. While the value of their damages may be well into the six figures or seven figures, the chances of collecting from the uninsured or underinsured motorist are minimal. The first place we look for additional coverage is to the client’s UM/UIM coverage. If the client also maintained a minimum policy, their UM/UIM coverage will provide little to no assistance to them. As such, by maintaining the minimum coverage or even low value coverage ($100,000), they have done themselves a great disservice. We fully understand that some people do not have the resources to maintain significant levels of auto insurance coverage. However, for those who can afford more robust coverage but choose to maintain lower levels of coverage, that decision could pose grave consequences to your assets and your own recovery. This is particularly true where parents are paying for the coverage of their children, new drivers who are more likely to be involved in an accident.

An unfortunate reality of our current economy is that many people are not able to afford auto insurance with significant liability limits. We generally recommend to our clients that they maintain policies with at least $500,000 in personal injury coverage (with an umbrella policy if financially feasible). If you can afford more coverage then you should have more. That level of coverage will generally be sufficient to cover you and your family in the event of an accident that results in bodily injury. Many people, however, cannot afford insurance at those levels. While others make the choice to maintain minimum coverage limits as a cost-saving measure. That is a shortsighted decision that could cause significant problems down the road if you are involved in an accident in which you are injured.

Sullivan Heiser & Sweeney Solves Problems With Integrity. We help people injured in accidents receive fair and just compensation. Please contact us for an appointment if you have been injured in accident.

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