You may not know that you have protection under your own auto policy for uninsured (UM) and underinsured (UIM) motorist coverage.
Unfortunately, many drivers in Illinois do not carry auto insurance, and many drivers carry only the bare minimum amount of coverage. This is when your auto policy’s uninsured (UM) and underinsured (UIM) coverage becomes important. Uninsured motorist coverage protects you by providing coverage for injuries caused by a driver who has no insurance. Underinsured motorist coverage protects you in the event a driver does not have enough coverage to satisfy the value of your claim.
Using a basic example, assume you are injured after being hit from behind while stopped for a traffic light. To use simple math, assume the value of your claim is $100,000.00. Consider this scenario applying uninsured and underinsured coverage:
The driver who hit you has no insurance, and no real assets to make it worthwhile pursuing a claim against him or her. This is where your auto policy’s uninsured motorist coverage comes into play. The question becomes how much coverage you chose to purchase when you applied for the policy. If you only carry the state-law minimum of $25,000.00, you are limited to only collecting that amount no matter how high the value of your claim is. If you have a policy that carries $50,000.00, then you will be limited to collecting that amount, etc. Obviously, the higher your coverage the more you are protected. In our example, you would need to have at least $100,000.00 in uninsured motorist coverage to fully compensate you for your claim.
The driver who hit you has auto insurance, but not enough to fully compensate you for the value of your claim. Let’s assume the driver has the state-law minimum coverage of $25,000.00. This means the driver is underinsured, since he or she does not have enough coverage to satisfy the value of your claim, which is $100,000.00 under our example. Then the question again becomes the amount of coverage you have under your own underinsured motorist policy.
Let’s assume you have underinsured motorist coverage of $100,000.00. In this scenario, you would be able to pursue the other driver’s insurance for the full $25,000.00, and then pursue the remaining available amount through your own auto policy.
Not having enough UM/UIM protection can result in significant negative consequences leaving you without enough compensation if you are injured by somebody without insurance, or by somebody who doesn’t have enough insurance coverage.
Even with enough UM/UIM coverage, it is important to have an attorney on your side that can help pursue the claim, since the insurance company will likely still put up a fight by trying to deny the claim, avoid paying the claim, or attempt to minimize the claim as much as possible.