DO YOU KNOW YOUR LIMITS? THE IMPORTANCE OF UNDERINSURED MOTORIST COVERAGE
I often ask my clients the following during our initial meeting: “Do you have UIM coverage? Do you know your limits?” The response I often get is “Oh, I have full coverage.” However, “full coverage” does not necessarily ensure that you will be fully compensated in the event of a collision. The reality of auto accident litigation is that virtually every recovery is obtained exclusively through insurance. This is because Kentucky law, the costs of litigation, and the lack of assets generally held by a negligent driver make it practically impossible to recover from a negligent driver personally. Under Kentucky law, the minimum amount of insurance a person may purchase for their motor vehicle is $25,000 per person/$50,000 per incident. In my experience, a majority of drivers on the road purchase only the minimum legal coverage, leaving a significant probability that persons injured by such drivers will not be fully compensated in the absence of another source of recovery. Imagine the following scenario:
You are t-boned at an intersection by a driver running a red light. The accident was clearly not your fault and you sustain significant injuries requiring an emergency room visit, multiple follow-ups with your primary care physician, and physical therapy. Your medical bills are over $40,000. You go to your attorney for help, and he or she tells you that the negligent driver only has $25,000 in insurance available to pay for your medical bills. What about the other $15,000? What about your pain, suffering, and inconvenience? Without underinsured (UIM) motorist coverage, you could be stuck paying the remaining medical bills out of your own pocket with your pain and suffering uncompensated.
What is UIM Coverage?
Underinsured motorist coverage is designed to protect you in situations such as the one above. Insurance policies often designate that underinsured motorist coverage kicks in once a negligent driver’s liability insurance has been exhausted. This means that your insurance company is on the hook for the remaining balance of your medical bills as well as pain and suffering. For a nominal amount, you can increase the policy limits available to you by tens of thousands of dollars. Policies are often written such that this coverage protects not only you, but members of your household as well. Call your insurance agent today and inquire about your UIM limits to better protect yourself and your loved ones.
- Jonathan Fannin, Trial Attorney, Lexington