If you get into an accident, insurance companies go after uninsured drivers through several methods to compensate for your claim. Your own insurance coverage may already compensate you after an accident involving an uninsured driver, such as:
- Collision insurance
- Uninsured or underinsured motorist coverage
- Personal Injury Protection Coverage (PIP)
If the uninsured driver was at-fault, your insurance may also take the driver to court for coverage.
If you’re confused as to how insurance companies compensate you for an accident, consult an attorney for legal advice. They know the process better than anyone, and the process for compensation is different for uninsured drivers compared to regular car accident claims.
What is the Uninsured Motorist Clause in Your State?
Uninsured motorist accidents are a recurring problem in the United States, with 1 in 8 drivers uninsured across the country according to a 2019 study done by the IRC. To combat this problem, some states have mandated uninsured motorist clauses into their insurance policies.
An uninsured motorist clause is a part of an insurance policy allowing you to receive compensation during uninsured motorist accidents. Not every state has this clause, but 20 states including the District of Columbia require coverage. It may also require policies to offer uninsured motorist coverage or have you opt-out.
Is Uninsured Motorist Coverage (UM) Required?
The main way insurance companies go after uninsured drivers is through uninsured motorist coverage (UM). UM is required in multiple states, but some allow you to opt-out of this coverage. This insurance policy covers your damages according to your policy limits after an accident with an uninsured motorist.
Driving without uninsured motorist coverage is a huge risk, as about 13% of drivers countrywide are uninsured. Even if the accident was their fault, you may have to pay a portion of your damages if you don’t have UM coverage. If you find yourself in that situation, you need an attorney on your side to lower your costs however you can.
What is Underinsured Motorist Coverage (UIM)?
If you get into an accident and the other driver’s insurance policy isn’t enough to cover your damages, underinsured motorist coverage may cover the difference.
Underinsured motorist coverage is often bundled with UM coverage and is just as important for compensation after an accident. Some states like Maryland even require both UM/UIM coverage in your insurance policy.
The minimum liability coverage in your state may seem adequate, but medical bills and repair costs can reach hundreds of thousands of dollars. Some life-threatening conditions like spinal cord injuries and TBIs can reach up to $1 million in damages alone.
What Accidents Does UM and UIM Cover?
UM/UIM coverage is split into two categories depending on your state:
- Uninsured/Underinsured motorist bodily injury: This compensates you and your passengers’ injuries
- Uninsured/Underinsured motorist property damages: This pays for vehicle damages caused by the accident
Your uninsured motorist policy covers vehicle damages as well as your injury damages. For example, if your damages amounted to $50,000 and your UM policy is $100,000, you’ll receive $50,000 of compensation.
Here are the following accidents UM/UIM insurance covers if the other driver was uninsured:
UM/UIM coverage even covers hit-and-run accidents depending on your state laws. If your injuries are way above your minimums after a hit-and-run, your UM/UIM coverage will pay for the difference.
Does Uninsured Motorist Insurance Cover Non-Economic Damages?
UM/UIM insurance may cover pain and suffering damages according to the limits in your state. Your health insurance, however, will not pay for non-economic damages and only covers losses to your property.
Pursuing Compensation Through Subrogation
Subrogation occurs when an insurance company pursues the at-fault driver for compensation on the behalf of the insured. Subrogation protects you and your insurance company from paying damages that weren’t your fault by footing the bill to the at-fault driver.
Usually the at-fault driver’s insurance company takes care of the bill instead. If they’re uninsured, however, they may pay for your damages through separate means according to how your insurance handles subrogation.
Be wary of signing a waiver of subrogation before talking to an attorney. These waivers prevent your insurance company from acting on your behalf after an accident. The at-fault driver may want you to sign one to settle the accident without involving insurance companies.
Be absolutely sure that you don’t want insurance companies involved before signing a waiver of subrogation. Talk to your auto attorney as well before you sign forms, especially a car accident claim release form.
PIP Coverage and Uninsured Accidents
Personal injury protection (PIP) coverage is another way insurance companies go after uninsured drivers. Some no-fault states require you to carry PIP coverage so your accidents are compensated regardless of fault.
Should I Sue an Uninsured Driver?
You may sue an uninsured driver if you have UM/UIM insurance. If you don’t, you have limited options for compensation. Your insurance company may decide to subrogate the at-fault driver, but that’s up to them and will not directly affect you.
You may also pursue a personal injury claim if they’re uninsured and the damages you received are substantial. This is another way for you to get the compensation you deserve to pay for the economic and non-economic damages you suffered.
Consult an Auto Accident Attorney to Know Your Next Steps
If you’re unclear about how insurance companies go after uninsured drivers and you got into an accident, call an attorney to answer your questions.
A car accident attorney near you can answer specific questions related to your case we couldn’t answer with this guide. You can start by calling our 500+ law firm network to start your free consultation.
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Jan Reburiano is a content writer and SEO specialist for law firms focusing on personal injury, disability, employment law, among other practices. He has written and edited numerous articles and created commercial spots for broadcasters that you can find in his LinkedIn. Jan currently lives in Los Angeles, California while writing for clients from around the United States.