Note: in Part I of our blog series, we discussed (1) the state minimum requirements for bodily injury coverage and property damage coverage and (2) the recommendation that most people should insure themselves above the state minimum requirements.
Imagine that you are in a car accident and have been severely injured. The driver responsible for causing the accident doesn’t’ have enough insurance coverage to pay for the medical bills for your serious physical injuries nor for the damage to your car. Even worse, imagine that the driver at fault doesn’t have auto insurance at all.
According to a 2014 study by the Insurance Research Council, 12.6% of motorist—or about one in eight drivers—was uninsured in 2012. However, Indiana ranked higher than the national average with an estimated 14.2% of uninsured drivers.
In Indiana, all liability insurance policies must also provide uninsured-underinsured motorist liability coverage. Essentially, uninsured-underinsured motorist insurance helps cover your costs for an accident with another driver who either does not have auto insurance or does not have enough insurance coverage to pay for the injuries the driver caused. It may also cover your costs if you are the victim of an accident involving a hit-and-run driver.
Under Indiana law, an automobile insurance carrier is required to offer you as much uninsured and underinsured motorist benefits as it does for bodily injury coverage. Ind. Code § 27-7-5-2(a).
Don’t Waive Coverage
You should be very careful not to unintentionally waive, reject or opt out of uninsured-underinsured motorist coverage. Automobile insurance carriers often ask you to sign a paper rejecting or waiving this type of coverage. However, it is generally not a good idea to do so. For example, let’s assume that you are in a car accident and you find out that the other driver doesn’t have car insurance. In this case, unless the other driver has assets that you can go after, you would likely be responsible for all of your costs and damages, if you had chosen to opt out of uninsured-underinsured motorist coverage. Similarly, if you are in an accident with someone with minimal coverage, such as the state minimum requirements, and you decided against the uninsured-underinsured motorist coverage, you would be on the hook for costs that exceed the state minimums.
A Small Price to Pay
At the end of the day, uninsured-underinsured motorist benefits are relatively inexpensive and help protect you from paying out-of-pocket expenses and taking care of you in the unfortunate event you have experienced serious injuries in a motor-vehicle wreck. These benefits also compensate you for the physical injuries, medical bills and wage loss as a result of a crash that was not your fault.
If you have been in an accident with an uninsured or underinsured driver, you should consult with an experienced Indiana uninsured-underinsured motorist claims attorney. Langer & Langer has extensive experience handling uninsured and underinsured motorist claims, and we are committed to doing all we can to help our clients recover. Please contact us if you have any further questions or are in need of legal assistance.