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Uninsured/Underinsured Motorist Insurance in Texas: What it Does and Why you Need it

All drivers in Texas are required by law to have a minimum amount of auto insurance. The minimums in Texas are $30,000 for each injured person, up to a total of $60,000 per accident, and $25,000 for property damage per accident. This basic coverage is called 30/60/25 coverage. However, the high costs of a car wreck, including your economic and economic damages, might not be covered by a minimum insurance policy. If you are involved in an accident with an uninsured driver, then you could potentially have to deal with the costs of an injury entirely by yourself.

This is where Uninsured/Underinsured (UM/UIM) motorist coverage comes in. It will pay your expenses from a motor vehicle accident caused by an uninsured driver, a hit-and-run driver, or a underinsured driver with a policy that does not have enough insurance to cover all costs from a wreck. There are two types of coverage: Bodily injury UM/UIM and Property damage UM/UIM. Bodily injury UM/UIM pays for lost wages, pain and suffering, medical bills, disfigurement, and permanent or partial disability. No deductible is required for Bodily injury UM/UIM. Property damage UM/UIM has a mandatory $250 deductible, and it pays for things like items damaged in your car, diminished value of your car, and any auto repairs. Both forms of UM/UIM cover you, passengers, family members, and those driving your car with your permission. In Texas, insurance companies are required to offer UM/UIM. You must reject the insurance in writing if you don’t want it, like with Personal Injury Protection.

Uninsured/Underinsured motorist coverage is essential to have. If you are hit on the road, there is a good chance the negligent driver either has the minimum policy or is uninsured. Statistics from the Insurance Information Institute report that 12.6 percent of drivers are uninsured. If you are involved in a wreck with an uninsured driver, the cost burden of the collision can fall entirely on you. The cost of repairing or replacing your car, or any treatment required from your injuries is often significant. If the crash is serious, and your injuries are also serious, costs can escalate quickly. Without UM/UIM coverage this financial burden can seriously disrupt your life. Outstanding medical bills can destroy your credit or force you to declare bankruptcy. The cost of long-term treatment can prevent you from getting the treatment you need. You can’t control the actions of a negligent uninsured or underinsured driver, but you can protect yourself against their negligence with UM/UIM coverage.

Another common scenario is a serious wreck with multiple drivers involved. If one driver is liable, and the only insurance is a minimum policy, that money must be divided up among all injured parties. Having underinsured motorist coverage can help make sure there is enough insurance money to go around to make sure you are not left in a financial hole. After the at-fault driver’s minimum policy is exhausted, you can access your underinsured motorist policy to help deal with expenses and non-economic losses.

Unfortunately, even if you have UM/UIM coverage and are involved in a wreck that is not your fault, your insurance company will not automatically pay your expenses. They have an incentive to pay as little money as possible under your policy. Your injuries could be serious enough to need all of the money in your policy for current and future medical costs, but your insurance company will not just take your word. They require copies of medical bills and records, recorded interviews about the accident, proof that the at-fault driver doesn’t have adequate insurance, expert reports that prove the need for future medical care, and even after providing everything they ask for they can deny you the money. This is where having an experienced personal injury attorney on your side can help. An attorney can help you navigate the insurance company’s maze and make sure you are not taken advantage of.

References

  1. http://www.tdi.texas.gov/pubs/consumer/cb020.html
  2. http://www.insurance.com/auto-insurance/coverage/uninsured-underinsured-motorist-coverage.html

 

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Scott Butler

Scott Butler holds degrees in political science and history from the University of Texas at Austin. He is a former editor at Landes Bioscience, Cengage Learning, and the Association of Certified Fraud Examiners. Scott is interested in how law, technology, and economics interact to change and affect our world. He is a former Case Manager at FVF Law and is currently pursuing a law degree at Baylor University.

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