Why every driver needs adequate uninsured/underinsured motor insurance
There you are, driving leisurely on a backroad. You’re making the most of the alone time by singing along, loudly, to your leisure-drive playlist, and that’s when it hits you. “It” is a burgundy-colored ’05 sedan that has blown straight through a stop sign, though at that moment, you’re aware of nothing but confusion, fear and extreme pain.
All-too-common scenarios like this epitomize the phrases “life happens” and “no one said life was fair,” among some choice others. Not only are you missing work as you recover from several injuries (and you should recover fully—sometimes life does offer small favors), but you learn the other driver had minimal policy limits or worse, was uninsured. Well, you think, that’s their problem.
Let’s recall those aforementioned phrases, particularly the one about life’s unfairness. The uninsured/underinsured driver certainly is responsible for the accident and the injuries you’ve sustained, and, as such, should be the one to pay for it all. The sad fact is, the odds of that happening, especially in any kind of smooth or timely fashion, are heavily against you—the victim. This worst-case yet absolutely plausible scenario illustrates why uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage, and enough of it, should be part of every driver’s auto policy.
What is it?
Uninsured/underinsured motorist (often abbreviated as UM/UIM) coverage is designed to protect you in a situation like the hypothetical one above. When the driver who caused an accident is either uninsured or does not carry enough insurance to cover your medical bills, lost wages and the like, your own UM/UIM coverage would come into play. If you don’t have sufficient UM/UIM coverage, it’s you, the injured, who likely will end up stuck with these expenses, and not compensated for your pain and suffering—hit once again.
Again, no question, the other person “should have to pay,” and in a perfect world, that would happen. You are free to take that driver to court, pursue seizure of his or her assets, garner his or her wages, and go to the ends of the earth to try and make it happen; eventually, after making both of your lives miserable for months or years, you may even recover something. Alternatively, you could make sure you have the right coverage in place to begin with.
Believe me (and every other legal expert) when I say, you want the alternative. As a driver, you need to look out for yourself, and when it comes to financial protection, sufficient UM/UIM coverage is the only realistic way to do it.
First, a quick difference between uninsured and underinsured. An uninsured motorist is one who does not have liability insurance. Though this is illegal (and thus a whole other story for that unwise driver), the financial problem would still become yours, as described above. Underinsured means the driver carries the minimum liability coverage—$20,000 in Massachusetts.
Unfortunately, this minimum is exactly what most drivers carry, making underinsurance likely for both parties in a Massachusetts auto accident. For your own protection, most law professionals recommend carrying at least $100,000 per person for bodily injuries sustained; $250,000 is even smarter, if possible. The minimal amount that UM/UIM coverage adds to your auto premium would pay off beyond measure if and when the time comes to use it.
In a world where there’s so much you can neither predict nor control, take advance actions on the things you can. Remember, next to your family, there’s nothing wrong with looking out for number one; in fact, you’re the best one for the job.