If you were injured in a crash and the at-fault driver has no insurance coverage or not enough insurance to compensate you, your uninsured motorist (UM) and underinsured motorist (UIM) coverage is there to protect you. Jon Ostroff answers a few common questions about UM/UIM vehicle insurance and what it means for injured crash victims. He also gives a few tips for those shopping for insurance coverage.
What is UM & UIM
UM stands for uninsured motorist. UIM stands for underinsured motorist. UM applies when there’s no insurance on the vehicle at fault, on the driver at fault. Underinsured motorist applies when the driver at fault isn’t carrying enough insurance to fully compensate you for your injuries.
These are two critical benefits and I want you to consider not just UM and UIM if you’ve been injured but also when you buy your insurance. This is one of the cheapest benefits you can buy and one of the most important benefits you can have because it protects you from either one of these events. There’s a lot of uninsured drivers and under insured drivers for seriously injured victims. Make sure you have it on your own insurance.
UM and UIM come into play after you’ve recovered from the party at fault if there’s UIM or if there is no insurance for UM. So, if the value of your case, just to give you an example, is $50,000 and the driver at fault only as $15,000 you can go to your UIM, your under insured motorist for the balance of the value of your claim. If you have multiple cars in your household look to see whether you have stacking.
Buy stacking if you’re buying insurance. Stacking allows you to multiply the amount of UIM or UM you have by the number of cars in your house. So, if you have stacking and you have your child and your spouse living in your house and they each have cars and you have stacking that’s three times the amount of UIM or UM that’s on your policy.
How to Protect Yourself
Buy as much as you can afford. Again, this is one of the most important coverages you can purchase. Finally, if you reach a settlement with the party at fault there’s certain steps that you must go through to make sure that you don’t jeopardize your entitlement to UM or UIM. It’s called consent to settlement. There’s several notice requirements and several steps you have to go through to make sure that you don’t jeopardize what might be much more insurance that’s available to you then on the car at fault.
This is one of the many things that we do for our clients and oftentimes by the way UM and UIM, what they think they have, they actually have more because the form wasn’t completed properly by the insurer or the agent. And we can actually get more than you think you have. This is just one of the many ways that we obtain more recoveries, more in recoveries for our clients than they expect much more oftentimes than the car at fault has.