We take to the roads trusting that other drivers will have insurance. But that’s not always the case. You can well imagine the protocol as it’s supposed to happen after an accident: get medical attention for any injuries, file a police report, and exchange insurance information with other motorists involved. What happens if that last step can’t be followed because the driver has no insurance, or a policy that simply doesn’t cover all of the damages that occurred? So quickly, an already a stressful time just became even more worrisome.

This is a good time to call for help. Bill Coats, a personal injury lawyer in Bellingham, knows how to work with insurance companies, even in cases where there is no insurance or too little to cover damages from the at-fault driver. Call him today if you have been involved in this kind of accident, or know someone who has.

What is UM/UIM Coverage?

By law in Washington State, you can buy uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage from your insurance company – they must make this option available to you. This coverage is intended to protect you from holding the bag if you get into an accident with an at-fault driver who doesn’t have insurance, or not enough to cover all losses. How this works is easily shown: for example, if your injury claim is worth $100,000 but the liable driver only has the mandatory minimum limits of $25,000, you can quickly see there’s a significant gap. If you have included UM/UIM coverage in your policy, then your insurer may award you the difference of $75,000 – if that amount doesn’t exceed your policy’s limits. If it does, you may have to pay the difference, which can be costly.

When Does UM Coverage Apply?

Generally speaking, if you’ve opted to include UM coverage, your insurer will pay for the following:

  • If you’re the driver or passenger in your own vehicle, and are hurt while you’re driving or riding along, or if you are in someone else’s vehicle and you’re injured, you’re covered. The amount awarded will depend on what medical expenses were and the limits of your particular policy.
  • The injuries of a relative or someone named on your policy who is allowed to drive your vehicle.
  • Any passenger in a vehicle you don’t own but are driving.

What are the Limits of UM Coverage?

The following factors can affect what your insurer will pay out of your UM coverage:

  • If you’re in a hit and run accident, some policies require you to report the accident to the police within 24 hours. Others may cover you only if you’re able to identify the party, which may be out of your hands.
  • What happens if you’re hurt at work? Your UM compensation will be reduced by disability payments including workers’ comp.
  • If your insurer provides you with payments under medical payments coverage, your UM payments will be reduced by the amount of medical payments you receive.

As you can see, these scenarios can quickly become complicated. It’s best to talk to your lawyer before you speak with the insurance company about claims that fall under the UM category. Sound advice from someone who knows the ins and outs is essential in these situations. If it’s the only way to ensure you get the maximum amount available, wouldn’t you? To learn more, or if you have been in a collision with an uninsured or underinsured driver, call Bill Coats Law today. 

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