Hitting an Uninsured or Underinsured Driver: What’s Next?

Getting into an accident is stressful enough on its own, but add an uninsured driver to the mix and things get even trickier. In most states, it is illegal to drive without auto insurance. Unfortunately, people choose to break this law every day. In the United States, about 1 in 8 drivers on the road is uninsured. If you were to get into an accident with an uninsured motorist, would you know what to expect? Let us help you get up to speed.

No-Fault States vs. Tort States
Most states in the U.S. are tort states. In a tort state, the car insurance company of the at-fault driver will pay for others’ damages and medical expenses related to the collision.  A few states, including Massachusetts, are no-fault. This means that the driver’s insurance company pays for the collision regardless of who is at-fault up to the limits of their policy. Now, what happens if the other driver was at-fault and does not have insurance?  You’re in a jam. Typically, if the other driver caused the accident their car insurance would pay for it. However, because they don’t have car insurance, your damages are not covered. Thankfully, there are a couple of measures you can take to recoup your damages.

Suing the Uninsured Driver
An uninsured driver is liable for any damages he or she caused. Typically, the other driver’s car insurance would cover this liability. If the driver does not have insurance, however, then he or she will need to cover this liability out of pocket. The truth is, most drivers who forgo auto insurance are doing so out of necessity. They can’t afford it, and are unlikely to have a lot of assets. If they can’t afford auto insurance, then they definitely can’t afford costly medical expenses and damages from an accident they caused. Of course, you have the option of suing, but even if you win the lawsuit it’s still unlikely that you’ll ever fully recover damages. There’s only one way sure-fire way to protect yourself from this situation: you can add uninsured or under-insured motorist coverage to your policy.

Uninsured/Under-insured Motorist Coverage
All major car insurance companies offer uninsured or under-insured motorist coverage. With this coverage, you exchange added cost for added protection: if you get into an accident with an uninsured or under-insured driver, damages and medical expenses will be covered up to the limits of your policy. Some states require you to have uninsured or under-insured motorist coverage. In other states, this coverage is optional.

As previously stated,  despite it being illegal to drive without auto insurance in most states, people break this law every day. If you get into an accident, there is a good possibility that a driver will be without auto insurance.  If you live in a no-fault state, you have less to worry about: uninsured or not,  at fault or not, you’re covered. If you live in a tort state, however, then you will only be covered if you have uninsured or under-insured motorist coverage. In Massachusetts, drivers are required to purchase uninsured motorist (UM) coverage to protect against hit-and-run drivers and those with no insurance, but state law does not mandate the purchase of UIM coverage to protect against drivers who don’t have enough liability insurance. For optimal protection, you want to have both.

Let’s talk. Gives us a call at 617-924-5600, today!

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