The experience of a car accident is bad enough, but being in a car accident when you’re not at fault and the other driver doesn’t have insurance is a borderline nightmare scenario. It doesn’t matter that the law requires all vehicles to be insured before registration. The Insurance Research Council estimates 1 in 8 drivers nationally have no auto insurance when they hit the road. Out of 247 million drivers on American roadways, 32 million of them are driving without insurance. By the numbers, on average, across the United States, there is a 13% chance the person who hits you has no insurance.
In Maine, the uninsured numbers are bad but not as bad—only 4.5% of drivers have no insurance. That, however, does not factor in the number of underinsured motorists on the road (a number that is elusive). Suffice it to say that whether you’re heading to the grocery store or ‘upta’ camp, there is a good percentage of drivers who are at risk and vulnerable to uninsured and underinsured drivers. Here’s what you need to know to ensure you are fully covered when on the road.
First, there is Uninsured and Underinsured motorists liability coverage as part of every car insurance policy in Maine. Known as UM liability insurance, it applies to those injured by an at-fault driver who has no auto liability insurance at all but also who is underinsured.
Sure, You Have Insurance, But Do You Have Enough?
In Maine, as in most states, car insurance is mandatory for registered vehicles. Maine’s financial responsibility law requires all vehicles to have proof of a minimum amount of car insurance before the vehicle can be registered. In other words, there is a minimum amount of liability insurance operators of vehicles must have before legally driving their cars. Often cited on insurance policies as $50/100/25, it means that coverage will settle up to $50,000 liability if someone is hurt or killed, a $100,000 liability for one accident resulting in the same, and $25,000 liability toward any property damage, i.e., your car. The law also allows a combined minimum bodily injury and property damage liability cap, referred to as a single limit, of $125,000.
The reality is, if you or any of your passengers are seriously injured and your car is damaged, that $50/100/25 is not enough to cover the medical costs or the replacement of your car. If your car is a late model or even a couple of years old, $25,000 will not replace it. Where merited, UM liability provides coverage for several circumstances when an at-fault driver is uninsured or underinsured. A car may have been stolen or taken without permission. The insurance policy may have expired without renewal, or the policy could have been canceled due to falling behind on the premium payments. It could be a classic hit-and-run or, perhaps even more likely, that $50/100/25 is simply not enough to cover all the damages.
In all of these circumstances, UM liability is designed to cover you and any other passengers who sustain injuries in an accident. UM will not cover the injuries of the at-fault driver. Nor will it cover property damage, whether it’s your car or a half-dozen mailboxes. UM provides the necessary coverage for you and your passengers’ personal injury recovery had the at-fault driver been adequately insured in the first place. To ensure the coverage for property damage can replace your car, make sure you carry an adequate amount of collision insurance.
In short, when hurt, the injuries and like-damages to you and any passengers not covered by an uninsured or underinsured at-fault driver will be paid for by your insurance carrier under the UM part of your car insurance policy. Your insurance provider pays the difference and cannot increase your premiums because of it.
Get A Free Consultation
If you are in a car accident and the at-fault driver is uninsured or underinsured, and your insurance provider is giving you the runaround, contact Maine’s trusted car accident lawyers at Hardy, Wolf & Downing for a free consultation. They will help you resolve any UM liability issue or, when necessary, file a UM liability claim on your behalf to ensure you get the compensation you deserve.