All states, except New Hampshire, require liability insurance as part of your auto insurance coverage. It is considered good policy, because if you cause an accident, the person you hit should be able to recoup their expenses from you.
But the high cost of auto insurance forces some drivers to forego even basic liability coverage. They're out there driving, and have no means to pay for any damage they would do to your vehicle! The Insurance Research Council estimates that about one out of every six drivers is driving without any insurance coverage. That's 16 percent of the U.S. population!
Protect Yourself From Irresponsible Drivers
This is where UM/UIM coverage can really help. This coverage pays for your injuries when someone without insurance causes the accident or when you're hit by a hit-and-run driver. UM/UIM coverage also pays off when someone else causes the accident, but doesn't have ENOUGH insurance to cover your costs. UM/UIM will also help if you're injured and forced to miss work by paying your lost wages.
If you are in an accident which is cause by an uninsured motorist and you don't have UM/UIM coverage, your health insurance will generally pay for your medical bills related to that accident. That can be very expensive, however. If you have UM/UIM coverage, it will pay for the medical expenses until your limits are reached, then your health insurance will kick in to cover the amount over that.
But health insurance won't pay a dime for lost wages if you're injured and miss work, or for pain and suffering from the crash. That is paid by the at-fault driver's liability insurance, but if he or she doesn't have any liability coverage or it is insufficient, you're out of luck unless you go to court and try to recover the costs. However, if you have UM/UIM coverage, it will reimburse you for the lost wages and any pain and suffering that is caused by the accident.
Save on Deductibles
As in all auto insurance policies, there are deductibles. If you obtain the at-fault driver's information, your deductible would be $100. Then your insurance company can go after them for reimbursement of damages. In addition, if they can recover the full amount of what they paid out to you for fixing your car, then they will give you your $100 back. If, however, you are involved in a hit-and-run, or a "phantom" type vehicle collision and there's no driver to go after, then the deductible is $300. This is another benefit of UM/UIM coverage, since a regular collision deductible is at least $500.
'Stacked' Coverage in Washington
What makes Washington an even better place to have UM/UIM coverage than, say, Oregon, is that the customer gets the coverage they pay for. For instance, if a Washington citizen buys $100,000 of UM/UIM coverage, they get up to an additional $100,000 of insurance benefits, above and beyond whatever amount of coverage the at-fault driver may have. This is called "stacking" -- the UM/UIM policy "stacks" on top of the at-fault driver's coverage. In other states, such as Oregon, if someone buys $100,000 of UM/UIM coverage, they may not get some or all of that coverage if they are hit by another driver. It depends on the amount of insurance carried by the at-fault driver. For example, if the at-fault driver carried $25,000 of liability coverage, the Oregon $100,000 UM/UIM policy would only pay a maximum of $75,000. If the negligent driver had $100,000 worth of coverage, the Oregon UM/UIM policy would pay nothing. That policy in Washington would pay up to an additional $100,000, or $200,000 total!
Regardless of what state you're in, UM/UIM insurance is very important. It protects you and your family from huge medical expenses, lost wages, and pain and suffering costs if you are involved in an accident caused by a negligent driver. And for less than a dollar a day, it is an incredible bargain! Without it, you're either at the mercy of the other driver's coverage or looking for a lawyer and a lawsuit. Which would you rather have?
For more information on Uninsured/Underinsured Motorist coverage, please contact us toll-free at 888-867-2866, or contact your SAV-ON Insurance agent.