Uninsured Motorist and Underinsured Motorist: When Am I Covered?
If you are injured in a vehicle accident that is clearly the fault of another driver, you may expect that the driver’s insurance will pay for your medical expenses, property damage and time off work. Although Illinois law requires all drivers to carry liability insurance, many drivers do not follow the law and cancel their insurance shortly after they register their cars with the Department of Motor Vehicles.
In fact, the Insurance Research Council (IRC) estimates that 12.6 percent of U.S. drivers are uninsured. The rate varies by state. An alarming 26 percent of Oklahoma drivers are insured, while 13.3 percent of Illinois drivers opt to drive their vehicles on public roadways without any insurance. Another category of drivers have insurance, but they have the minimum required which may not be enough to pay for your damages.
In order to add protection to responsible drivers, Illinois requires drivers, in addition to their basic car insurance, to also have at least a minimum amount of uninsured motorist (UM) insurance coverage, and to add underinsured motorist (UIM) insurance to their policies. The terms are self-explanatory: Uninsured motorist coverage means you can collect from your own policy if you are injured in an accident with a driver who has no insurance. Underinsured means you have coverage in the event you have an accident with a driver who has insurance, but not enough to cover all of your damages.
What You Need to Know About UM and UIM and When You Are Covered
Important factors you need to remember about your UM and UIM policy provisions include, but are not limited to:
- The policies do not cover you if the accident was your fault. They only provide coverage if the UM or UIM driver was negligent and is the driver who is at fault for the accident.
- If you were using your vehicle for business purposes at the time of the accident, like transporting people or goods for pay, your UM and UIM policy may not provide coverage.
- If the accident was a hit-and-run, most policies require that you file a police report in order to collect damages from your UM policy.
- You are covered if you were the driver or passenger in the car that was not at fault for the accident.
- A person to whom you have given permission to drive your car is covered as well as the passengers in that car.
- Your policy provides coverage for all of your family members who live at home.
- Your minor children are covered no matter where they live.
- Your college age children are generally covered when they are living away from home to attend school.
- If you or your family members are injured when a bicyclist, pedestrian, motorcyclist or bystander, your UM or UIM policy will provide coverage.
- You must file your claim for damages within a certain time, generally two years, after the accident.
What Is My Case Worth?
When you or a loved one is lying in a hospital bed as the result of the acts of a negligent driver, accumulating medical bills and losing wages due to time off work, you naturally wonder what the case is worth. There is no set formula and each case depends on the actual monetary loss you suffer. You should be able to collect for:
- Your medical expenses, both current and any expenses you are expected to incur in the future due to your injury.
- Lost wages, including for the current time of work and wages you are expected to lose in the future as a result of your injury.
- All rehabilitation costs.
- Costs of retraining if you are injured so severely you are unable to return to your regular occupation.
- Travel costs incurred when you have to receive treatment away from your home.
- Pain and suffering.
Any other costs you incur related to the accident.
A Personal Injury Attorney Can Help
If you or a family member were injured in an accident with an uninsured or underinsured motorist who was at fault, contact us at the Blumenshine Law Group for a free consultation. We will review the facts of your case and pursue compensation for you under the terms of your own UM/UIM insurance policy. You can download our free eBook “Uninsured, Hit-and Run, and Underinsured Motorist Coverage in Illinois” for more information.