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The Importance of Uninsured/Underinsured Motorists Coverage

By October 23, 2019 No Comments

Recently, I was scrolling through my Facebook feed when I came across a photo my friend Jane had posted. In the photo, Jane is dressed in a blue hospital gown, sitting on a hospital bed. She is wearing a cast on her arm. On either side of Jane are her teenage children with their arms wrapped around their mom. Although Jane does look a bit disheveled, all three of them are broadly grinning for the photo.

Having not heard that Jane had been in an accident, I started to read the comments to her post, hoping to learn what had happened. There were over eighty of them –friends, family and colleagues sending their love and well wishes. Sorting through them, I figured out Jane had been in some type of car accident – maybe she had been hit by a car?

The next day, I reached out to Jane, just to check in and to see if she needed anything. Jane confirmed that she had in fact been hit by a car. She had been walking along the sidewalk when a car hopped the curb and struck her, throwing her to the ground. She had broken her arm and torn a ligament in her knee. She had already had surgery on her arm and was being sent to a specialist for her knee.

After telling her how glad I was she was not hurt any worse, I asked Jane whether she had filed a claim with the driver’s insurance company. She told me she had, but they weren’t being very responsive and were giving her the run around. She laughed that she might have to hire me to go after them. Laughing with her, I told Jane she didn’t need to hire me, she just needed to make a claim with her own car insurance company, who owes her a duty to promptly figure out what it owes her. Sounding surprised at my suggestion, Jane said, “But I wasn’t at fault! And, besides, I wasn’t driving when this happened, I was walking down the street.”

In response, I asked Jane if she had Uninsured/Underinsured Motorists coverage, called UM, on her auto policy. Without hesitation, she told me she did and that she had chosen the highest limits available. She also gave me her understanding of UM coverage – that it pays you when another driver is at fault for hurting you in a car wreck but doesn’t have any insurance or doesn’t have enough insurance to pay you for the harm they have caused.

Seeing that Jane had a good understanding of UM and why someone would want it, I explained to her that UM coverage doesn’t just apply when you are the driver or passenger of a car you own. Instead, UM coverage kind of follows you around like health insurance does. So, you can be driving or riding in someone else’s car and your own UM policy will cover you. You can be sitting on your front porch, riding your bike, or simply walking down the street and your UM coverage will apply. The key is whether you are hurt by someone negligently driving their car. If so, your UM coverage applies. Excited at learning this, Jane told me she would be calling her insurance company immediately.

A month or so later, I followed up with Jane to see how she was doing. She told me she was feeling much better and had started physical therapy. Jane then thanked me for telling her she should make a UM claim. She said that when she did, her insurance company immediately took over and started taking care of things. Hanging up from Jane, I smiled – her insurance company was doing exactly what she had paid it to do. Nothing makes me happier.

 

 

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