A Few Extra Dollars Now; Priceless Later
(How Uninsured Motorist Coverage and Under-insured Motorist Coverage Protects You and Your Family, in Maryland.)
By: Marisa A. Wise and Justin Katz
Like many areas in life, we do not anticipate the worst occurring. Over my many years of experience in Personal Injury, I have encountered a very wide array of injured clients. Some of their cases involve soft tissue injuries, such as neck or back sprains. Some clients have experienced more serious injuries, such as concussions, disc bulges, broken bones, disc herniations, and even spinal injuries.
The very sad truth is that regardless of the severity of the injuries, the defendants’ bodily insurance coverage is sometimes insufficient to cover the victim’s losses. For instance, in Maryland, the required minimum bodily injury coverage (liability coverage) for an auto policy is $30,000/$60,000. This means that, in such a case, if one is hurt in an accident by a tortfeasor who has a minimum liability policy, the injury victim making an injury claim against the defendant’s insurance policy, can, in most cases, receive no more than $30,000 from that insurance. In this same example, the maximum that the defendant’s policy could pay out, if a second passenger were injured, for example, would be limited to $60,000 total.
The bottom line is that if a victim’s injuries were minor, the at-fault driver’s minimum limits may be sufficient to cover the victim’s losses. However, if the injuries are serious, the coverage is not likely to be sufficient.
To help protect yourself in these circumstances, you can purchase Underinsured Motorist (UIM) coverage on your own auto insurance policy. If you carry higher injury limits than the state minimum on your own policy; then, you or your lawyer will be able to claim additional coverage through own insurance to cover the shortfall. For example, using the same MD minimal example of a $30,000/$60,000 policy carried by the ‘at-fault” driver; if you simultaneously carried higher injury limits on your policy, say $100,000/$300,000 UIM, then you could potentially claim and recover through your insurance an amount beyond the at-fault driver’s limits. The way this works, again using the above example, is as follows;
In a serious injury case, involving a $30,000 minimum liability policy and a $100,000 UM/UIM policy, we might be able to collect the $30,000 limit from the defendant’s insurance policy as well as make a claim through your insurance for an additional $70,000 ($30,000+ $70,000=$100,000). The UM/UIM carrier generally gets a credit against the available liability limits against their policy.
As you can see, having this additional coverage, provides protection for significant medical bill debt, expenses, and/or will provide compensation for pain and suffering above and beyond a tortfeasor’s minimal insurance coverage.
While it is true that it may cost more on your monthly premium, to carry limits that are higher than the state minim, it is also true that if you are involved in a severe accident, you would likely be able to avail yourself of additional coverage through your own insurance. The fact of the matter of life is unpredictable. You cannot control how other people drive on the road; however, you do have the control of protecting yourself and your family from an immense financial burden that could be the result of another person’s negligence. The difference of adding a couple extra dollars a month for more coverage, could end up being priceless. If you have been in a bad accident in Maryland, Virginia, or Washington D.C., and need help navigating an underinsured motorist claim, (or even an uninsured motorist claim), with your insurance company, please give us a call to see how we can help you. We do not charge for consultations and there is no obligation on your part to pursue legal action.