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How does uninsured motorist insurance work?

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What happens when you have been injured in a car accident involving another driver who had no insurance?

This is a frightening position to be in. And unfortunately, it is a common scenario. In Ohio, all drivers are required to have auto insurance, but not all do.

Fortunately, most insured drivers are covered by their own auto insurance policies if they are involved in an auto accident with an uninsured motorist.

But how does this insurance coverage work? Let's get into the details.

Understanding Auto Insurance Coverage

Auto insurance can be confusing, and most people are unaware of exactly what kind of coverage they have. It is important to understand what is covered by most auto insurance policies.

Most auto insurance policies contain:

  • Liability coverage: This type of coverage applies to car accidents in which the driver is responsible. It typically covers damage to the other person's car and any bodily injury.
  • Collision coverage: This type of coverage applies to damage to your own vehicle, whether your vehicle is damaged or totaled. Depending on your coverage and the amount of damage to your vehicle, collision may cover the cost of a new car.
  • Comprehensive coverage: When a car is damaged by forces of nature (wind, hail, etc.), when a car is stolen, when something falls on a car or when a vehicle is otherwise damaged by something other than a collision, comprehensive coverage applies.
  • Personal injury protection (PIP): In Ohio, PIP insurance is optional. This coverage applies no matter who is at fault. PIP insurance covers injuries, lost wages and other expenses.
  • Uninsured and underinsured motorist protection (UM/UIM): This coverage applies in situations where the other driver had either no car insurance or less than what is required to cover damage in an accident.

What Does Uninsured/Underinsured Motorist Insurance Cover?

Uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage applies in:

  • Accidents involving drivers with no auto insurance
  • Accidents involving drivers with minimal insurance or less than what is required to cover the cost of the accident

UM/UIM coverage also applies in hit-and-run accidents in which the identity of the driver is unknown.

What exactly does UM/UIM insurance cover? Most policies cover:

  • Medical bills for driver and passengers
  • Pain and suffering for driver and passengers
  • Lost wages for driver and passengers

Policies may vary, so it is important to review your insurance documents carefully. In Ohio, uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage is not required by law, but insurers are required to offer this coverage to consumers.

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How Big Of A Problem Are Uninsured Drivers?

According to a 2010 article in the Columbus Dispatch (using data from the State Highway Patrol), more than 8,700 car accidents in 2010 were caused by uninsured motorists. According to the Insurance Research Council, 12.6 percent of drivers nationwide were uninsured in 2014.

According to those statistics, uninsured drivers are at a higher risk for causing car accidents than drivers with insurance.

Being Prepared

What can you do to avoid the problems associated with an uninsured or underinsured motorist accident?

Unfortunately, aside from practicing defensive driving and playing it safe on the road, there is little you can do to avoid these accidents altogether.

However, you can be prepared for the insurance side of things if you ever are involved in an accident with an uninsured or underinsured driver. As stated earlier, most insurance policies include this coverage. But it is advisable to review your policy carefully or discuss it with your insurance agent.

Injured By An Uninsured Driver?

If you have been injured in a car accident involving an uninsured or underinsured driver - or if you have been involved in a hit-and-run accident - it is advisable to discuss your legal options with a personal injury lawyer.

The Donahey Law Firm, LLC, represents clients throughout Ohio who have been injured in car accidents. If you wish to speak with a personal injury lawyer in a no-cost consultation, please complete our online contact form. We can help you seek compensation to cover all expenses associated with your UM/UIM accident.

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