Every time you hop in the car, you assume the risk of sharing the road with other drivers. As much as you might want to believe that everyone follows the rules, the reality is there are many reckless drivers out there. Some are even willing to get behind the wheel without proper coverage. If one of these drivers gets into an accident, it can have dire consequences for everyone involved. That’s where uninsured and underinsured motorist coverage comes in.
Car insurance covers several aspects of an accident or other incident. The types of coverage include bodily injury and property damage, comprehensive and collision, personal injury protection, and medical payments coverage. There’s also uninsured motorist (UM) and underinsured motorist (UIM) coverage. These are crucial if you get in an accident with someone who either lacks insurance or has inadequate coverage.
Here’s how it works: if an uninsured or underinsured motorist causes an accident, UM/UIM coverage comes to your rescue, covering bodily injury and property damage up to the limits listed in your insurance policy. Say you have uninsured motorist coverage of $15,000/$30,000/$5,000. This means your per-person bodily injury liability limit is $15,000; your per-accident bodily injury liability limit is $30,000; and your per-accident property damage liability limit is $5,000.
Underinsured motorist coverage is a little more complicated. Let’s say a driver with $15,000/$30,000/$5,000 coverage collides with you, and you end up with $30,000 in medical bills. The first figure—$15,000—is not enough to cover your costs. If your UIM coverage matches the other driver’s coverage, you won’t get anything extra. But if your UIM limits are higher—say $30,000/$60,000/$10,000—then your policy would handle the additional expenses.
Each state sets specific car insurance requirements. Here’s a breakdown of New Jersey’s mandatory coverage amounts:
To ensure legal coverage, insurance providers in New Jersey must offer UM/UIM coverage in the state-required amounts. If drivers decide to forgo this coverage, they must submit a signed waiver. As a result, most drivers in the state have this vital coverage, even if they don’t know it.
Driving uninsured is illegal, so many people mistakenly believe that an at-fault driver will always have enough insurance. However, in 2019, 12.6 percent of drivers nationwide lacked adequate insurance. This means if you get in an accident, you have more than a one-in-10 chance of colliding with an uninsured driver. So, if you think you can’t afford UM/UIM coverage, consider how much harder it would be to afford an accident with an uninsured or underinsured driver.
At Gelman Gelman Wiskow & McCarthy, LLC, we combine 70+ years of experience with trustworthiness and a passion for the law. If you’ve been in a crash, whether the other driver was insured or not, our car accident lawyers can help you get the compensation you deserve. Call us today at 862-263-0770 to book your free, one-hour consultation at any of our five New Jersey offices.