Texas requires all motorists to maintain minimum liability insurance to lawfully operate a motor vehicle in the state. This insurance protects other drivers if you are ultimately responsible for an accident. When other drivers fail to carry the appropriate amount of insurance, you might be forced to deal with your damages on your own.
The good news is various types of insurance could provide you with benefits after an accident with an uninsured or underinsured driver. Uninsured motorist coverage provides compensation when you cannot rely on the other driver’s liability policy. Keep reading to learn more about uninsured and underinsured motorist coverage in Texas.
What Is Uninsured Motorist Coverage?
Uninsured motorist coverage (UM) is an insurance policy separate from the liability coverage the state mandates. It would pay for your damages resulting from a car accident if the other driver lacked any liability insurance.
If an uninsured driver strikes your vehicle, your UM benefits could replace the compensation you would normally recover from the other party’s liability policy. You could recover damages up to policy limits when you file your claim.
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What Is Underinsured Motorist Coverage?
Underinsured motorist coverage (UIM) is part of a UM policy. While uninsured drivers lack liability coverage, underinsured drivers don’t have enough to cover the damage they have caused in a given accident. Still, underinsured drivers are often in compliance with state minimum levels of coverage. However, the minimum liability coverage the state requires often falls below the full cost of motor vehicle accident damages.
If you are involved in an accident with an underinsured driver, your UM/UIM policy could still come into play. These policies apply any time the other driver lacks the coverage to pay for all your damages in an accident. It could bridge the gap between what you pay out of pocket and what the at-fault driver’s insurance policy covers.
Does Texas Law Require UM/UIM Coverage?
No. The only auto insurance state law requires is liability coverage. All motorists must carry 30/60/25 coverage, which breaks down to:
- $30,000 of coverage for injuries per person
- Up to $60,000 per accident for bodily injury claims
- $25,000 of coverage for property damage claims
While UM/UIM coverage might not be mandatory, your auto insurance company must provide it as an option when you purchase your liability coverage. Whether you waive your UM/UIM coverage is up to you. If you waive it, you must do so in writing.
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What Damages Does a UM/UIM Policy Cover?
UM/UIM covers many of the same damages as liability insurance. Primarily, this insurance coverage provides you with benefits to pay for your past and future medical care expenses. Your UM/UIM policy could also go toward the cost of replacing or repairing your car after a crash with a negligent driver.
Additionally, UM/UIM insurance can cover:
- Your passenger’s accident-related medical bills
- Rental car fees you might pay while you wait for your vehicle to be repaired or replaced
- Your pain and suffering expenses
- Damaged property that was inside your vehicle at the time of the accident
It is important to remember that the policyholder is not the only party who can file a UM/UIM claim. If a driver with UM/UIM coverage is in an accident with an uninsured motorist, the other passengers could also file a claim. This is true for your passengers, family members, or anyone driving your vehicle with your permission.
Do I Need UM/UIM Coverage?
It is up to you to purchase uninsured and underinsured motorist coverage. Although, it helps to know the risks of driving in Texas. According to the Insurance Information Institute (III), 8.3 percent of all drivers across the state lack any liability insurance.
Given the prevalence of uninsured motorists, the risk of getting into an accident when the other driver lacks adequate coverage is high. A UM/UIM policy removes the risk of having minimal or no avenues for compensation after a car accident. As a result, purchasing this insurance could give you peace of mind every time you get behind the wheel.
UM/UIM Coverage Can Help If A Hit-and-Run Driver Strikes You
When you travel on the roads throughout Texas, there’s always a chance a driver could hit your vehicle and flee. It is against the law for people involved in accidents to leave the scene, but this does not deter people from breaking the law.
Law enforcement might be able to locate the fleeing driver, but whether they do or don’t, you need your losses covered, and underinsured and underinsured motorist coverage could help with that. Hit-and-run drivers fall into the “uninsured motorists” category. If you get into this kind of accident, make sure you report the situation to the police. If you don’t report it, you risk your insurance company denying your UM/UIM claim, even if you opted into this coverage.
Per the Texas Department of Insurance (TDI), someone gets into a hit-and-run accident every 43 seconds, so it recommends that motorists consider talking to a car insurance company to find out how much UM/UIM coverage would cost. Your insurer can also advise you on how much coverage you would need. Such a policy would cover repairs you need after a hit-and-run accident.
Keep in Mind That Car Accidents Can Result in Thousands of Dollars
The risk of colliding with an underinsured driver could be higher than you might think. The cost of accidents is already significant, with even minor collisions resulting in thousands of dollars in medical and car repair bills.
The need for UM/UIM coverage could become clear in accidents with multiple vehicles. With numerous injured parties involved, even high-limit policies could run out of coverage. UM/UIM benefits could protect a driver in these accidents, too.
Should You Hire an Attorney to Help With an Uninsured or Underinsured Claim?
Even though your insurance company should cover your damages after an auto accident, you could face challenges when filing your claim with an insurer, whether yours or the other driver’s.
Insurance companies can investigate your claim and try to deny your claim or minimize your damages to reduce your potential payout. They may even hold you solely liable for a collision. You could also run into challenges if the motor vehicle accident involves multiple parties. One party’s insurance company may say another insurer’s policyholder caused the accident.
Hiring a personal injury lawyer can protect your rights and interests while helping you sort out these matters so that you can recover compensation for your losses. A personal injury lawyer can help you prove negligence and liability in the accident, document your accident-related damages, and work on your behalf for a fair monetary settlement that helps you move forward.
See a Dallas Car Accident Attorney at Our Firm About Your UM/UIM Claim Today
Uninsured and underinsured motorist coverage may be helpful after getting hurt in a car accident in Texas. Even if the other driver lacks liability coverage, you could still hold them financially responsible for the accident. There might also be other responsible parties that share the blame that could be liable for your damages.
The car accident attorneys from Loncar Lyon Jenkins will help you pursue every avenue during your car accident injury claim. Our team has a history of success, and we proudlu advocate for those who need help after an accident. Call in the Strong Arm right away for your free, no-obligation consultation.