If a driver with no car insurance hits you, or a hit and run driver flees the scene, you naturally will have questions about how uninsured or underinsured motorist coverage (UM/UIM) works in Texas. In brief:
- Both uninsured and underinsured motorist coverage are available to all drivers, but Texas law does not require it.
- Uninsured motorist coverage helps pay bills if a driver hits you who didn’t carry auto insurance.
- Underinsured motorist coverage helps pay bills when the at-fault driver’s policy limits don’t cover the total cost of your damages.
You can ask your insurance agent or a Dallas truck accident lawyer to help you better understand what your policy covers and what rights you have
What Uninsured Motorist Coverage Is Available in Texas?
The Texas Department of Insurance (TDI) explains that Texas does not require drivers to purchase UM/UIM coverage. However, it is a good idea to buy this insurance because:
- Not every driver carries the required amount of insurance. Thus, you could get stuck paying your losses out of pocket if the at-fault party does not have the means to reimburse you.
- UM/UIM coverage will pay for more than your collision policy, including pain and suffering.
- You could also rely on UM/UIM coverage if you are the victim of a hit-and-run crash, and the police cannot find the liable party.
Your insurance agent or attorney can explain more about uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage or answer other questions about your policy.
What Car Insurance Does Texas Require You to Purchase?
According to Texas Transportation Code § 601.072, the only auto insurance coverage you must purchase in Texas is liability coverage with these minimums:
- $30,000 to cover another person’s bodily injury
- $60,000 to cover all bodily injury
- $25,000 to cover property damage
Liability coverage will help you pay for any injuries or damage you cause someone else to suffer in a car crash. All other types of coverage, including UM/UIM coverage, are optional.
How Can You Purchase Uninsured Motorist Coverage?
When you initially purchase your policy, your insurance agent must offer UM/UIM coverage. In addition, you must refuse it in writing. If you later change your mind and want to add this coverage to your policy, contact your insurance company. You could also contact an attorney for a second opinion on this coverage.
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How to File a Claim With Your Uninsured/Underinsured Motorist Coverage
After a car accident, one of the first things you should do is get the other driver’s name, contact information, and insurance information. Collecting this data could make it simpler to recover financial compensation later.
However, if the other driver has insufficient insurance or fled the scene before you could speak to them, you might have to rely on your UM/UIM coverage for compensation. Given how this coverage works in Texas, you can start your claim by:
- Contacting your insurance company as soon as possible, regardless of who was at fault.
- Providing your insurer with the information they request (you will likely have to fill out a form).
- Allowing the insurer to send an adjuster to take pictures of your car, visit the accident scene, and ask more questions about what happened.
Watch what you say to the insurer—it is often reluctant to pay more than necessary and will look for any reason to minimize a settlement. Instead of speaking to your insurer by yourself, you can consult a personal injury lawyer first and let them help you figure out what to say.
How Will Your Insurer Respond to Your Uninsured Motorist Claim?
If your insurer decides you have sufficient evidence to prove your case, it will approve your claim and send you a check. This is a best-case scenario.
Sometimes, an insurance company will initially deny your claim by stating:
- Your policy does not cover the type of injuries or crash you suffered.
- You did not provide enough evidence to prove your claim.
- Something besides the car accident caused the injuries you included in your insurance claim.
The insurer may also approve part of your claim while denying other components based on these same grounds. However, your car accident attorney can assist you in fighting an insurance company’s claim denial. They can work with the insurer to determine the reason for the denial and get your claim back on track.
Can You Sue an Uninsured Motorist in Texas?
You have the right to sue someone personally after a car crash. If the driver has no insurance or purchased the bare minimum allowed by law, filing a lawsuit could compel them to cover your damages, including the following:
- Pain and suffering
- Reduced quality of life
- Lost income
- Financial losses not covered by your insurance
That said, you will want to exercise this right with care. Uninsured drivers often don’t have the resources to pay out of pocket for expensive accidents. Unfortunately, some may declare bankruptcy so that they do not have to pay what you need to cover your accident-related losses.
How to Determine if a Lawsuit Is the Best Option
Your car accident lawyer could work with you to decide if filing a lawsuit is a good option for you. If you choose to file a lawsuit, they could handle the case and seek a fair outcome. They’ll take care of these tasks:
- Contacting the at-fault party and their legal representative
- Presenting your case to the other parties
- Negotiating for the settlement you need
Accidents involving uninsured or underinsured drivers can become complicated, frustrating, and challenging. Thus, it’s often a good idea to protect your interests by hiring a car accident lawyer to help you navigate such a case.
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Learn More About Uninsured Car Accident Cases
Do you still have questions about how UM/UIM coverage works in Texas? Loncar Lyon Jenkins has the answers. Call us today and let a team member evaluate your case at no charge. We help clients with both personal injury and wrongful death cases.