The scenario is all too familiar -- A person is injured in an auto accident only to find out that the other driver had little, or worse yet, no insurance. The reality is that many states do not require drivers to carry automobile insurance, and even in states in which insurance is required, many drivers are minimally insured. The State of California does require each driver to be insured. Unfortunately, insurance regulators and safety activists describe with alarm a developing climate in which many drivers are scaling back or even dropping their auto insurance coverage completely in order to save money during the economic downturn.
In California, auto insurance is required if a person intends to operate a motor vehicle upon the roads and highways. This requirement essentially ensures that most California drivers maintain at least a minimum policy in the event of a collision. That minimum coverage is $15.000 per person/$30,000 per accident. However, despite the generally recession-proof nature of the insurance industry, some insurance agencies are reporting that up to 20% of their clients either dropped their automobile policies or missed payments in recent months. Others warn that we may be looking at record numbers of uninsured motorists across the nation.
Industry figures seem to back up that concern. An auto insurance industry study now warns that an increasing number of drivers may not be insured by the end of 2009. By 2010, 1 of every 6 drivers on U.S. roadways is likely to be uninsured, according to the Insurance Research Council.
You can protect yourself, though, by reviewing your own automobile insurance policy. Your "declarations page" lists the various coverages you have and the premiums you are paying for each. If your not sure what an automobile insurance declaration page looks like, here is an example. Sample Auto Declarations Sample
The most important item on that page (along with the limits of your liability coverage) is the uninsured/underinsured motorist coverages. Uninsured or underinsured motorist coverage is critical because it protects you in the event that a person who causes you injury has little or no liability coverage himself. You should have coverage in the same amount as your liability coverage. In other words, if your liability coverage is in the amount of $300,000, then your uninsured motorist coverage should be in the amount of $300,000. You can elect to have less uninsured motorist coverage than liability coverage, but this is not recommended. Check with your insurance agent; you may be surprised at how little the additional cost is for this important coverage.
If you have uninsured or underinsured coverage in the amount of $300,000, and someone with $25,000 of coverage seriously injured you, their policy would pay the first $25,000 and your policy would step in to pay the next $275,000 to provide you with coverage to $300,000. Uninsured or underinsured motorist coverage is a way for you to protect your family and yourself against irresponsible drivers and to help with the injuries you suffer from an accident.
The National Association of Insurance Commissioners, which represents insurance regulators in all 50 states, said most Americans were woefully uninformed about what was covered by their auto policies. A quarter of Americans rarely or never review their policies, the association reported in a survey, while three-fifths review their coverage only when they file a claim or renew their policies. As a result, tens of millions of Americans are driving around with policies that don't reflect major changes in their incomes and family situations.
Cohn & Swartzon has been handling personal injury lawsuits for many years and have helped individuals and families with uninsured/underinsured cases in and around Orange County, California and surrounding areas, including Santa Ana, Irvine, Newport Beach, Huntington Beach, Yorba Linda, Anaheim, Fullerton, Brea and the surrounding communities.
Related Insurance Industry Posts:
Friend or Foe: Insurance Adjusters Have a Bad Rap for a Reason
Related Web Sources:
Uninsured Motorist Statistics
Alarming Rise in Uninsured Motorists