Whose uninsured motorist insurance to use?

If you are in an injury accident, you may find the guilty driver didn’t carry enough insurance to cover your claim. With the high price of medical care a simple three day hospitalization can end up costing you as much as $30,000 to $40,000, depending on the number of tests run and experts seen. Yet Washington and Oregon still only require a driver carry $25,000 in liability coverage to be considered “fully covered” under the financial responsibility laws.

Both states have neglected to raise these limits for many years. What was adequate in the 1970s is no longer adequate today. If someone tells you they have “full coverage”, beware. This may only mean they bought the required $25,000 under state law in order to be considered “fully covered” under the law. In these situations if you were prudent and purchased your own uninsured motorist coverage, you can still come out fine. Your uninsured motorist coverage is there if the other driver was uninsured. It acts like it is his policy and pays you what you would have received had the guilty driver been insured. But it also works in situations where the driver carried insurance, but not enough to pay for the full value of your claim. In these situations, your company will make up the difference between how much the other driver carried in coverage and the full value of your claim, subject to the amount of uninsured motorist coverage you purchased. But what happens if you were riding in someone else’s car when hurt? Do you use their uninsured coverage or your own? The answer in most states is you use the insurance in place on the car first. You only get to use your own if the value of your claim exceeds the combined coverage available from the guilty driver and your friend’s uninsured policy. Only then do you have the right to seek benefits from your own uninsured motorist coverage.

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