Uninsured Motorist Coverage in California
What is Uninsured Motorist Coverage and How Does it Work if You’ve Been in a Motor Vehicle Accident?
Car Accidents and Uninsured Drivers
Getting in a car accident is never fun. Getting in a car accident and finding out that the other driver does not have car insurance, or did not provide their car insurance, is even less fun. There are multiple reasons why another driver may not have insurance in a car accident. The biggest, and most obvious, scenario is that the other driver in the car accident did not buy car insurance. Although in California the law requires every driver to have minimal automobile insurance coverage, not every driver follows the law! But there are also some less obvious reasons why another driver may not have insurance coverage.
Lapsed (Expired) Car Insurance
Sometimes the other driver’s car insurance may have lapsed (expired). So even if they had automobile insurance, their insurance is not valid and does not provide coverage because it lapsed. For example, the other driver’s car insurance lapsed or expired on July 1st, and they paid to have coverage start again on July 5th. What happens if they are involved in a car accident on the 4th of July? Unfortunately, their car insurance is not going to cover that accident since they weren’t paying for it at the time of the car accident. Although the other driver had car insurance, they did not have valid coverage at the time of the accident since it lapsed. For you, this ends up being the same as if the other driver was uninsured for the car accident.
Excluded Driver and Car Insurance
Another scenario is if the other person is an excluded driver on the auto insurance policy. This means that the other person was driving a vehicle that had insurance, but they were listed as an “excluded” driver on the car insurance. Just as it sounds, the insurance provides coverage for a car accident, except for when the car is being driven by anyone who is named as “excluded” under the policy. There can be a variety of reasons why someone can be listed as an excluded driver, which will be the topic of a future article. But for the purposes of this article, the simple point is that an accident with an excluded driver can often be the same as being in an accident with someone who doesn’t have car insurance.
Hit and Run Driver or Driver Didn’t Provide their Insurance
Another situation is the other driver took off or did not provide their car insurance information at the scene of the accident. Unfortunately, we have all heard of a hit-and-run accident, which is when someone in a car crash does not stay or stop to exchange their information, including their car insurance. Or if the other driver did stop, they did not provide their car insurance information. This can be due to a variety of reasons. Surprisingly, sometimes, you as the victim in the accident may have been in shock, or worried about your own car and injuries. While a lot of things were happening really quickly, you may have forgotten to take down the other driver’s insurance information. Of course, nobody expects to get in a car accident. So sometimes when it happens, we’re left unprepared at the accident scene.
Another way you can leave the accident scene, without the other driver’s insurance, is if they don’t have their insurance information with them at the scene. If you’re later unable to track down their car insurance information, this can be a problem. Our firm has also seen other drivers refuse to provide their information and insurance after an accident, and then leaving the scene after an argument. If that happens as well, and you are not later able to obtain the other driver’s information, then you may not have the other driver’s insurance to later go after.
Filing a Claim or Lawsuit Against the Other Driver Personally
So what happens if you get in a car accident with someone who doesn’t have valid insurance coverage for any of these reasons? Certainly, as a first resort, try to obtain the other driver or vehicle owner’s insurance information if possible. If you try but find out the other driver and vehicle definitely do not have valid car insurance for the accident, then you still have the option to go against the other driver personally. This means seeking to recover for your damages against the other driver’s personal assets such as their savings or even house. While this sounds great in theory, it may be more difficult to recover against a driver personally than it seems. For one, the driver may not have any assets that you can recover your damages from. Another issue may be that the other driver could file for bankruptcy, which again may not leave you anything to recover your damages from.
Filing an Uninsured Motorist Claim
This is where Uninsured Motorist Coverage comes in. When the other driver and vehicle do not have insurance, or valid insurance coverage, you may be able to file a claim and go against your own car insurance if you have Uninsured Motorist Coverage. Uninsured Motorist Coverage is exactly what it sounds like at this point. It is coverage that is provided by your own car insurance in the event the other driver and vehicle are either uninsured, did not have valid insurance coverage, or left the scene of the accident and you’re unable to get their information.
With Uninsured Motorist Coverage, your own insurance may cover and pay for your damages from the accident. So even if you believed you were out of luck because the other person and vehicle did not have insurance, or you were unable to obtain it from them, you may still be able to recover for your damages with Uninsured Motorist Coverage.
Know Your Uninsured Motorist Coverage Limits
That is why it is really important to make sure not only that you have Uninsured Motorist Coverage, but also that the limits you have for such coverage is sufficiently high to cover your damages in the event of an accident. Because if you only have $15,000 in Uninsured Motorist Coverage, but your damages exceed that amount, then your own insurance may only cover up to $15,000 of your damages. The rest of your damages may end up coming down to you having to cover them yourself, since the other driver didn’t have insurance and your own insurance will only cover up to whatever you set your Uninsured Motorist Coverage limit.
It’s also possible to waive your Uninsured Motorist Coverage when you signed up or renewed your car insurance. This means you could choose not to purchase Uninsured Motorist Coverage, because you want to save a few dollars on your insurance premiums. While that may seem like a good idea, in reality, you run a huge risk if you are later involved in an accident with someone who does not end up having car insurance.
So it is important to check both that you have Uninsured Motorist Coverage, and that your limits are sufficiently high, in case you are ever involved in a car accident with an uninsured driver.
Local San Diego Car Accident Attorney
At The Nalan Law Firm, PC, we know firsthand the issues you’re dealing with after car accident, and in having to fight against the insurance company to recover your damages. We have one of the top lawyers in San Diego to help with your car accident case. If you have a question or are considering filing a car accident claim or lawsuit, please contact us to discuss with one of our experienced accident attorneys at (619) 736-0080 for a free consultation.
Any content and information provided by this website and/or The Nalan Law Firm, PC is for informational purposes only and is not intended to be legal advice or a substitute for competent legal counsel. Any exchange of information contained in this website, is not intended, and does not establish an attorney-client relationship.