According to the latest statistics, 20% of Texas drivers are uninsured. 1 in 5 people driving on Texas roadways have no automobile liability insurance. If you are unlucky and get in a wreck caused by an uninsured driver, you will not be compensated for your injuries unless you have uninsured motorist insurance coverage. When an uninsured motorist causes a collision, the other parties injured have to make a claim against their own insurance company to recover uninsured motorist (UM) insurance benefits.
Just as important, a large number of drivers only carry the minimum insurance limits, which in Texas is $30,000/$60,000/$25,000. This coverage means there is a total of $30,000 in bodily injury damages per person injured in the collision, $60,000 total in bodily injury damages per collision (no matter how many people injured) and $25,000 property damage insurance. Which means if you are injured by another driver and your damages exceed $30,000 in bodily injury damages, you will not be fully compensated for your injuries unless you have underinsured motorist insurance coverage.
Minimum automobile insurance limits are usually not enough to pay for the injuries you sustain.
In Texas, insurance companies are required to provide you with UM/UIM coverage unless you reject such coverage in writing. In the past, I’ve had some clients who had rejected such coverage thinking they were saving a lot of money. This reminds me of the saying, “penny wise, pound foolish.” UM/UIM coverage is not as expensive as regular liability insurance coverage, and it is the best way for you to ensure that you and your family are financially protected in a collision.
Anyone who has gone to the hospital lately knows how quickly you can incur a lot of medical bills. In my business, I’ve seen emergency room hospital bills for individuals not seriously injured be as high as $20,000-$30,000. Then you add on MRIs, doctor and therapy bills and you can see how quickly your damages increase. This does not include any money for lost wages due to the collision, the pain and suffering or mental anguish you endure or if you are seriously injured, any physical impairment you suffer. The damages can add up quickly. The best way to protect you and your family is to ensure you have sufficient UM/UIM insurance coverage.
And what if you and your family are injured by a driver who only has minimum insurance limits? Again, the most the at-fault party’s insurance company will have to pay is $60,000. So if you, your spouse and child are injured in a collision and all three of you have damages of $30,000 each, for a total of $90,000, the most the at-fault driver’s insurance will have to pay is $60,000. So unless you have underinsured motorist insurance coverage, your family will not be fully compensated for their injuries.
I have represented a number of clients who were seriously injured by another person who only had minimum insurance coverage and my clients did not have UM/UIM coverage. It is a hard conversation to tell your client that they will not be fully compensated for their injuries because the other driver only had minimum insurance limits and my client failed to purchase UM/UIM coverage to protect themselves and their families.
What about the damages to my car or truck in a collision?
You also want to make sure you have uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage for your vehicle. Let me give you a real-life example. I had a client who had just purchased a new car and she had financed the car. The car’s value was around $45,000 and she still owed $44,000 on the vehicle. She was involved in a wreck caused by another person. That person had minimum insurance limits. They had complied with Texas law by having the required insurance, but only the minimum amount. As explained above, that meant there was only $25,000 to pay for her vehicle damages. The problem was her car was totaled and the value of her car was $45,000 and she owed $44,000. So, the at-fault party’s insurance company paid the $25,000 policy limits but my client still owed another $19,000 to the finance company for her car. Fortunately, she had UM/UIM coverage for her vehicle, including property damage, and her own insurance company paid the remaining amount owed. If she did not have the UM/UIM property damage insurance, she would have still owed $19,000 on a totaled vehicle she could no longer drive.
What Can You Do?
Take out your automobile insurance policy and look at your policy to see if you have uninsured/underinsured motorist insurance coverage. Under your insurance policy, there is a declaration page where it will show COVERAGES you have. Look for UM/UIM coverage. That is the uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage section. It will have separate policy limits just like your LIABILITY section (damages the insurance company will pay to others if you cause a wreck). There will a Per Person limit and a Per Accident Limits and then a separate limit for Property Damage. If you don’t have this coverage, call your insurance company and ask them to add that coverage to your insurance policy. This could save you thousands of dollars in the future if you are unfortunate to have an uninsured or underinsured driver cause a wreck with you in Texas.
If you, a family member or friend are involved in a collision, you should consult with an experienced personal injury attorney. At the Kisselburgh Law Firm, we have represented those injured due to the fault of overs for over 30 years.