Over the course of 20+ years working in the field of personal injury, I have seen many instances where a serious injury to my client did not result in the compensation that is deserved because my client did not have UIM protection in their policy or only had the minimal amount ($25,000.00 in Washington).
UIM stands for both “Uninsured Motorist Protection” and “Underinsured Motorist Protection.” This is a part of your automobile policy that is not mandatory and, as a result, many people do not obtain it. Additionally, insurance brokers or agents often do not recognize the importance of this type of coverage to the individual purchasing insurance. In order to not have this insurance, the consumer must make an affirmative declaration, usually in writing, but this also can be done online if you are purchasing your insurance through a website. This is a tragic mistake in many instances because UIM coverage is to protect you and others who are part of your family or who are passengers or drivers of your insured vehicle(s).
UIM is a second layer of insurance to protect you. If someone who causes an automobile collision does not have insurance then UIM steps into their shoes for your benefit. If someone who causes an automobile collision only has the mandatory minimum for liability of $25,000.00 and the person they hit has a case worth $100,000.00, then UIM will step in to fill in the $75,000.00 shortfall (assuming that there is sufficient UIM protection of $100,000 or more).
I have seen dozens of cases where I could not do anything to obtain the money my client deserved because there were minimal limits on the negligent driver and either minimal limits on my client’s UIM policy or no UIM at all. While it is possible in rare circumstances to obtain some money in addition to insurance proceeds from a negligent driver, in the vast majority of circumstances, that person does not have additional assets. If they do, they can declare bankruptcy in the face of a large civil claim and eliminate their exposure and any chance of obtaining more money for the injured person.
These circumstances are alleviated by purchasing UIM coverage for yourself. Moreover, you should make sure that you have higher limits than the minimum. This coverage is to take care of you and your loved ones, especially in the case of a catastrophic injury. UIM limits track the liability limits that you purchase to protect others if you happen to make a mistake while driving that causes someone else injury. In both instances, it is important to ask how much more would it cost to raise the limits of your coverage. The answer is typically that changing your coverage from $25,000 or $50,000 to a higher amount like $250,000.00 is not very expensive. Most claims don’t have values over $100,000.00 and so the insurance industry doesn’t charge very much to add on coverage amounts that will likely never be paid out. If a claim is for a serious injury, however, then having the additional coverage is vital. The cost to raise your coverage is minimal because the main cost of insurance is covered by the smaller limits; obtaining insurance at all is costly, but raising the limits is relatively affordable.
In summary, suffer the pain of a higher premium now so that you do not suffer the regret of not having adequate insurance for you and your family should a serious injury occur from a motor vehicle accident. Obtain a high amount of UIM insurance for your own protection.