Uninsured/Underinsured Motorist (UIM) Coverage is often a tremendously important part of a claim arising from an automobile accident.
Unfortunately, many people find themselves analyzing the need for UIM Coverage only when it is too late.
Recovering benefits from your insurance policy without UIM Coverage is not a guarantee. Our personal injury lawyers at the Patterson Law Group are available to help you claim the benefits laid out in your UIM policy. Call us today at (817) 784-2000.
In this article:
- What is UIM?
- Am I required to have UIM in my car insurance policy?
- What are the limits of UIM coverage?
- How does the claim process work for UIM?
- How do I make sure I have enough UIM coverage? And, enough of it?
- What does UIM mean in a personal injury case?
What Is UIM (Uninsured/Underinsured Motorist)?
UIM coverage is intended to cover damage you suffer in an auto accident that exceeds the amount of coverage carried by the party responsible.
It’s between you and your insurance company, included in the policy you buy on your car. It covers you or any person in your car for bodily injury (BI) damage and covers property damage (PD), so you can fix or replace your car, subject to a deductible.
UIM coverage is a good thing to have whenever you are in an accident.
It comes in handy if you are injured by someone without insurance or with minimum limits or when there are multiple vehicles and/or injured parties in a crash.
Am I Required To Have UIM In My Car Insurance Policy?
No, UIM coverage is not required.
Your insurance company is required to include the coverage in your policy UNLESS you turn it down in writing.
Insurance premiums are a constant expense and are rising. In 2018, the average cost of auto insurance in Texas was $1,152.25, that’s up 21% from 2014.
It’s understandable why people think it seems reasonable to save a few dollars each month by declining UIM coverage. Declining UIM coverage is a decision that can cost thousands of dollars down the road.
What Are The Limits Of UIM Coverage?
The limits of UIM Coverage are up to you.
Most often, your UIM limits will be the same as your liability limits.
For example, if you carry $100,000 in liability coverage, it’s common to have $100,000 in UIM coverage, too.
These days, with the cost of everything, especially medical care, on the rise, $100,000 seems like the lowest coverage most people would want. More is better.
How Does The Claim Process Work For UIM Claims?
The determination for a UIM carrier to make is simple.
First, it must determine that an uninsured or underinsured third party was legally responsible for damage to its policyholder.
Second, it must determine that the damage caused by that third party exceeds the limits of the third party’s insurance coverage.
Last, it must determine the full extent of the damage caused by the third party.
If those damages are more than the total of the underlying liability coverage and the UIM coverage, the carrier’s liability for UIM is limited to their policy.
When you’re in an accident, you should always hire a lawyer with experience in handling car accident claims. The attorneys at Patterson Law Group can assist you with filing your car accident claim. We are ready to take your call and learn the facts of your case to understand how we can help. Call us today at (817) 784-2000.
Your lawyer can report the crash to all insurance companies with coverage, including your own.
Even though your insurance carrier should be primarily interested in treating you, its policyholder, with the utmost fairness, the truth is insurance companies are most interested in saving their own money and making you fight to get what is rightfully yours.
How Can I Make Sure I Have UIM Coverage And Enough Of It?
The bottom line: Do not decline UIM Coverage.
The premiums are inexpensive. And if you are in a serious car accident, the benefits are great.
Many agents inexplicably encourage their clients to reject this coverage, but it is your choice.
Ask your agent how much UIM coverage they recommend for you and be firm about your intention to have it included in your policy.
Remember—UIM is included in your policy unless you reject it in writing!
What Does UIM Coverage Mean For A Real Personal Injury Case?
Simply put, UIM can make all the difference.
Let’s take a hypothetical case of a person who gets hit by another car and suffers two serious injuries: a broken leg and a head injury.
For the first ten days after the accident, this person has been in intensive care due to a head injury.
After recovering sufficiently to have the broken leg addressed, they undergo surgery and spend an additional three days in the hospital.
With care after discharge for both the leg and the head injury, medical bills paid in connection with the crash total $200,000.
The victim also misses three months of work, costing them about $20,000 in lost earnings. They will be recovering for months or years, and a full recovery is in doubt.
The other driver was a nice person who ran a red light because he was tired from working an overnight shift.
The crash was due to his negligence, and his insurance company says they have no problem paying the full limits of his policy, which are $50,000.
Without UIM coverage and considering the extreme difficulty of collecting a judgment against an ordinary individual in Texas, this will be the entire recovery.
With medical bills far more than this person’s coverage, there will be no way for the injured person to recover anything for the pain and suffering, mental anguish, and physical impairment caused by these injuries.
Instead, UIM coverage could be in place to cover the damage caused that is over and above the $50,000 limits of the negligent party.
In this case, limits of $250,000 or even $500,000 would not be enough to provide a completely fair recovery, but that additional money could certainly provide the difference between an acceptable recovery and no recovery at all.
Will My Insurance Company Treat Me Fairly On My UIM Claim?
Your chances of being treated fairly go up when you hire an experienced lawyer to represent you.
Think of it as leveling the playing field; ANY time an insurance company has a claim in front of it, legions of attorneys have worked on those issues, and at least one attorney is overseeing what happens in that claim.
Why would you want a giant company with all those resources to gain further advantage of legal representation? You don’t, and that’s where we come in.
What If My UIM Carrier Won’t Pay Me A Fair Settlement?
Fortunately, insurance companies offering UIM coverage can be sued, and the courts have clarified an important issue that concerns this lawsuit.
In the past, the companies have taken the position that while they might owe attorney’s fees for a breach of contract, that breach does not occur if a policyholder gets a judgment after trial and the company finally offers to pay.
In Allstate v. Irwin, the Texas Supreme Court issued an opinion that should help to hold insurance companies responsible in these cases.
The opinion says that companies cannot abuse their policyholders by offering woefully inadequate settlements. Only after a jury awards a large verdict pays what it should have paid all along.
Thanks to the ruling in Irwin, it is clear that an insurance company must pay attorney’s fees when it loses a case like this, which should sharpen the insurer’s focus and make it more likely that it will treat policyholders fairly in the settlement process.
Call The Personal Injury Lawyers At Patterson Law Group Today For Help With Your UIM Claim
With the personal injury lawyer team at Patterson Law Group on your side, you will have the resources and experience you need to take on the insurance company and fight for your rights.
Call us at (817) 784-2000 or fill out this form for a free consultation about your personal injury case.
Other relevant articles:
- Overview Of Texas Auto Insurance Laws
- What Happens If Someone Else Is Driving My Car & Gets In An Accident In Texas?
- What Happens If Your Insurance Claim Is Denied?
Author: Greg McCarthy
Greg McCarthy is a personal injury lawyer serving the Fort Worth, Arlington, and San Antonio areas of Texas with the Patterson Law Group. He graduated from the Texas Tech University School of Law. He earned his BBA in Accounting from Texas A&M UniversityGreg has practiced law in Texas for nearly 30 years, representing both Plaintiffs and Defendants in well over a thousand cases. He has also been a mediator with Gilbert Mediation Group in Dallas since 2009, during which time he has mediated hundreds of cases in all varieties of civil litigation.