What You Should Know About Uninsured Motorist Insurance Coverage

Posted on behalf of Phillips Law Group on Sep 13, 2017 in Auto Accidents

assessing the damage after a car accidentApproximately one out of every eight drivers in the U.S., or 12.6 percent, is either uninsured or does not have adequate insurance to cover the damages of an auto accident, according to the Insurance Research Council.

Severe auto accidents caused by uninsured drivers can be risky for insured drivers because insurance companies are often reluctant to compensate these types of claims. This makes it difficult to cover the costs of vehicle repairs, medical expenses and lost income.

If you have been injured in an accident caused by an uninsured or underinsured motorist, you should immediately contact a seasoned insurance attorney in Phoenix who can help you determine your options for recovering the compensation you deserve.

Auto Insurance Requirements

in Arizona In Arizona, all drivers are required to show proof of financial responsibility by maintaining two types of auto liability insurance coverage:

  • $15,000 per person and $30,000 per accident for bodily injury coverage: This pays for bodily injury to others who were injured in a car accident caused by the at-fault driver.
  • $10,000 per accident for property damage coverage: This protects a driver from the damage he or she may have caused to other vehicles or property during an auto accident.

Motorists who have not purchased the minimum insurance requirements are considered uninsured drivers. They can face harsh penalties if they are caught operating a vehicle, including:

  • 3 to 12 months’ license suspension
  • 3 to 12 months’ suspension of vehicle registration plates
  • $500 to $1000 fine

Uninsured Motorist Coverage

Insurance companies are legally obligated to provide you with the option to purchase uninsured motorist (UM) and underinsured motorist (UIM) coverage with your auto insurance policy. This offer must be made in writing and should clearly state the policy limits that you are purchasing, according to A.R.S. § 20-259-.01.

UM is extra coverage that you can purchase to protect you and the passengers in your vehicle for any damages sustained during an accident involving an uninsured driver. This type of insurance prevents you from paying out-of-pocket for damages, like vehicle damage and medical expenses.

Arizona’s vehicle insurance law also prevents insurers from raising the rate of your insurance premium if you file a claim for UM or UIM benefits after an accident caused by another driver, according to A.R.S. § 20-263.

There are three types of UM coverage that insurance companies must provide you the option of purchasing:

Underinsured Motorist Bodily Injury Coverage

Underinsured Motorist Bodily Injury (UMBI) is intended to cover you and the passengers in your vehicle from any bodily injury that occurs during an accident caused by an uninsured driver.

This type of coverage will compensate your medical treatment up to the limits you purchased in your policy. If you decide to buy UMBI coverage, your insurer should compensate you for:

  • Medical expenses
  • Loss of income
  • Pain and suffering
  • Funeral expenses

Uninsured Motorist Property Damage Coverage

Uninsured motorist property damage coverage applies when the uninsured driver is found to be at fault for the accident. This type of insurance will compensate you for the damage inflicted upon your vehicle during the accident.

Underinsured Motorist Coverage

UIM coverage is purchased along with your UM coverage in your insurance policy and has the same limitations in the amount you can be compensated.

In order to recover compensation from UIM coverage, two conditions must apply to your claim:

  1. Your damages must be higher than the limits in the at-fault driver’s insurance policy.
  2. You must have purchased more UIM coverage than the at-fault party’s liability insurance limits.

UIM coverage is designed to compensate you for what the at-fault driver’s insurance does not cover. For example, if you have purchased $30,000 in UIM coverage and the at-fault driver has $20,000 in liability insurance, you would be entitled to recover $10,000 from your UIM coverage.

However, if you purchased $15,000 in UIM coverage, and the at-fault driver has only $15,000 in liability insurance, you cannot recover any excess compensation because you do not have a higher amount of UIM coverage.

Statute of Limitations for Uninsured Motorist Claims

If you are filing a UM/UIM claim in Arizona, you must follow the state’s three-year statute of limitations to recover compensation from your insurer, as per A.R.S. § 12-555.

For UM claims, you must provide the claim in writing to your insurer within three years after:

  • The earliest date you knew the at-fault driver was uninsured
  • The date you knew or should have known your coverage was denied by the at-fault driver’s insurer
  • The date you knew or should have known of the insolvency of the at-fault driver’s insurer.

For UIM claims, you must make the claim in writing within three years after the date you filed a claim against the at-fault driver or the date you knew or should have known the at-fault driver had insufficient liability insurance.

If you are unable to reach a settlement with your insurer, you must request arbitration or file a lawsuit in accordance with the terms of your insurance contract within three years after providing the written notice of your UM or UIM claim.

Contact an Experience Auto Accident Attorney in Phoenix

Although you may have purchased UM coverage with your insurance policy, it does not guarantee that your insurer will agree to cover your claim.

Do not hesitate to contact an experience auto accident attorney once you discover the at-fault driver lacks the insurance to cover your injuries and losses.

At the Phillips Law Group, we are ready to help victims of negligent drivers recover the compensation they need to recover after an accident. We will provide you with a free, no obligation consultation to help you find out if you have legal options available. We only work on a contingency fee basis and do not charge any fees for our services unless we recover compensation for your claim.

Call or text 1-800-706-3000 if you were injured in an accident caused by an uninsured driver. 

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