Part of owning a vehicle is the legal liability and responsibility that comes with operating one. In the United States of America it is illegal to drive a car without valid insurance that not only provides for your medical needs but also the potential costs and rehabilitation of anyone else involved in the accident. A qualitative insurance policy is required in order to adequately protect you from civil liability for injuries or property damage and loss due to a motor vehicle accident.
Ensuring that you have the best policy possible is one small part of the equation. You (as a driver of a motor vehicle) have an equal responsibility to insure that your coverage is adequate for any other injured parties involved in an accident with you. And this is the part where some people fall below expectations and create problems.
The Uninsured Driver
To the responsible driver the idea of operating a vehicle without any insurance is terrifying. It is hard to understand why people do not fully grasp the tremendous legal liability that driving a vehicle without insurance can create. Nonetheless there are a large number of drivers on the road who have no insurance on their vehicle and they are comfortable continuing to share the road with other drivers, who have no idea until of course, there is an accident.
Based on a recent USA Today article online, there are many completely uninsured drivers on the roads in the United States. The State with the highest rate of uninsured drivers was Florida with 24% of drivers completely not insured. The second State with the biggest number of uninsured drivers was listed as Alabama, followed by Georgia and Indiana who reported 16% of drivers as uninsured. USA today estimated that as many as one in every seven drivers on American roads was uninsured which is a surprising statistic.
Next time you are driving down the highway visualize one in every seven cars as not insured because it is a big problem and a reason to be concerned.
The Underinsured Driver
We all want to save money. That much is universal, however saving money shouldn’t come in exchange for increasing your personal or professional liability by failing to provide adequate insurance for the vehicle you are driving. There is a minimum amount of insurance that every driver should acquire to be protected as well as to provide for other participants in the motor vehicle accident.
Each State provides a guideline on the amount of insurance that is required. The State Insurance Commissioner Office sets the minimum insurance standards which can vary depending on where you live. The amount that is required is quoted in three parts in a ratio. Texas for instance has a requirement for 30/60/25. The first two numbers in the equation relate to the sustained bodily injury and coverage provided. For instance, the Texas policy would cover up to $30,000 per person with a maximum allowance of $60,000 payable per the policy. The last number refers to the monetary value of property damage, which in the case of the Texan policy means a maximum of $25,000 would be paid out for vehicle or the replacement of other properties. To learn more about the minimum requirements in your State or jurisdiction, contact your local State Insurance Commissioner Office.
Do you wonder how do people end up with less insurance than they need? It is almost never accidental, as insurance agents are obligated to inform their clients and advise about the amount of insurance to assure that what is requested is adequate to meet the State’s minimum requirements. A licensed insurance agent is required by law to protect their client’s best interests (and the interest of the public) by recommending a motor vehicle policy that will protect all drivers on the road.
When individuals are looking for a means to economize however, they can be tempted to cut back on their insurance policy. Insurance is one of the first monthly expenses that people seek to trim and it is often thought of as not essential. People do not anticipate that they will get into an accident, so they count on the odds and probabilities hoping that they will not need their insurance policy. Each month that goes by that someone is inadequately insured, they are definitely saving money but in the worst possible way with the highest risk to personal liability.
What Happens to the Uninsured or Underinsured in an Accident?
If you are an underinsured or non-insured driver and you get into an accident, the litigation that will follow will be both costly and leave you open to a personal law suit to cover damages not covered by an insurance plan. In the absence of insurance (which is illegal) the personal liability falls to the driver of the [url]vehicle[/url] and his or her estate. You are personally responsible for the value of damages to other vehicles, to property and for any injuries, medical expenses and short or long term rehabilitation of any injured parties in the accident. Does that sound frightening? There is a reason we pay for insurance on a monthly basis so that we are protected from the ensuing litigation that typically comes with a motor vehicle accidents. Without that insurance, drivers and their estates are vulnerable.
If you are involved in a motor accident with an uninsured or underinsured driver, the litigation that follows can be costly and lengthy, and it will require legal representation to effectively sue on your behalf for all damages, loss and injury directly in a civil court. The driver will first face administrative charges for failing to maintain adequate insurance followed by a civil liability for any damages sustained to your vehicle or personal loss for any other participants in the accident. It is an unfortunate situation however the laws are clear about liability, but the process is substantially longer when suing an individual directly when they are not covered by a private insurance policy.
With one in every seven cars on the road inadequately insured, it is an issue that may get considerably worse as people look to reduce costs even further and extend their risk to save money on a monthly basis. Whether you are inadequately insured and have been involved in an accident or whether you were in a collision with a poorly insured individual, legal counsel that specializes in motor vehicle accidents will help you navigate the process.
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