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How Does Uninsured/Underinsured Motorist Coverage Protect Me?

Shabbick & Associates, PC Aug. 4, 2023

All but two states in the U.S. require auto insurance. However, many drivers ignore the law regarding auto insurance and end up causing trouble for themselves and other drivers on the road. Some drivers cannot afford auto insurance, while others think insurance is a waste of money. Fortunately, you can protect yourself from these drivers by purchasing uninsured and underinsured motorist coverage.  

If you have been involved in an accident with an uninsured or underinsured motorist, you might need to get legal help from an experienced attorney. Our car accident attorneys at Shabbick & Associates, PC are here to protect your rights and help you fight for the compensation you deserve. We have offices in Bethlehem and Palmerton, Pennsylvania, but serve clients throughout Lehigh County, Carbon County, and Northampton County.  

What Is Uninsured/Underinsured Insurance? 

While many people use the terms “uninsured coverage” and “underinsured coverage” interchangeably, they actually refer to two different types of coverage: 

  • Uninsured motorist coverage pays for your medical bills and vehicle repair costs when the at-fault driver does not have any insurance coverage whatsoever; and 

  • Underinsured motorist coverage pays for medical bills and vehicle repair costs when the at-fault driver does not have sufficient insurance to cover your expenses or it reached its limit.  

Both uninsured and underinsured motorist coverage (UM/UIM) serve as an addition to your auto insurance policy. While some states require drivers to purchase uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage, Pennsylvania is not one of them. In Pennsylvania, drivers are not required to purchase UM/UIM coverage, but all insurance providers are legally required to offer this coverage. Statistically speaking, only six percent of motorists in the state of Pennsylvania are uninsured, according to the Insurance Information Institute.  

Note: Pennsylvania is one of few states that have a hybrid fault/no-fault insurance system known as “choice no-fault.” It means that motorists are given an opportunity to choose between full tort (at-fault) and limited tort (no-fault) coverage when purchasing insurance.  

What Does Uninsured/Underinsured Coverage Cover? 

When a car accident occurs and the other driver is at fault, their liability insurance is supposed to pay for your medical bills and vehicle repairs. However, obtaining compensation becomes problematic when the at-fault driver does not have insurance. In that case, you can recover damages through your uninsured motorist coverage, if you have one.  

Underinsured motorist coverage, on the other hand, kicks in when the at-fault driver does not have enough liability coverage to pay for your damages and losses. Instead of paying for the rest of the bills from your pocket, you can use underinsured motorist coverage.  

Generally, UM/UIM coverage also pays for injuries and damages sustained by your passengers and other members of your household when the at-fault driver has no insurance or has insufficient insurance. On top of medical bills and vehicle repair costs, UM/UIM coverage may also cover your lost wages if you cannot work after the accident and even pay for pain and suffering.  

What to Do If You’ve Been Hurt by an Uninsured or Underinsured Motorist 

Being involved in an accident caused by an uninsured or underinsured motorist can be an extremely stressful experience. When these accidents occur, you need to get the other driver’s contact information and call the police. After the police arrive, they will prepare a police report, which will serve as an important piece of evidence for your claim or lawsuit.  

You should also seek immediate medical attention after being hurt by an uninsured or underinsured motorist. Even if your injuries do not seem serious, getting checked out by a medical professional will help you get proper documentation of the harm caused by the other driver.  

If you have been injured in an accident caused by an uninsured or underinsured motorist, you have two options to get the compensation you deserve: 

  1. File an UM/UIM claim. The first option is to file an uninsured/underinsured coverage claim with your insurance company. However, since UM/UIM coverage is optional in Pennsylvania, there is a chance that you may not have this type of coverage as part of your auto insurance.  

  1. File a lawsuit. If you do not have uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage or UM/UIM coverage is not sufficient to cover your expenses, your last resort is to file a lawsuit against the at-fault driver. When filing a lawsuit, you must be able to prove that (a) the other driver was negligent and (b) that their negligence caused your damages and losses.  

If your car accident involved an uninsured or underinsured motorist, you might need to seek legal help from an attorney to ensure that you are on the path toward fair and full recovery through all available avenues for compensation.  

Put Strength in Your Corner 

Our car accident attorneys at Shabbick & Associates, PC, understand the financial strain you may endure when your accident gets caused by an uninsured or underinsured driver. We can explain how uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage can protect you and what other options for compensation you have. Feel free to call us or send an email inquiry to request a free consultation with our results-driven attorneys.