Un/Underinsured Motorist Coverage in California

Automobile accidents can cause devastating injuries that leave motorists bedridden for months. At RMD Law, we have seen broken bones, crushed limbs, traumatic brain injuries, and spinal cord injuries, among many others. These injuries can require hundreds of thousands of dollars in medical treatment, including ongoing care.

But what happens if the driver who caused the collision did not have insurance? Or what if they did have insurance but the policy amounts are not enough? This is where uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage comes in.

What is Uninsured/underinsured Motorist Coverage?

Imagine a common scenario. Angela strikes Tyler in an intersection after she races through a red light. As a result of the crash, Tyler suffers a broken neck and a traumatic brain injury, both of which keep him out of work for 6 months and require extensive rehabilitation. All told, Tyler’s injuries have required $100,000 in medical bills and have cost him another $40,000 in lost wages.

Like other California drivers, Angela carries bodily injury liability insurance (BI) to cover injuries she causes in crashes. However, her BI insurance provides only a maximum of $15,000 (which is the state minimum). That still leaves well over $125,000 in unpaid expenses because of the collision.
Or imagine Angela has no insurance. In that situation, Tyler must bear the entire costs of the crash—even though Angela is to blame.

However, if he has UM coverage, then Tyler can use his policy to pay for medical care and replace lost wages. This insurance steps in when the other driver has no coverage or an insufficient amount.

Is UM Coverage Required?

No. According to law, your insurer must offer you at least $15,000 per person and $30,000 per accident in UM coverage. However, you can always reject it—and, unfortunately, many California drivers do. This means they will not have extra insurance proceeds to tap if the driver who strikes them does not have BI insurance or does not have enough.

As you can see based on the example above, $15,000 does not really provide much coverage. Maybe $15,000 paid for meaningful medical care in the 1980s, but medical care has skyrocketed in cost. Today, that amount will barely cover the costs of inserting a plate or pin to keep a broken bone in place. If you do not want to gamble, then you should certainly purchase UM insurance.

Can You Get More than the $15,000 in UM Coverage Offered?

You can. Remember, $15,000 is just the minimum. Talk to the insurer who provides you with BI insurance and ask how much it would cost to get additional UM coverage. Purchase an amount that makes you feel comfortable.

You should also consider getting medical pay benefits insurance. These benefits pay for reasonable and necessary medical expenses to you and your passengers in the event of a crash. You can usually purchase them in $1,000 increments.

Legal Help When You Need it Most

Few drivers ever plan to rely on their automobile insurance coverage. Nevertheless, accidents can and do happen every day on California’s roads. And when they do, you will be relieved that you have sufficient insurance to cover injuries to yourself and your family.

At RMD Law, we have represented countless accident victims attempting to get benefits to cover medical care, lost wages, and pain and suffering. If you have been involved in a crash, you do have options. To speak to a car accident lawyer in Orange County, please call us today at 949-353-6603.

Aria Miran
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