In Arizona, all drivers are required to carry car insurance for the cars they own, or buy a self-insured bond to cover accidents. Unfortunately for accident victims, not all drivers get it, and this can put them in a major bind. Without an insurance company, how will they get compensation for an accident they didn’t cause?
There are ways to get compensation if the at-fault party doesn’t have car insurance. You can either make a claim against your own insurance or you can try to sue the at-fault driver directly instead of going through insurance. Here’s what you need to know from our lawyers.
The simplest way to protect yourself from drivers that don’t carry insurance is to purchase UI/UIM coverage on your own policy. UI/UIM stands for Uninsured/Underinsured Motorist. Arizona does not require this coverage in its insurance minimums, so you should ask your insurance agent about adding it.
Uninsured motorist coverage does exactly what it says on the tin. It covers you if the other driver doesn’t have insurance. You’ll make a claim against your own insurance instead, prove you’re owed money, and you’ll get paid that way. A lawyer can help you with this process.
After you get your settlement, the insurance company may try to sue the responsible driver to get their money back. This is called subrogation, and it’s another huge reason you need to carry car insurance. You don’t want to face a lawsuit from an angry insurance company!
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What does Underinsured Mean?
The minimum policy in Arizona is $25,000 per person and up to $50,000 per accident. That may not be enough to cover serious injuries after an accident. If you hit the at-fault driver’s policy cap and you still need more money, that means the other driver was underinsured.
Underinsurance coverage is usually bundled with uninsured coverage. You can make a claim with your insurance company to get the rest of the money you’re owed just like above, and the insurance company may choose to subrogate against the at-fault driver.
How much coverage do you need? Given medical costs these days, we recommend trying to get a policy that covers at least $100,000 of your bills in all scenarios. This will cover the costs of many accidents. Speak with your insurance agent to get UI/UIM coverage added to your policy and raise your limits.
Suing the Other Driver Directly
If you don’t have UI/UIM coverage, your only recourse may be to sue the other driver directly in court. Unfortunately, even if you have no liability in your accident, you could still end up with very little money.
Insurance exists to cover the costs of accidents. Most people do not have the assets to pay for someone else’s accident out of pocket. Nevertheless, a court can use legal means like wage garnishment to pay your damages over time.
Suing someone directly requires the help of an accident lawyer. You may also need to hire a forensic accountant to figure out if it’s worth the trouble to sue. You can’t squeeze blood from a stone. It’s unfortunate, but this is a possibility.
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Penalties for Driving Without Insurance
The driver without insurance will also face penalties from the state for not carrying insurance. For first-time offenders, there are three penalties:
- $500 fine
- Three-month suspension of license and registration
- Must carry an SR-22 certificate for two years
The last item is also known as a certificate of financial responsibility. The court will require the driver to get insurance, and then the insurance carrier will file this form with the Department of Motor Vehicles. If the driver misses premium payments or gets their policy canceled, the form requires insurance carriers to notify the DMV. That will open up the driver to further penalties.
SR-22 requirements also tell insurance companies that the driver is a high-risk policyholder. Higher insurance premiums are guaranteed. Also, this form will follow the driver if they move out of state. Even if the new state has lower insurance requirements, the driver will have to meet Arizona’s while the SR-22 is in effect.
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Zanes Law Can Help You With Your UI/UIM Claim
If the at-fault party doesn’t have car insurance, you might have more difficulty getting compensation, but it’s not impossible. If you have UI/UIM coverage, you can file a claim against your own insurance. You can also sue the driver directly with a lawyer’s help if the driver has enough assets you can claim.
Even if you’re making a claim with UI/UIM coverage, a lawyer can help you negotiate with your own insurance company. Even though you’re paying the premiums, they may try to reduce your compensation! Contact Zanes Law if you have further questions about collisions with no insurance coverage.