After an accident, drivers should exchange insurance information with one another to make an accident claim and get compensation. But what happens if the other driver has no insurance? In this situation, you can get compensation through your uninsured motorist coverage.
Uninsured motorist coverage is an add-on to your auto policy that lets you get cash from your own insurer if the other driver doesn’t have insurance. Zanes Law encourages all drivers to carry this policy add-on. It can make a vast difference in the outcome of your accident.
Situations Where Uninsured Motorist Coverage Applies
Uninsured motorist coverage gives you compensation in two situations. First, if the other driver has no insurance at all. All drivers are required to carry insurance, but some people skip their responsibilities and leave accident victims without an easy way to get paid for an accident. Uninsured motorist coverage helps with that.
The other situation is when the other driver cannot be found. This can happen in a hit-and-run accident or if you hit cargo that fell off a vehicle. The insurance industry treats these the same as getting into an accident with someone without insurance.
If you have to claim this coverage and the police find the responsible party later, you won’t have to pay back your insurance company. Instead, they will use a process called subrogation to get paid back by the responsible party or their insurer.
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Underinsured Motorist Coverage
Insurers often combine underinsured motorist coverage with uninsured motorist coverage. This is known as UI/UIM coverage. If you don’t know if you have uninsured motorist coverage, check your policy for this term. If you have it, then you’re covered.
Underinsured motorist coverage can get you extra money if the costs of your injuries go beyond the other driver’s policy limit. The minimum amount of coverage for a single victim is $25,000, so if you hit that limit, your underinsured coverage may make up the difference.
Your accident lawyer will work with your insurer to help you access this coverage when they help you with an accident claim, assuming it is on your policy. You cannot get UI/UIM coverage after an accident. Buying it after the fact won’t help you with your current accident.
Getting UI/UIM Coverage
Uninsured and underinsured motorist coverage are not required in Arizona, but you have to reject it in writing when you get your Arizona insurance policy if you don’t want it. So, unless you signed away your need for it or you’ve just arrived from a state that doesn’t require it, you should have it.
Adding the coverage is quite easy and normally only adds a few extra dollars to your premium each month. It’s worth getting the coverage because the costs of not having it can ruin your financial health. When you get it, ask how much it will cover to make sure it meets your needs.
UI/UIM is intended for bodily injury damages only, but you’ll want to confirm this with your insurance agent. If you have comprehensive and collision coverage with your insurer, they may extend this coverage to uninsured accidents.
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Can I Still Sue the Other Driver if They’re Uninsured?
Yes, though you will require the aid of a car accident lawyer to find out if it’s worth it. The trouble with suing an uninsured driver is that they may not have any assets to pay for your injuries. You might win your case but not get money, at least not in a lump sum.
A court can take actions to get money from people who lose civil cases over time, like through wage garnishment. Yet you may need a lot of money up front to pay for your medical care and to get your vehicle repaired or replaced.
Therefore it’s a better option to get uninsured motorist coverage. That can pay for your most immediate needs. If it is still not enough, then speak with a lawyer about your options for suing the uninsured driver for their assets.
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Penalties for Driving Without Auto Insurance in Arizona
It’s far cheaper to get auto insurance than to get caught without auto insurance in Arizona. You’ll face fines, loss of driving privileges, and have to pay extra on your insurance if you are caught. The amounts depend on how many times you’ve been caught without insurance.
The fines can range from $500-$1000, and the suspension of your license and registration can last anywhere from three months to a full year. There are also additional fees to reinstate your registration and driver’s license.
The most expensive penalty is asking your insurance company to file an SR-22 with the state for three years. This document is a certificate of financial responsibility. The state wants to see this document as proof you have insurance, but it also signals to insurance companies that you’ve committed a driving offense. Thus, they will raise your rates because you’ll be seen as a risk.
How Much Will Uninsured Motorist Coverage Pay Me?
That depends on what your policy limit is. The minimum amount of coverage is the same as the minimum liability coverage in Arizona. Therefore, the minimum coverage is $25,000 per victim and up to $50,000 per accident.
Raising these limits is simple. A call to your insurance agent will do the job. A good rate to cover nearly all accident situations as of this writing is to get $100,000 coverage per victim. If you can afford it, make your liability coverage match that amount, and you have a much lower risk of a lawsuit if you ever cause an accident.
Uninsured motorist coverage is one of the most common add-ons to standard liability coverage. It covers accidents where the other driver doesn’t have insurance or cannot be located after an accident. Arizona requires insurers to offer it as part of the minimum policy requirements, so you may already have this coverage.