Do I Have Enough Underinsured or Uninsured Coverage?
- April 12, 2023 |
- Car Accidents
Being involved in a car accident can be a very stressful and life-changing experience. Not only do you have to deal with recovering from your injuries, but you may also have a lot of medical bills and may have to miss work.
In Massachusetts, you should be aware of two types of insurance coverage when you look to purchase a policy. The first is underinsured motorist coverage and the other is uninsured motorist coverage. One question that policyholders may ask is, do I have enough underinsured or uninsured coverage? Or any coverage in those circumstances at all?
How Underinsured and Uninsured Motorist Coverages Work
Underinsured motorist coverage is insurance that you can purchase as part of your overall motor vehicle insurance. This type of insurance is used when you are in an accident and the other driver does not have enough insurance to cover your injuries or damages from the accident. If this happens, your underinsured motorist coverage kicks in and will cover the difference between the other driver’s insurance and the limits on your underinsured section of the policy.
Underinsured motorist coverage is not mandatory under Massachusetts law, but it is highly recommended by personal injury attorneys and insurance companies. Also, this type of insurance is available to all household members or anyone riding in your car when the accident occurs. One important note about underinsured motor coverage: you will be entitled to benefits only if your coverage is higher than the bodily injury coverage of the at-fault driver.
Uninsured motorist coverage is exactly what it sounds like. You are mandated by law to purchase this coverage on your policy. Your uninsured motorist coverage will kick in if you are involved in an accident and the other driver has no liability insurance.
Uninsured motorist coverage is there to protect you from being stuck with no coverage for medical bills or other damages if you are involved in an accident with someone who has no insurance and is at fault. In Massachusetts, the minimum amount of uninsured motorist coverage is $20,000, located in Part 3 of the standard automobile insurance policy for Massachusetts. However, $20,000 may seem like a lot, but it can go very quickly when you have months of medical treatment, lost wages and additional pain and suffering.
Also, your uninsured motorist coverage will kick in if you are injured by a hit-and-run driver. This happens if you are not able to identify the driver that hit you and so will not be able to file a claim against their insurance company if they even have coverage.
While it may not be a consolation to you after an uninsured driver has hit you, if someone is convicted of driving without insurance, there is a minimum fine of $500 (and can get as high as $5,000), and a penalty of up to one year in jail.
In summary, if you are asking yourself whether you have enough underinsured or uninsured coverage, it is important to have both. This way, you will be protected in the event that you are involved in an accident with someone who is underinsured or does not have automobile insurance at all.
Making an Uninsured or Underinsured Motorist Claim in Massachusetts
If you are involved in a motor vehicle accident in Massachusetts, the first thing to do is get medical attention immediately. Even if you think that your injuries are not serious enough to warrant a hospital visit or attention from EMTs, you should do it so that you have a report of any injuries that have been sustained.
Next, you should document the accident scene as much as possible, including taking a lot of pictures with your cell phone, detailing in writing what happened to cause the accident and getting names and contact information from any witnesses to the crash.
If you are in a crash with an uninsured motorist, a personal injury attorney can try to obtain compensatory damages from any assets that the at-fault driver may have. It is then possible to make a claim against other insured vehicles in the uninsured’s household or negotiate with your insurance company to get you compensated.
Insurance companies are in the business of making money and will want to pay you as little as possible. Insurance companies do not want to pay out a lot of money on claims. When dealing with insurance companies, you should retain an experienced and knowledgeable Massachusetts personal injury law firm to help you.
We have seen numerous instances where an accident victim has received a settlement with an insurance company, and the money is not enough to pay medical or any other bills that have accumulated.
If you decide to file a complaint in court against the at-fault driver, the statute of limitations to file such a lawsuit is three years from the date of the accident. The sooner you file a suit, the better, as you will be compensated quicker.
When you purchase a policy with an insurance company, it is a contract. That means that if you are in an accident, the insurance company must investigate the claim and pay, as soon as possible, any covered benefits in the policy.
If the insurance company denies a claim, and you think this was unjust, then you can claim against the insurance company for bad faith. These claims are usually in the form of a lawsuit against your insurance company and are used as a deterrent against insurance companies’ not handling claims properly.
Underinsured claims will work the same way. If the person who caused the accident is underinsured, you (and your attorney) can file for a judgment against that driver for damages.
The problem of assets rises again if someone is underinsured, that they may not have much in the way of assets. In addition, they might file for bankruptcy protection, which will probably discharge any collection efforts.
In summary, you are more likely to obtain compensation for your injuries if you negotiate with your insurance company under your underinsured and uninsured policy. However, if you choose to move forward with a claim, you should hire a law firm with numerous years of experience in this area. In addition, one with expertise in dealing and negotiating with insurance companies would be beneficial.
Is Underinsured Motorist Coverage Required in Massachusetts?
Underinsured motorist coverage is not mandatory under Massachusetts law. However, uninsured motorist coverage is. As we mentioned above, drivers with a license in Massachusetts must have a minimum of $20,000 in uninsured coverage. Even though the minimum is $20,000, drivers should be wary of having coverage that low. Hospital and other medical bills can run much higher than that minimum.
Also, even though you are not required to have underinsured motorist coverage, most insurance professionals and personal injury attorneys say that drivers should have this type of insurance to protect themselves in case they need to use it.
In Massachusetts, the maximum amount of underinsured coverage one can have is $250,000 for an individual and $500,000 total for the vehicle as long as you have that much in the uninsured part of your policy. If you want coverage beyond that much you can get an umbrella policy for more. Ask your local insurance agent about what you need to get an umbrella policy and which companies write in your area.
Winning is NO Accident – Contact the Cava Law Firm to Schedule an Appointment Today
At The Cava Law Firm, our motto is “Winning is NO accident.” By that, we mean that we know how to get you the highest compensation possible. Do not leave it to chance or luck to get what is lawfully yours. Our attorneys have over 25 years of experience in personal injury, and we stay on top of the trends and technology to help us win cases.
We are not afraid to go toe-to-toe with the insurance companies to fight for your rights. Also, we will be there for you from the first meeting to the day you come to the office to pick up your check. We will ensure that you get the proper medical care to get back to your normal day-to-day activities. We offer free consultations, so you will not lose anything if you give us a call at 413-737-3430 or (413) 781-CAVA (2282).
When it comes to fighting for you against the at-fault driver or negotiating with the insurance companies, we will win your case and make sure your rights are defended. Because for us, winning is NO accident.