There are a couple of different reasons why should purchase uninsured motorist coverage in addition to medical insurance. For one, your medical insurance covers your medical bills, which won’t necessarily cover 100% of your medical bills. Depending on your medical insurance, sometimes you will have deductibles and copays that you would pay out-of-pocket for, even if the accident was not your fault. Moreover, your medical insurance is not going to cover any lost wages, inconvenience, or incidentals. For instance, let’s say you have to go to physical therapy, travel 10 miles every day to get there, and lose an hour of work every day. None of that would be covered by your traditional medical insurance in the instance of an automobile accident.
The problem with only having medical insurance is that there’s a limit to damages. It strictly pays medical bills. As mentioned, it also doesn’t necessarily pay 100% of your medical bills. You’d still be responsible for copays and deductibles. If you add uninsured motorist coverage, it would protect you from having to pay out-of-pocket expenses. Furthermore, lost wages could also be a big item. Assuming you’re unable to work, it’s not fair to be out of money.
In regard to property damage, you can purchase collision coverage for your car. That covers your vehicle regardless of who is at fault. However, if you have an older car and rather not have collision coverage on that vehicle, sometimes it doesn’t make sense to have it in terms of cost. You can buy uninsured motorist property damage. That way, if you’re in an accident and your vehicle sustains damages, your uninsured motorist property damage coverage would cover your car. There are limitations on other insurances, but uninsured motorist property damage would cover all your damages in that case.
Uninsured or underinsured motorist coverage is generally affordable. When you look at your policy, the initial cost of your coverage tends to be the biggest expense. To add on coverage is generally pretty minimal given what your insurance already costs. When clients ask me whether it is affordable to add uninsured or underinsured motorist coverage, I tell them to bring me their policy to review it. When we look at it, it is so minimal that they say, “That didn’t even occur to me. I never looked at it that way.” Again, the most significant expense is the initial coverage you have. It’s normally not the uninsured motorist because it’s only going to pay in a specific situation.
Most people do not realize that someone is fully legal with a very small amount of coverage. Every time I have a case where my client sustained damages in excess of $25,000 and find out that the other driver only had $25,000 in coverage, they learn a heartbreaking and costly lesson. They normally ask, “Isn’t there any action we can take against them? What can you do since they only have $25,000 in insurance?” In response, I say, “They’re fully legal. They’re in compliance with the law.” We can attempt to recover more than that if they have personal assets available to cover the damages. However, in reality, few people are actually collectible in that situation. In all the years I’ve been doing this, I’ve only found one person that had assets in excess of their policy. The reason why people get the cheapest policy is because they’re trying to save money. They can’t afford more. Therefore, to assume that someone who buys the minimum coverage is going to have more than that in assets, doesn’t frequently happen. In any event, that’s a process that I don’t recommend attempting. You can get a $1 million judgment against someone, and still have a problem collecting. Even if they own a home, for instance, you’re behind the mortgage carrier if they have a mortgage. Getting to someone’s personal assets, 1) they have to have them; and 2) until you get a judgment against that person, you have to stand in line.
I have seen uninsured motorist coverage in Ohio that costs about $50 a year. For $50 a year, I am not going to risk not having uninsured motorist coverage.
The other misconception people have is that uninsured motorist coverage only covers the driver. In reality, uninsured motorist insurance covers you and your family members. For instance, if I’m in a vehicle with young children and get into an uninsured accident, everyone in my car will be covered. Additionally, if your children are in someone else’s car and they are injured in a car accident with an uninsured driver, your uninsured motorist could cover them. For the amount of protection you get as an insured, it is worth adding to your policy.
Lastly, one other concern that most people worry about is that it will be marked against them on their insurance policy. They don’t want to use their coverage because they don’t want to be penalized by their insurance company. Since it is not an at-fault accident, you don’t have to worry about getting penalized. The insurance company is paying because someone else was at fault.