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Do I Need Uninsured Motorist Coverage?

If you’ve been following this blog, you know that many tractor trailer truck drivers are operating unsafe vehicles. Teenagers and adults alike commonly speed, drive aggressively, drive under the influence, talk on cell phones while driving, and text while driving. Distracted drivers are all too common – and many of them are uninsured or underinsured drivers.

Do you know if your insurance policy would cover damages in a wreck in which the other driver is uninsured? If you have uninsured motorist coverage, then you’re covered. If you don’t have uninsured motorist coverage, then you should probably review your insurance policy and talk to your agent.

In January 2009, National Public Radio reported that approximately 16 percent of drivers nationwide are uninsured, and this figure is growing. With the current state of the economy, more and more drivers are letting their car insurance lapse. A study from the Insurance Research Council estimated that approximately 1 in 6 drivers will be driving uninsured by 2010. Unfortunately, drivers who are not responsible enough to maintain insurance coverage are often more likely to drive irresponsibly. Government research has found that uninsured drivers are ten times more likely to have DUI convictions and six times more likely to have convictions for driving an unsafe vehicle.

What would happen to you if one of these uninsured motorists caused an accident in which you were injured? The driver’s insurance company certainly wouldn’t help (since it doesn’t exist). And if you went to court and won a lawsuit against the driver, he or she probably wouldn’t have the assets to satisfy the judgment. That would leave you, as the injured victim, up a creek without a paddle. Many people in this situation do not get the medical care they need, and they never make a full recovery.

Likewise, underinsured motorists are just as dangerous. In Georgia, the minimum liability limit is $25,000. In other nearby states, the limit is even lower; for example, the minimum liability limit for Florida drivers is $10,000. These limits might cover minor fender benders, but they would not cover medical treatment for serious injuries. For example, a broken leg could cost $30,000. Treatment for head injuries could cost hundreds of thousands of dollars.

If you’re involved in a serious auto accident with an uninsured or underinsured driver, you will lose money unless you have adequate uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage on your policy.

Under the Georgia Uninsured Motorist Act, you may choose uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage which stacks on top of liability limits. For example, if an underinsured motorist had a liability limit of $25,000 and you had uninsured motorist coverage of $25,000, the total recovery available would be $50,000. I recommend at least $100,000 in uninsured motorist coverage for most people.

If you don’t know if your policy covers uninsured/underinsured drivers, or if you don’t know exactly how it works, give your insurance company a call. Considering the rising number of uninsured motorists on the road, uninsured motorist coverage would be a wise investment.