What is uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage and do I need it?

This is often the most overlooked and undervalued coverage of any automobile insurance policy.

More often than not, our clients in Elk Grove and Sacramento County are confused about what this coverage is and why it matters.

That is unfortunate because uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage (or UM/UIM coverage) is the most important part of any automobile insurance policy when you are not at fault for causing an accident.

UM/UIM coverage protects you and your passengers in the event an uninsured or underinsured driver causes you harm on the road. When drivers and insurance agents attempt to seek the cheapest insurance rates possible, this is generally one of the coverages that are minimized, reduced, or removed from the policy altogether. You should not let that happen.

At the Elk Grove-based O'Brien & Zehnder Law Firm, we recommend obtaining the maximum amount of UM/UIM coverage you can afford, but in no circumstance should it be less than your liability coverage. Generally, we recommend at least $100,000 in coverage. This is especially true when the soaring costs of health care are taken into account.

Claims from an automobile accident routinely exceed $100,000, so even if you have that much coverage, there is no guarantee it will be enough. However, $100,000 in coverage is far better than nothing when the at-fault driver is uninsured.

If you do not know whether you have UM/UIM coverage, or you do not know your UM/UIM limits, we strongly suggest you contact your insurance broker/agent/carrier immediately to request this information and possibly increase your UM/UIM coverage accordingly.

Many times increasing your UM/UIM coverage limits to $100,000 or $250,000 will only result in a small change to your monthly premium. Trust us, the few extra dollars per month is worth protecting you and your loved ones.

One of the most difficult parts of our job is telling an injured person with little or no UM/UIM coverage that the driver responsible for their injuries had no insurance or a minimal $15,000 in coverage. In many of those cases, there is simply no one left to compensate the person for their harm.

DISCLAIMER: This article is not a substitute for legal advice and in no way constitutes legal advice or gives rise to an attorney-client relationship. Adequate counsel is fact-dependent and requires independent analysis and inquiry specific to your situation and circumstances. This article is simply meant as a guide to explain in general and brief terms certain issues and serves to provide general information. Contact O'Brien & Zehnder Law Firm at 916-714-8200 if you require legal help or wish to seek legal advice for your specific legal issue(s).