One of the least understood parts of the personal auto policy is a section called Uninsured/Underinsured Motorist coverage. Simply stated, if you or a family member are involved in a motor vehicle accident that is not your fault and the responsible party is uninsured, you and your passengers may recover for injuries and damages incurred in the accident from your own automobile policy. In essence, uninsured motorist coverage allows your insurance company to step into the shoes of the uninsured driver who is responsible for your injuries.
Uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage also serves to provide additional coverage for your injuries in the event that the responsible party has liability insurance coverage, but the limits of that coverage are inadequate to pay for your damages. In such situations, your underinsured motorist provision will provide coverage above the limits of the responsible party up to the limits of your underinsured motorist coverage.
Many people in the State of Maine operate their vehicles with either no coverage or minimum coverage which means that often the insurance of the responsible party, if any, will be too low to cover the value of injuries sustained in an accident. The minimum limit of allowable liability coverage in Maine is $50,000. In the case of an even moderately serious injury, that $50,000 of coverage would not go very far in paying medical bills, lost wages and compensation for pain and suffering, loss of enjoyment of life, etc.
The importance of maintaining adequate uninsured motorist coverage cannot be stressed enough. This is especially true for people who operate motorcycles. Over the years, our firm has handled numerous motorcycle accident claims involving catastrophic injuries in which the defendant driver has inadequate or no coverage. Unfortunately, in a vast majority of these cases, we find that the operator of the motorcycle has inadequate uninsured/underinsured insurance resulting in a tragic result where there is little or no recovery available for a seriously injured person.
Based upon our experience, we believe that uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage is the most important part of a motorist’s or cyclist’s policy. In Maine, the limit of uninsured motorist coverage is generally the same as the liability limit you select.
By the way, uninsured/underinsured insurance would, in most situations, cover you and your family even if you are in some else’s vehicle or a pedestrian that is struck by a vehicle.
How much coverage is enough? If you own a house and have a family, you want to make sure that you are adequately protected in the event that you are injured and incur high medical bills and a significant period of lost wages. Everyone’s situation is different but even a single person with little in the way of monthly expenses needs adequate protection in the event that they are seriously injured in an accident. Increasing your policy limits to $300,000, $500,000 or more may not be as costly as you think and would add greatly to your financial protection and peace of mind.