What is UM/UIM?
Learn about uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage, its benefits, and its limits.
As car accident attorneys, we hate learning that one of our clients was injured by a driver with no vehicle insurance. Even if you are seriously hurt, it is next to impossible to get money from an uninsured driver. Often, they simply have no money. However, sometimes your own vehicle insurance can help if you have this type of coverage. You may see the letters “UM/UIM” listed on your policy. This stands for “uninsured/underinsured.”
Uninsured Motorist Coverage
If you are injured by an uninsured driver or get hurt in a hit-and-run, uninsured motorist or "UM" coverage can pay for your medical treatment, wage loss, and pain and suffering. With UM, your own insurance company steps into the shoes of the at-fault driver. That means that, even though you are a loyal customer, your insurance company will try to pay you as little as possible for your injuries. But having to fight for a fair settlement is much, much better than having no insurance available at all.
Underinsured Motorist Coverage
Underinsured motorist coverage, or “UIM,” is coverage that kicks in if your medical treatment, wage loss, and pain and suffering have a value greater than the at-fault driver’s insurance limit. Legally, drivers are required to have $15,000.00 per person in coverage for injuries in California. Even if a car accident victim has thousands of dollars in medical bills, they will only receive $15,000.00 from the at-fault driver’s insurance (because this is the insurance limit the at-fault driver purchased). Without UIM, your only option is to take the at-fault driver to court to fight for more money from their own pocket - and hope that they can pay.
Here is an example of how UIM works:
Maria Rivera suffers a back injury after she is rear-ended by Joe Smith. She has high medical bills and her total bodily injury insurance claim is worth about $50,000.00. Joe Smith has $15,000.00 per person in bodily injury insurance. Maria’s UIM policy limit is $100,000.00. Joe Smith’s car insurance pays their full $15,000.00 limit to Maria. Maria’s attorney investigates Joe Smith and finds he has no job, property or bank accounts to try and get more money. If Maria’s UIM insurance agrees her claim is worth $50,000.00, they will pay her an additional $35,000.00.
Your own insurance company may still reject your claim, say your medical bills are too high, or offer an unjust amount for pain and suffering. The right personal injury attorney can help.
Here are important things to remember about UM/UIM:
It is not required by law. You must choose this coverage and pay extra for it before a wreck occurs.
Using UM/UIM does not increase the cost of your car insurance.
You buy a specific policy limit in UM/UIM insurance. No matter how serious your injuries, your insurance company will not pay you more than this limit.