In the field of personal injury law, one of the hardest things we have to do is tell a seriously injured client that the driver who caused their injuries has no insurance coverage or minimal policy limits of $25,000. These situations can become even worse if we discover that our client has waived uninsured/underinsured (UM/UIM) motorist coverage on their own policy or that they, too, carry only minimal limits of $25,000.
Most people who waive such coverage tell us they had no idea of the full scope of benefits provided by UM/UIM motorist coverage. Not knowing the benefits, many simply chose to waive the coverage or accept minimal limits as a cost saving measure. Unfortunately, after you’ve been injured in a crash, it’s too late to go back and adjust your insurance coverages to better protect yourself and your family.
What is UM/UIM Coverage?
Uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage covers you, your family members and passengers if you are injured by an uninsured driver. If you have UM/UIM coverage on your policy, your own insurance company will step into the shoes of the uninsured driver and compensate you, your family member or passengers for the injuries sustained as a result of the crash. Your insurance company is responsible to pay for all damages, up to the limit of your policy, including medical bills, loss of income, pain and suffering, permanent impairment, scarring and disfigurement.
UM/UIM coverage can also provide additional benefits in a situation where the at-fault driver’s bodily injury limits are insufficient to fully compensate you for the injuries and damages sustained as a result of the crash. In Colorado, drivers are only required to carry liability coverage of $25,000 per person/$50,000 per incident. In crashes resulting in serious injuries, this is insufficient to fully compensate an injured party.
If you find yourself in a situation where the at-fault driver’s bodily injury limits are insufficient to fully compensate you for your injuries, your insurance company will be called upon to compensate you for any damages that exceed the policy limits of the at-fault driver.
An added benefit of UM/UIM coverage is that it follows you and your household members. This means that if you are involved in an accident involving any motor vehicle, such as a car vs. bicycle collision or car vs. pedestrian collision, your UM/UIM coverage could be used to compensate you for damages. It can also be used if you sustain injuries as a passenger in someone else’s vehicle.
Colorado Requirements for UM/UIM Coverage
Colorado law requires insurers to offer UM/UIM coverage limits equal to the bodily injury limits each insured chooses for their policy. The coverage can be rejected or decreased to an amount lower than the bodily injury limits, but this typically must be done in writing. Since this coverage is intended to provide you and your family with added protection, we never recommend rejecting UM/UIM coverage. Instead, drivers should carefully consider their limits for this coverage and carry the highest possible limit available for your policy and your budget.
Factors to Keep in Mind When Choosing Your UM/UIM Coverage
Despite the fact that auto insurance is required in Colorado, there are many drivers on our roads who choose to ignore the law and drive while uninsured. According to research performed by the Insurance Research Council, one out of every six motorists in the state of Colorado was driving without insurance coverage in 2012, one of the highest rates in the nation. Given the high rate of uninsured drivers on Colorado roads, it’s important to make sure you and your family are protected with sufficient UM/UIM coverage on your own policy.
If you’re not sure if you are protected, take a close look at your insurance policy today or call your agent to discuss your coverages and ways you can better protect you and your family in the future. Don’t wait until you’ve been seriously injured to discover that your own insurance isn’t sufficient to make you whole.
Visit the Law Office of Jennifer L. Donaldson’s site to find out what to do in the unfortunate event that you are involved in a motor vehicle collision with an uninsured or underinsured driver. We are here to help you navigate these unfortunate circumstances, and work towards a solution. Fill out our online form, or call Law Office of Jennifer L. Donaldson at 303-458-5000 for more information.