While no one leaves home with the intent of getting into an auto-accident, the increasing U.S. population and corresponding number of vehicles on the road make your likelihood of being involved in an auto related accident incredibly high.  While in some cases the cause will be your own action or inaction, many times it will be the other driver who is found to be at fault.

From minor fender benders to major collisions, auto accidents can cause immense damage to both personal property and your physical person.  Ideally in this situation each motorist involved in the accident will have insurance sufficient to cover their individual liability.  When this isn’t the case uninsured or underinsured motorist coverage may need to step in to help make you whole.

What is Underinsured and Uninsured Motorist Coverage?

When the driver that is wholly or partially at fault in an auto accident is uninsured, uninsured motorist coverage will step in to make sure the non-liable party is made whole.  Underinsured motorist coverage operates in a similar way covering any damage done to the non-at-fault driver when the at-fault driver’s policy limits are insufficient to pay for the damage.

Underinsured motorist insurance requires the policy limits of the at-fault driver to be exhausted before coverage kicks in.  Both uninsured and underinsured motorist coverage is purchased as part of your regular automobile insurance package and is typically an added monthly charge with most insurers.  You can purchase “reduced” UM coverage or “excess” aka “add-on” UM coverage.  What is reduced UM coverage? It is when you subtract your UM from the at fault driver’s insurance and you are left with that amount as your UM.

What is Covered?

Similar to traditional insurance, any damage that occurs as a result of the automobile accident will be covered with underinsured and uninsured motorist coverage.  This can include damage done to your automobile or your physical person and will also pay for damage to personal or real property.

When an insurance company pays out on this type of policy they sometimes look to subrogate or independently go after the at-fault driver to recoup the amount they pay out.  In some instances, the insurance company may choose not to seek subrogation given the low likelihood of recovery due to the financial condition of uninsured or uninsured motorists.  This will not impact the holder of the uninsured or underinsured motorist policy’s ability to receive payment or coverage.

What You Need to Know About Medical Payments Coverage

Medical payments coverage is another form of optional, supplemental insurance coverage that may help insureds in the event of an accident.  Medical payments coverage can help with medical or funeral expenses in the event of an accident.  This type of insurance generally is supplemental to your primary health insurance, meaning that it kicks in to cover any costs or expenses that your day to day policy may not.  Medical payments coverage may also cover expenses if you or a passenger is killed in the event of an accident.

Some states that apply no fault rules to accident liability require you to carry a form of medical payments coverage called personal injury protections or PIP.  In these states, PIP is built into your main policy.  It still may be a good idea to carry medical payments policy in a non-fault, PIP required state as medical payments coverage will kick in to cover any deficiencies once the limits of your PIP policy are reached.  Georgia does not have PIP coverage.

While we, as an auto accident lawyer Brookhaven GA trusts, have attempted to cover the basics of common forms of supplemental automobile coverage, it’s important to understand that every automobile accident is unique.  The individual facts and circumstances of your particular crash may affect your liability or ability to recover funds to make yourself and your property whole.  When involved in an accident with an uninsured or underinsured motorist you should always feel free to contact a qualified legal professional to discuss your case and protect your rights.

Butler TobinThanks to our friends and contributors from Butler Tobin for their insight into uninsured, underinsured, and medical payments coverage.