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What is Uninsured/Underinsured Motorist Coverage?

Everyone knows you’re supposed to have car insurance. Everyone knows you can get into trouble if you’re caught driving without it. But car insurance is expensive, and it can lapse.  And in reality, in a state as large as California – and in a city as vast as Los Angeles, driving isn’t a luxury – it is a necessity. So a lot of people drive even though they don’t have car insurance or they have minimal coverage.

Now, you may be thinking that isn’t your problem. And you’re right. It isn’t – until a driver with little or no insurance causes a motor vehicle accident in which you get hurt. After all, if someone can only afford a minimal policy or they can’t afford any, how can you realistically expect them to compensate you for your injuries?

Fortunately, that’s where uninsured/underinsured (UM/UIMcoverage comes in – if you have it.

California car insurance laws

In California, everyone has to show some sort of “financial responsibility” for his or her vehicle(s). This is legally required in case they are involved in an accident resulting in personal injuries and/or property damage.

Contrary to popular belief, getting car insurance is not the only way to meet this requirement. The registered owner can also give the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) a $35,000 deposit , get a self-insured certificate from the DMV, or get insurance in the form of a $35,000 surety bondfrom a company licensed to do business here.

Given that, it is easy to see why most people choose traditional car insurance. However, not all car insurance is acceptable proof of financial responsibility. For example, a simple collision policy does not meet the legal requirements. For that matter, comprehensive insurance doesn’t meet them, either.

Instead, you must have a liability policy that provides no less than:

  • $15,000 for injury/death to one person.
  • $30,000 for injury/death to more than one person.
  • $5,000 for property damage.

Uninsured and underinsured coverage

Legally, all car insurance providers must offerunderinsured and uninsured coverage to California car owners. However, you do not have to accept it. If you do not want this type of coverage, you must sign a form called a waiver. By signing the waiver, you confirm that the insurance company offered this type of coverage and you are declining it.

However, having this type of coverage is worthwhile. This is because UI coverage pays for your costs after an accident caused by an uninsured driver. UIM coverage pays for any remaining costs stemming from accident caused by a driver who doesn’t have enough insurance.

More specifically, an uninsured motorist bodily injury policy covers medical costs incurred in an accident caused by a driver with no insurance.  However,  the amount of coverage is the same as your liability coverage. Additionally, an uninsured motorist property damage policy will cover any repairs and is capped at $3,500. It only kicks in if the other driver is identified, and it may be unnecessary if you have collision coverage. Finally, it is important to note that UIM only covers medical costs.

Contact a Los Angeles UI/UIM coverage lawyer today

To learn more about your legal options if you were involved in an accident with an uninsured driver, or with a driver who has only minimal coverage, contact LawPLA, today. You can do that by using the form on our website, or calling us directly. In either case, we are happy to schedule a free initial consultation to address your questions and concerns.


PLEASE NOTE: This is not a representation, warranty, or guarantee of a future result or outcome. Every case is different just like every one of our clients.