Imagine if you were seriously injured in a motor vehicle accident that was caused by the fault of another. Then imagine that you discover that the responsible driver either did not have any motor vehicle insurance or had minimum limits of insurance coverage that would not properly compensate you for your injuries and damages. Further imagine that the person responsible for causing your accident did not have any assets to satisfy any judgment that might be obtained. What can you do to protect yourself from financial ruin?
In Connecticut, motor vehicle owners are required to carry minimum limits of motor vehicle liability insurance coverage of 20/40. This means that if one person is injured in an accident caused by the fault of another then the most that person can collect from the insurance carrier is $20,000. If multiple parties are involved in one accident, then the most that all of those parties could collect is $40,000.
Unfortunately, when people look to obtain motor vehicle insurance they tend to look no further than the cost to acquire this coverage. As a result, many people purchase the minimum limits of liability coverage. Far worse, many people choose to operate a motor vehicle when they do not have any type of motor vehicle liability insurance.
There is a way that you can protect yourself and your family if you are involved in an accident caused by someone who either does not have any insurance or who has insufficient limits of liability coverage to properly compensate you for your injuries and damages through your uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage on your own motor vehicle insurance policy.
This coverage, UM/UIM, as it is frequently referred to, pays for injuries to you, your passengers, and certain family members who were injured by another driver who is at fault but does not carry any liability insurance coverage (an uninsured motorist or UM claim) or does not have sufficient insurance coverage to properly compensate you for your losses and damages (an underinsured motorist, or UIM claim).
UM/UIM coverage is one of the most important types of insurance you can have under your motor vehicle insurance policy. Buying uninsured/underinsured motorist protection is like buying a liability insurance coverage policy for every driver on the road. The premium for this type of insurance coverage is relatively modest in comparison to the protection it can provide.
There are two types of UM/UIM coverage you can purchase: straight coverage; and conversion coverage. Straight UM/UIM coverage allows your carrier to obtain a deduction from your policy limits for the amount paid by the at fault driver. Conversion coverage does allow your carrier a deduction for any amounts paid by the responsible party's insurance coverage.
By way of example, let's assume that you have UIM limits of $50,000, and the at fault party has $20,000 in bodily injury coverage, and your case is worth $60,000. If you had straight UIM coverage, you would receive $20,000 from the responsible party's insurance company and $30,000 from your carrier-that is, $50,000 (your UIM limits) less $20,000 (the at fault party's limits), for a total of $50,000. If you had conversion coverage, you would receive $20,000 from the responsible party and $40,000 from your carrier for a total of $60,000.
It is strongly recommended that you carry at least $500,000 of UM/UIM conversion coverage, if not more. You should also have UM/UIM limits equal to your liability insurance coverage and you should never reduce your UM/UIM limits below your liability limits. Again, you may be very surprised to learn how little this additional coverage will cost you. You should also obtain an umbrella policy of at least $1,000,000, or more.
It is important that you contact your insurance agent immediately to discuss your insurance coverage and the options available to you to determine how much it will cost you to augment your current coverage. Unfortunately, we represent far too many accident victims or persons who are seriously injured and there is not enough insurance coverage to properly compensate those victims for their injuries and damages. You can protect yourself from this occurrence, by purchasing sufficient limits of UM/UIM conversion coverage and an umbrella policy.
You should always consult with an experienced Connecticut personal injury lawyer before making any decisions regarding any important legal matters.
Richard P. Hastings, Esq.
Hastings, Cohan & Walsh, LLP
440 Main Street
Ridgefield, CT 06877
440 Main Street
Ridgefield, CT 06877