By Atty. Christopher Cramer
It is Saturday evening and you are on your way to meet your friend for dinner. While stopped for a red light, an uninsured driver slams into the rear of your vehicle. Immediately, you are in pain and swept away from the scene by an ambulance. The pain you feel turns out to be a serious injury, which is going to require months of care and treatment. With this weighing heavily on your mind, you find out that the person who hit you failed to obtain any automobile insurance to cover your bills, damages, and losses. Fortunately for you, however, you did have automobile insurance which included uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage to help protect you in this very situation.
On today’s roads, there are many drivers who have no insurance or have inadequate insurance. With uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage, you are able to file a claim with your own insurance company for those benefits. Uninsured motorist coverage is triggered when you are hit by another driver who has no insurance and is at fault for the accident. There are also times when a person can be in an accident with another driver who, in Connecticut, has the state minimum coverage of 20/40 ($20,000.00 per person/$40,000.00 per accident—which really means the insurance company does not have to pay more than $20,000.00 to one person and more than $40,000.00 for multiple claimants for the entire accident). Depending on the injuries, a 20/40 policy (or more) may be inadequate to afford you the proper coverage and compensation. Underinsured motorist coverage would be triggered as long as your policy limits are greater than those of the person who hit you.
In my career, I have been asked many times by my clients whether pursuing an uninsured/underinsured claim through their insurance would raise their rates. My typical response is that the reason they pay for this coverage is for these exact reasons as described above. The coverage is there to protect them from people who are not properly insured, and their insurance rates should not rise simply by pursuing these types of claims. There are also a lot of drivers who may not know what coverage they have, or if the coverage is adequate enough. If you are one of those drivers, now is a great time to contact your insurance company or pull your policy to review what coverage you do have. Do you have a 20/40 uninsured/underinsured motorist policy? If you do, believe it or not, the premium costs to bump you up to a safer 50/100, 100/300, 250/500 or more is not, in the scheme of things, a huge difference. What is huge is the protection you will have if you find yourself in the unfortunate position of being struck by an uninsured or underinsured driver.