By ALLEN MCQUISTON
The Jemez Agency
Since nearly every state in the United States requires some minimum level of liability insurance to operate a motor vehicle, you may be left wondering why they would need to purchase uninsured motorists coverage.
Unfortunately, we all know that just because the law says we’re supposed to do something, doesn’t mean that everyone will. According to the Insurance Research Council (IRC), it’s estimated that 14 percent of drivers nationally are uninsured, and in New Mexico it is estimated that up to 30 percent of all drivers lack automobile insurance.
So, what is uninsured motorists coverage? Uninsured motorists, or UM coverage provides insurance protection for bodily injury, and in some states property damage, caused by a motorist who is not insured. It provides benefits for you, your family membersand other that are passengers in your car for injuries sustained in your own covered auto or as a pedestrian.
Thinking about chancing it? Maybe you’ll be lucky enough to not get hit by an uninsured motorist? As I mentioned before, uninsured motorists coverage not only provides protection for you while you’re operating a vehicle, but also when you’re a pedestrian.
To help drive home (excuse the pun) the importance of this coverage, think about this real example: a bicyclist was riding through an intersection when a van ran the red light. It didn’t kill him, but the young man’s head bounced off the van window, leaving him with multiple facial lacerations and busting out almost all of his teeth. The van drove away, and no one was able to track down the driver The young man had to have multiple surgeries to his mouth and face. Fortunately for him, he carried $250,000 worth of uninsured motorists coverage which paid for the majority of his injuries.
Equally important is underinsured motorists coverage, which provides insurance protection for bodily injury, and in some states property damage, sustained by you when a motorist who has liability insurance but not a sufficient amount, negligently causes an accident. Consider this: if you were permanently injured by a driver in our state where the minimum financial responsibility law requires limits of $25,000 per person / $50,000 per accident / $10,000 property damage would that be enough to cover lifelong medical care? Of course not. That’s why it’s so important to purchase an adequate amounts of underinsured motorists coverage.
I feel this coverage is so important, that our agency will not allow anyone to waive this coverage. Remember, even if you feel you have adequate health and disability coverage to take care of any long term health needs that result from an auto accident, the person riding in your car may not. Review your insurance policy, then consult with your insurance agent about adequate amounts of uninsured and underinsured motorists coverage to assure you’re covered even when the other person is not.