What is Uninsured Motorist Coverage.
Uninsured motorist coverage (UM) is a category of insurance that provides compensation for losses as a result of an automobile accident with an uninsured motorist.
In order to be eligible for UM benefits under your policy, you must prove that the other driver was responsible for causing the accident and that they were uninsured. If you prove this, then your UM coverage will pay for the damages that the uninsured motorist caused. This includes the damages to your vehicle as well as losses for any personal injuries you sustained in the accident.
What is an “Uninsured” Motorist?
Texas Transportation Code, §601.051 et. seq. requires that a vehicle being operated on the roads be covered with liability coverage. This coverage is required in order to make sure that drivers have the “financial responsibility” to cover any losses caused as a result of a collision in which they may be held liable.
No Insurance at All.
The unfortunate reality is that many people do not follow the law and choose not to carry the required liability insurance. It is estimated that 1 out of every 5 vehicles being driven on our Texas roadways do not have the required liability coverage. If a vehicle is not covered by the minimum required insurance coverage, then it is considered “uninsured” for purposes on UM coverage.
Another way someone may be considered uninsured is when the driver is excluded from the policy that covers the vehicle being driven. This happens many times when a person or family member, like a teenager or someone with a bad driving record, lives in the same household as the vehicle owner.
If the insurance company chooses to insure the vehicle in a household with several other drivers, then they may require that the vehicle owner pay the higher premiums for everyone that lives in the household. However, if someone in the household is a high risk, then the insurance rates may be too expensive.
To resolve this issue, the insurance company may require that one or more of the other household residents be excluded from coverage under the policy. This means that, if the vehicle is being operated by an excluded driver, then the vehicle is considered uninsured just as if it never had liability coverage at all.
Another way a vehicle may be uninsured is if the policy that was in effect expired before the collision occurred. There are many ways a policy may expire. But the most common way is by failure to pay the premiums. If you fail to pay your premiums, then the liability coverage may be cancelled.
Additionally, every insurance policy has an expiration date. It may be month-to-month, every six months, or maybe every year. If you fail to renew your policy, then it will automatically expire and the vehicle will become uninsured on the date and time referenced in the policy.
UM Coverage is Automatically Included, Unless Rejected.
Under Texas Insurance Code §1952.001 et seq. every auto insurance policy must provide for UM coverage in the minimum amounts required under the law. However, if the coverage is rejected, in writing, then the insurance company is not required to provide it. In other words, unless you specifically reject UM coverage in writing, then you automatically have the coverage even if you never paid a dime for it.
I have run into many situations where my client was hit by an uninsured motorist and they thought they didn’t have UM coverage because they never bought it. Regardless, I encourage my clients to report the claim anyway and confirm if their insurance company has a written rejection on file. Although it is not very common, I have had cases where the insurance company is unable to produce the UM rejection form. Therefore, my clients are happily surprised to find that they may get coverage for the vehicle damages and injuries even though they never specifically purchased UM coverage.
Final ThoughtsUnfortunately, uninsured motorists are a reality and you might want to protect yourself by having UM coverage in place when you need it. I have seen too many clients end up having to come out of pocket because they didn’t have uninsured motorist coverage. Therefore, it is always a good idea to have UM coverage so that you can get the compensation for your damages and injuries after a car accident.
Fighting for injured Texans in the Dallas / Fort Worth area has been the focus of my practice since 1995. It’s not a gimmick or a sideline. It’s my specialty.
If you have been injured, get the representation from an attorney who know the ropes of D/FW area. Robert C. Slim has been helping injured Texans get the compensation and justice they deserve. The consultation is absolutely free. And there are never any fees or expenses owed until you collect on your case.