NYC Uninsured Underinsured Motorist Coverage
Approximately 14 percent of all drivers in the country do not have the required minimum auto insurance coverage, according to the Insurance Journal. In New York State, the percentage is lower, but there are still five percent of drivers are driving without insurance coverage.
Car insurance is required by law not only to provide financial protection for the insured, but also to provide protection for those who might be injured in a car accident caused by the insured. If you are the innocent victim of a car crash caused by someone else’s negligence, the driver who caused the accident could be made to pay for your losses under New York law. Car insurance ensures that the person who hurt you has money available to compensate you.
If someone does not have insurance despite the laws that require it, it can be very difficult for you to obtain compensation after a crash. You may also have a hard time recovering compensation for your losses in situations where, although you were seriously hurt, the driver who caused the crash carried only the minimum limits.
In these situations, your best option might be to make a claim under the uninsured or underinsured motorist (UM/UIM) coverage on your own policy. A New York City accident lawyer can help.
What is Underinsured or Uninsured Motorist Coverage?
If you are seriously hurt in a car crash that was caused by another driver, you could be entitled to file a claim against that driver. His or her liability insurance policy could pay damages to you to cover your medical costs, lost wages, pain and suffering, emotional distress and other losses.
Unfortunately, some at-fault drivers carry no insurance or not enough to cover all of your damages. The driver may have purchased only the minimum liability coverage, which is $25,000 per person and $50,000 per accident in New York. If your losses exceed $25,000, then you will not be able to obtain full compensation from the at-fault driver’s insurer. In this case, you could make a claim through your own underinsured motorist (UIM) coverage. If the driver had no insurance at all, or if you were in a hit-and-run crash, then your claim could be made through your uninsured motorist (UM) coverage.
UM/UIM claims involve your insurance company essentially standing in for the driver who hurt you. Without UM/UIM coverage, your only option might be to sue the at-fault driver directly and hope that he or she has the money or assets to pay you. Usually, the other driver does not have enough money, and an accident victim could be left with no one to pay the bills.
New York law requires every driver to purchase uninsured motorist coverage. You must buy UM coverage with limits of at least $25,000 per person and $50,000 per accident. Insurance companies generally group underinsured and uninsured motorist coverage together, so you purchase one policy that covers both situations. When buying insurance, you should consider purchasing more than the minimum required UM/UIM coverage.
Making a UIM Claim in a New York Accident
You make UM or UIM claims with your own insurance company. You must contact the insurer, let them know how the accident happened and demonstrate that the other driver did not have sufficient insurance to cover your losses. You will also need to show that the other driver was to blame for your crash.
The insurance company may require a great deal of documentation from you to prove that you are eligible to make a claim and to prove the extent of your damages. It is a good idea to have an attorney assist you in gathering evidence, making a claim and dealing with the insurance company. This is because insurance companies do not look out for your best interests.
Insurance companies often look for reasons to deny claims so they can save money. Even when an insurer pays on a claim, the goal is to get you to settle for as little as possible. Your goal, of course, is to get full and fair compensation for your losses. The insurance company will have experts working to help it meet its goals, and you should have your own knowledgeable legal advocate working to help you achieve yours.
A New York Uninsured Motorist Accident Lawyer Can Help
If you have been hit by an underinsured or uninsured driver, you should consult a New York City car accident attorney.
Your lawyer can assist you in:
- Looking for all potential sources of insurance coverage.
- Understanding the coverage available through your insurer.
- Gathering evidence necessary to prove your claim for damages.
- Negotiating a fair and reasonable settlement with the insurance company.
- Reviewing a settlement offer to verify that the insurance company is living up to its obligations to you.
If an insurance company unfairly denies your claim or treats you wrongfully in handling your claim, this could be considered a violation of a term of your contract called the “implied covenant of good faith and fair dealing.” This is a formal legal way of saying that the insurance company is obligated to act fairly when evaluating and paying a claim.
When an insurance company doesn’t act fairly, this behavior is called “bad faith.” You could be entitled to file a bad faith lawsuit against your insurer in order to obtain monetary damages for its wrongful acts. The compensation you could recover in these cases could include not just the money the insurer should have paid on your claim, but also payments for additional damages and punitive damages. The payout may, in some cases, exceed your policy limits.
To learn more about uninsured and underinsured claims and for information on how a New York City accident lawyer can help you, contact David Resnick & Associates, P.C., for a free consultation. Call 212-279-2000 today or fill out our online contact form.