Uninsured/Under-insured Motorist Arbitration

Uninsured Under-insured Motorist Protection (UM)

Uninsured and Under-insured Protection is vital! If you have been involved in a motor vehicle accident caused by someone who was uninsured or had minimal insurance and if you have the coverage you can make a claim with your own insurance company.

Here are some details:

Uninsured/Under-insured Motorist Protection (UM)

These type benefits provide coverage to protect you and/or those who are passengers in your vehicle. Among other things, these benefits provide for payment of damages incurred as a result of an at-fault driver who has no liability insurance, a phantom driver, a hit-and-run driver, or a driver who fails to carry enough insurance to pay for your expenses.

The two types of coverage are as follows:

Uninsured Motorist Coverage. This type of insurance is optional and offered by your automobile insurance carrier. If you are involved in a hit and run accident or an accident with someone who does not have insurance, then damages can be paid under your own uninsured motorist coverage.

Under-insured Motorist Coverage. This coverage goes hand-in-hand with your uninsured motorist coverage. In the event that the responsible party does not have adequate insurance coverage to compensate you for your injuries, you may be entitled to additional coverage on your own policy.

For example, if the person responsible has liability limits of only $25,000, the most you can claim from their insurance carrier is $25,000.00 per person. If you sustained serious injuries and incurred significant medical expenses, the value of your case could well exceed $25,000.00. If you have $100,000/$300,000 uninsured coverage after you collect $25,000.00 from the at-fault party, you will be able to pursue an additional $75,000.00 from you own under-insured motorist insurance.

The following video discusses uninsured drivers and why it's important to have this type of coverage:

Frequently Asked QuestionsQ: How much can I get?

A: You determine the amount of coverage you want. That is, California does not require drivers to purchase this coverage, and the amount of insurance available for such claims is determined by you in any pre-existing contract of insurance between you and your insurance company. So, for example, if you opted to purchase uninsured benefits in the amount $15,000, and you sustain an injury caused by an uninsured driver, you can collect only up to $15,000 from your own insurance company to pay for damages. That is, whether your medical bills are $15,000 or $1,000,000, you will only be entitled to collect $15,000 from your insurance company under your uninsured policy.

We recommend you minimally carry $100,000 per individual/$300,000 per incident in coverage. In many cases, if you can afford it, you should obtain even higher coverage.

Q: How long can I get uninsured benefits?

A: There are no limits as to the length of time your coverage is available under your uninsured policy benefits, but you must file suit or demand arbitration proceedings with your own carrier no later than two years after the date of the accident or you can and likely will be forever barred from pursuing the claim. However, you will be covered only up to the amount of uninsured policy benefits.

So, for example, if you sustain a life-threatening injury requiring emergency care and critical care hospitalization, and you have uninsured policy benefits in the maximum amount $100,000, you could conceivably exhaust your uninsured benefits within a very short time.

Alternatively, if you sustain an injury requiring a lengthy rehabilitative program and course of treatment, you could conceivably receive benefits for an indefinite period of time, but only up to the $100,000 policy maximum, and assuming you demanded arbitration within the two (2) year period described above.

Q: How do I file my claims under uninsured benefits?

A: The claim must be submitted to your own insurance company, see Insurance Code Section 11580, et c. Just as in claims against at-fault parties, there are time limits in which you must file suit if making a formal claim.

Q: How do I file my claims for uninsured/uninsured benefits?

A: The claim must be submitted to your own insurance company within two years and in compliance with Insurance Code Section 11580.

Q: I was riding on a bicycle and was hit by an uninsured motorist. I have severe injuries. Can I collect under uninsured motorist insurance?

A: If you, a member of your family, or even a roommate has a car with Uninsured Motorist Insurance, you can likely tap that insurance to recover. Please feel free to contact us if you are in that situation.

Q: I was a pedestrian walking across a street and a driver who was hit and run stuck and injured me. Can I recover?

A: If you had an auto with auto insurance and uninsured motorist coverage (and most people do) you have a right to recover against your own uninsured motorist coverage. ( And don’t worry, your rates won’t go up!)

If you didn't have a car, but someone else in your household did and they had uninsured motorist coverage, then, in most cases you can recover against their policy. (Again don’t worry, their rates won’t go up either. In California, your rates only go up if you were at fault in the accident.

Q: I was in a car wreck, the other party was at fault but had only minimal coverage and I had serious injuries. Do I have any other options to recover?

A: You may. If you had Uninsured/Underinsured Motorist coverage in excess of the minimum limits after you recover from the at-fault party, you have an option to recover additional damages from your own uninsured/underinsured motorist insurance.

Additionally, if the other driver was driving a company vehicle or a car owned by someone other than the driver, you may have a right of recovery against that person as well as the driver.

Q: If another car forces me off the road, and I crash into a median barrier can I make a claim under my Uninsured Motorist insurance?

A: It depends. California law requires that there be contact between the uninsured car (or sometimes if something falls off or out of that car) and your vehicle. So if the car that forced you off the road made contact with yours, even if ever so slightly, you will have an uninsured motorist case.

NOTE: You cannot purchase uninsured/under-insured coverage in an amount greater than the amount of your liability coverage. That is, your liability coverage is the principal basis for uninsured/ underinsured insurance. So, if you maintain a state-mandated minimum liability policy of $15,000, you cannot obtain more than $15,000 in coverage for uninsured/under-insured coverage.

Sacramento Car Accident Lawyer

I'm Ed Smith, a Sacramento Car Accident Lawyer. If you or a loved one has been injured in a vehicle accident caused by someone who's uninsured or has minimal coverage, call us at 916.921.6400 or 800.404.5400 for free, friendly advice. 

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I am a member of the Million Dollar Advocates Forum and the National Association of Distinguished Counsel.

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Editor’s Note: This page has been updated for accuracy and relevancy [cha 8.16.19]

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