Since California drivers are required to carry automobile insurance, do you really need Uninsured Motorist coverage? YES. Why?
Imagine that it’s a beautiful summer day. It’s a Sunday and you are on your way to meet a friend for lunch. You are travelling on Magic Mountain Parkway in Santa Clarita, and when you reach the intersection of Magic Mountain Parkway and McBean, you stop for a red light. Then, out of no-where, a careless driver, driving at a high rate of speed, crashes into the back of your car.
You get out and exchange the requisite information with the other driver, including insurance information. Unfortunately, your car is barely drivable. So, your car is towed to a storage facility, and you are picked up by your friend.
Later that night, you feel awful. Your neck hurts, you have a pounding headache and you feel nauseated. But, you have no car. So, you call your friend and ask him or her to take you to Urgent Care. You wait for an hour to be seen, and are ultimately diagnosed with whiplash. You are prescribed anti-inflammatory medication, muscle relaxers, and are told to seek treatment with a health care provider, such as a chiropractor.
The next morning, you call the at-fault driver’s insurance company, as shown in his or her insurance card, to report the accident, to set up repairs for your car (if the car is fixable), and to ask for a rental car so you can get to the pharmacy to pick up your medication and to get to work. However, to your horror, you find out that the at-fault party’s insurance has lapsed. So, the at-fault party (the one who crashed into the back of your car) has NO INSURANCE.
Now what? You didn’t cause the car accident. In fact, you did nothing wrong but your car is probably totaled and incurring daily storage fees, you have no rental car, and you still have a pounding headache and a sore neck because of your whiplash. This is why you need Uninsured Motorist coverage.
What happens now since the at-fault driver has no insurance?
Even though motorists are required to have automobile insurance, you just found out that the driver who crashed into you allowed his or her insurance to lapse. How does this impact you?
Property damage and rental
If you have collision coverage on your own automobile policy, then you can get your car repaired (if fixable), or get a payout for the value of your car.
However, if you elected not to have collision coverage, you will have to pay out of your own pocket for repairs, if the car is fixable. But, if the car is totaled, you get nothing and have to purchase a new vehicle with your own money.
The same concept works for rental. If you have rental coverage on your policy, then you can use it to get a rental vehicle. But, if you elected not to have that coverage, you will have to pay for a rental out of your own pocket.
Luckily, you have health insurance. But, you have not met your deductible. So, you get a bill from Urgent Care. You are personally responsible to pay the Urgent Care bill.
If you have Uninsured Motorist coverage, you can submit the Urgent Care bill as part of your claim. But, if you do not have Uninsured Motorist coverage, you will not be reimbursed for the bill.
What about your treatment? You still have headaches and a stiff neck and need treatment. Who is going to pay for that? Unless you have Uninsured Motorist coverage, you will have to pay out of your own pocket!
Pain and suffering
Under the law, you are allowed to seek compensation for physical pain, mental anguish, inconvenience, etc.
You have physical pain stemming from your whiplash injury in the form of headaches and neck pain, you suffered mental anguish because you keep reliving the accident in your mind, and you have been inconvenienced by having to go to Urgent Care, taking care of your car, getting a rental, and having to take time off to go to chiropractic treatments. Who is going to pay for your pain and suffering?
If you do not have Uninsured Motorist coverage, NO ONE!
So, in simple terms, whether you live in the Santa Clarita Valley, the San Fernando Valley, or anywhere else in California, if you get into a car accident with a motorist who is not insured, and you do not have uninsured motorist coverage, you will be out in the cold!
Uninsured Motorist coverage also helps you in case the at-fault party does not have enough coverage and in cases of hit-and-run. However, those topics will be addressed in separate articles.
Regardless of insurance status, you should always seek consultation with a personal injury attorney (accident lawyer).
This article is brought to you by Mason Rashtian of The Mason Law Firm, a full service personal injury attorney and accident lawyer firm. We can be reached at (661) 476-5678. This article is meant for informational purposes only.