After a car accident, you may wonder who is responsible for your damages. However, what if the at-fault driver does not have enough or any coverage to reimburse you? Even though it is illegal to be uninsured, there are many motorists who still drive without car insurance.
Since they could not afford any or better insurance coverage, they likely do not have assets to cover any losses you incurred. However, insurance companies offer coverage for this situation. In fact, many states require drivers to carry uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage, while some require both. In Delaware, it is not required to have uninsured motorist coverage, but it is beneficial to add it to your policy.
Uninsured/underinsured insurance coverage comes in two different forms: bodily injury and property damage coverage. Both cover you against drivers who do not have insurance, have minimal insurance, refuse to give their insurance information, or leave the scene of the accident. It is recommended to carry uninsured/underinsured coverage for bodily injuries. Personal injury protection (PIP) and similar policies are likely not enough to cover severe injuries.
Property damage coverage is meant to cover the damages your vehicle sustained in the accident. It could also cover rental car expenses, additional repairs, or any out-of-pocket costs related to the accident. Like bodily injury coverage, some states require property damage protection from uninsured/underinsured drivers.
It is important to note that uninsured/underinsured coverage will not exceed the amount your primary coverage allows. For instance, you may only have up to $100,000 uninsured/underinsured coverage if your main policy has a $100,000 liability limit. This prevents drivers from purchasing minimal primary coverage.
Following a car accident, it is best to contact your insurance company as soon as possible. It is necessary in all car accident scenarios, even if you believe the other driver does not have insurance. There is a specific deadline to file this type of claim, which is normally 30 days from the date of the accident. Additionally, let the insurance agent know you intend to file the claim under the uninsured/underinsured policy.
The process is generally the same as any other insurance claim, but it may take a little longer to receive compensation. The insurance company may have a different figure to cover your expenses. This is where issues arise when dealing with your own insurance company.
The main difference between using the uninsured clause of your insurance policy compared to suing the at-fault driver is that you are in negotiations with your own insurer. This also entails your insurer going through all your medical records, car driving history, vehicle history, and may require you to go to their doctor or their vehicle repair shop. They may also question any additional expenses you feel are necessary for your recovery. Although going through your own insurance may seem easier, it may be more difficult to handle, particularly if your insurer does not cover all of your expenses.
The insurance company may offer you a settlement or suggest you go through arbitration, which is more informal than the court system. However, should your insurance company decline coverage or is not willing to cover all of your damages, then it is best to contact a reputable lawyer.
There are many important steps to take following a car accident. One of those steps is to contact your insurance company to report the accident. Many states follow a variation of a no-fault insurance policy, where each driver would use their own insurance policy to cover their damages, regardless of who is at fault. Should an accident occur, you simply contact your insurance company and file a claim to get expenses covered.
In Delaware, you must have car insurance in order to operate a vehicle. With PIP coverage, insurance policies must cover a minimum of $15,000 of expenses per person involved in the accident. Also, a motorist can sue the at-fault driver for damages, such as pain and suffering, but they may not seek reimbursement for lost wages or medical expenses that are otherwise covered under their PIP policy.
Any accident can be difficult to deal with, especially if the other driver does not have insurance coverage. However, our uninsured motorist accident attorneys at Jacobs & Crumplar, P.A. can help. Call us today at 302-656-5445 or fill out our online form for a free consultation. We are conveniently located in Wilmington and Millsboro, Delaware, and we proudly serve clients throughout Dover, New Castle County, and Sussex County.