Houston Uninsured/Underinsured Motorist Claims Attorney
Uninsured and Underinsured Accidents
There are over 4.1 million uninsured drivers on the road in the State of Texas according to the Texas Department of Public Safety. If you are involved in an uninsured motorist accident, the odds of you getting the money to cover your medical expenses and damages out of those uninsured drivers is very low. Thus, if you are involved in an uninsured motorist accident, you are often stuck looking to your own insurance.
What is Uninsured Motorist Insurance?
Uninsured motorist insurance (UM) is a type of auto insurance that you purchase to protect yourself and your family against drivers who have no insurance. Uninsured motorist insurance coverage kicks in to cover losses from an accident that you can prove are caused by another’s negligence when the negligent party has no insurance at all. In order to recover under your uninsured motorist insurance policy, you must prove that an uninsured motorist caused you damages by his/her negligence and that he/she had no liability insurance to cover it. Furthermore, you must prove the amount of those damages.
What is Underinsured Motorist Coverage?
Underinsured motorist insurance (UIM) is a type of auto insurance that you purchase to provide you with additional money when you are hit by someone who has insurance but not enough to pay for all of your damages. Current Texas law requires that drivers carry a minimum of only $30,000.00 per person and $60,000 per incident in liability insurance coverage. With today’s rising costs of medical care, $30,000.00 is often not enough to cover an injured victim’s damages who has been seriously injured in a car accident. Underinsured motorist insurance kicks in and pays for additional damages after the other driver’s insurance has been exhausted after an accident that they caused.
What is the Difference Between Uninsured and Underinsured Coverage?
Uninsured coverage pays in a collision when the negligent driver has no insurance whereas underinsured coverage pays when a negligent driver hits you and has insurance but not enough to cover your damages. The two are typically sold as one policy in Texas, but they do differ.
One thing you need to be aware of regarding underinsured motorist insurance coverage is that you must seek and obtain permission to settle with the tortfeasor from the underinsured motorist insurance company before you settle your case and sign a release or you could waive your right to file a claim. This is just one of several mistakes you cannot afford to make in making your claim.
Why Do I Need the Underinsured Motorist (UIM) Insurance Company’s Permission to Settle With the Other Driver Who Caused the Accident?
In every underinsured motorist policy, there is a clause that requires you to ask the underinsured motorist insurance carrier’s permission before you settle with any third-party that may be liable, including the at-fault driver. Failure to do so can delay or even void your ability to recover underinsured motorist benefits.
The reason for this is that the underinsured motorist insurance provider has a right to go after the party who caused the accident to get any money they pay you back. If you settle with that person and release them from liability, you will have waived your underinsured motorist insurance provider’s right to go after that person.
How Do I Get My UIM Insurance Carrier’s Permission To Settle?
In order to obtain your UIM carrier’s permission to settle, you should send a letter in writing to your UIM carrier that states:
‘I was in an automobile collision on (date). I anticipate that the liability insurance carrier will be offering their insurance policy limits and that I will be filing a UIM claim. I am requesting that you investigate this matter and provide me with written permission to settle for the insured’s policy limits without prejudicing my right to file a UIM claim.’
Your insurance company may request that you provide a declarations page or proof of coverage from the other insurance to prove the amount of the policy. You will need to request this from the liability insurance carrier.
Is Uninsured/Underinsured Motorist Insurance Coverage Required in Texas?
Texas law requires that insurance companies offer uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage to all drivers. This is achieved by requiring that uninsured/underinsured motorist insurance coverage be provided unless the policyholder specifically signs a waiver of this coverage. Many fly-by-night insurance companies will try to get you to sign that waive without fully explaining what it is. This is the way you protect yourself and your family so you should never waive this coverage.
Is Having Uninsured/Underinsured Motorist Coverage Enough?
Just because you have uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage does not mean that they will automatically pay when you are in an accident. Every policy contains coverage defenses. For example, unnamed and under-aged persons may be excluded from coverage. Also, when a vehicle runs you off the road but makes ‘no contact’ you are not covered by uninsured motorist coverage. There are numerous reasons your own insurance policy may deny your claim. Remember, they are in the business of collecting premiums, not paying claims. Just because they are your own insurance company does not mean they will look out for your rights. You should speak to a personal injury lawyer who handles uninsured/underinsured motorist claims before speaking to an adjuster. More specifically, you should NEVER give a recorded statement to your own insurance company without your own lawyer present.
At Simmons and Fletcher, P.C. we handle numerous underinsured and uninsured motorist insurance policy claims from the beginning all the way through trial. In this era when the insurance companies have such strong influence to draft laws and obtain court rulings that allow them to reduce your life to a ‘business decision,’ you need a lawyer experienced in automobile uninsured/underinsured motorist insurance claims. Call us for a free consultation with one of our uninsured motorist accident lawyers. Our attorneys are here to fight for you. There is no charge for the initial consultation. We are contingency fee attorneys–there is no fee or expense to you unless we make a recovery.
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