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Uninsured Motorist/ Underinsured Motorist

What is Uninsured Motorist/UInderinsured Motorist? 

California auto insurance policies can include optional uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage. The UM/UIM policy covers the medical bills of an at-fault driver if the other driver has no insurance or does not have enough coverage to cover all the injury victim's losses.


California law requires UMC/UIM coverage. However, the coverage is optional. Purchase is usually advisable. All drivers in California must maintain a minimum liability insurance coverage limit of "15/30/5". The state has the highest number of uninsured drivers. Uninsured motorists typically have lower assets and income than insured motorists. A person injured in California is often unable to obtain compensation from an uninsured or underinsured driver for medical expenses, lost wages, car repair costs, pain and suffering, and other losses that resulted from the accident.

Uninsured Motorist Insurance Coverage

Uninsured Motorist Insurance Coverage

California requires drivers to have "15/30/5" liability insurance. A 15/30/5 policy means that if the insured is at fault in an auto accident, the insurer will pay up to: $15,000 for bodily injury coverage or death per person, $30,000 for total bodily injury or death per accident (to all people in the other vehicle combined), and $5,000 for property damage (collision coverage) to the other vehicle.

In California, the minimum insurance limits are 15/30/5. You can, however, purchase higher limits. For example, some companies offer up to $100,000 in damages per person and $300,000 for total damages in an accident. The premiums for such insurance are usually too high for many drivers to afford. In the aftermath of an accident, medical expenses and other damages are typically paid by insurance companies or government programs like Medicare and Medi-Cal.


Under California law, insurers are required to provide coverage for accidents caused by uninsured drivers. This is known as uninsured motorist coverage. UMBI refers to uninsured motorist bodily injury, while UMPD refers to uninsured motorist property damage.


Even when they pay for insurance, California drivers often opt for the minimum level of coverage. Most damage claims are too low to cover, especially for minor fender benders. The failure of these systems is more evident when more than one occupant is involved in a serious accident.


When the other driver does not have enough insurance coverage to cover the damages exceeding the at-fault driver's policy limits, the underinsured motorist coverage covers the damages.

Umc/Uim Policy Limits 

Umc/Uim Policy Limits 

California insurers generally offer uninsured/underinsured policy limits equal to a driver's liability policy limit. In other words, if an individual purchases 50/100 policy limits for accidents they cause, they can normally do the same for accidents caused by another driver who is underinsured or uninsured.


Uninsured or underinsured motorists in California cannot sue for more than their policy limits. An umbrella policy provides additional protection. 


A California umbrella policy provides coverage above and beyond what is provided by UMC/UIM coverage. Any policy of insurance with a maximum limit can cover excess losses under umbrella policies. Excess losses under any policy of insurance can be covered by these policies, which are relatively inexpensive.


Consult your insurance broker for more information. If you have a suitable health plan or disability insurance policy, you don't need to waive uninsured motorist coverage.

Submitting a Claim

Submitting a Claim

Most insurance policies require a driver to notify their insurer as soon as possible after an accident, regardless of who was at fault. In some cases, exceptions are made, such as when there are no injuries and only minor damage to the insured's vehicle. A California accident report SR-1 must be filed by people who are involved in an accident resulting in injuries or vehicle damage exceeding $1,000 with the California Department of Motor Vehicles within 10 days of the accident. California law requires that the DMV be notified if the driver's license is suspended.


Once an accident has been reported, the insurer determines fault based on the police report (if there is one), witness statements, photographs, and a review of the insured's vehicle. However, the insurer's decision is not final. Plaintiffs can sue their insurers to challenge their decisions. Because California's comparative fault law allows for a claim to be filed even if an insured is partially to blame for an accident. Those partially responsible for an accident may be able to recover a portion of the damages.

Recovering Damages

Recovering Damages From UnInsured Motorist 

After an accident, most people have their injuries taken care of through private or government health insurance. If there are any proceeds from the uninsured motorist policy, health insurers are entitled to be reimbursed. A California insurer's right to subrogation is known as subrogation.


Californians often buy optional "Med Pay" insurance because of this reason. No matter who is at fault for an accident, Med Pay covers injuries to both the driver and passengers. The policyholder is also covered for injuries sustained while that person is a passenger in another person's vehicle or while walking on a street.


Subrogation is not allowed for amounts paid through Med Pay. Moreover, Med Pay premiums tend to be quite affordable. Most companies limit their maximum medical payments to $10,000 ($10,000 is a typical limit). Drivers who can afford uninsured motorist coverage should still consider it.


Drivers who need more coverage than their UMC/UIM policy will be able to purchase a California umbrella policy. Those without health insurance may be able to find a doctor, chiropractor, or other health provider in California who will accept payment on a medical lien basis.


I work with a network of doctors, chiropractors, physical therapists, and other providers who may be willing to accept a medical lien following a California accident.

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