Despite the fact that almost every state in the U.S. requires drivers to carry auto insurance, many people choose to drive without insurance. A recent study showed that the number of uninsured drivers on the road in the U.S. is on the rise. About 14.3 percent of all drivers nationwide — or about one in seven drivers — are uninsured. Five percent of drivers in New York alone do not have insurance. Additionally, a large percentage of those with insurance carry only the mandatory minimum liability coverage of $25,000.
As a result, drivers who have car insurance need to have sufficient uninsured and underinsured motorist coverage as part of their insurance policies in order to recover compensation after a serious car accident in New York. It is important for drivers to know what these insurance policies cover and how to collect on them if they get into accidents with uninsured drivers.
Definitions: Uninsured and Underinsured Motorist Coverage
Uninsured motorist claims cover auto accidents where the at-fault drivers are without insurance; the at-fault vehicles are unregistered, stolen or driven without the owners’ permission; or the at-fault drivers left the scene of the accident (hit and runs) and cannot be identified.
Underinsured motorist claims cover motor vehicle accidents where the at-fault drivers do not have enough auto insurance to cover all of the damages they cause in accidents.
Watch Video: What is the Purpose of Obtaining Uninsured or Underinsured Motorist Coverage?
Insurance Policy Requirements
New York law only requires that drivers have liability insurance coverage in the following amounts:
- $25,000 for injuries to one person and $50,000 for the death of one person in one car accident
- $50,000 for injuries to multiple people and $100,000 for deaths of multiple people in one car accident
- $10,000 for property damage in one car accident
Drivers or passengers injured in an accident by someone who is uninsured or who carries only the minimum insurance required will be limited in their ability to recover for their pain and suffering unless they have access to additional coverage through their own uninsured or underinsured coverage
Recovering From Insurance Companies After a New York Auto Accident
In order to recover on an uninsured motorist claim, the insurance company needs to determine that there was no insurance coverage for the at-fault driver or vehicle at the time of the accident.
When people make claims under their uninsured motorist policies for hit-and-run accidents, they need to provide the insurance company with “proof of physical contact” and evidence that their injuries or property damage arose from the contact.
Recovery under a New York underinsured motorist policy varies depending on the amount of coverage a driver has on his or her policy and the amount of insurance the at-fault driver has. The underinsured policy coverage only begins to pay for damages after the at-fault driver’s policy is exhausted.
In some situations, it is possible that a driver’s underinsured motorist policy will not pay compensation in an auto accident, even if the at-fault driver’s insurance does not cover all of the insured driver’s damages.
For example, if an accident victim with a $100,000 underinsured motorist policy suffers $100,000 of damages from an accident with a driver who only has $50,000 of liability insurance, after recovering the policy limits from the responsible party, the injured victim could receive up to $50,000 from his or her own underinsured motorist insurance policy. However, if the injured party only had $50,000 of underinsured motorist coverage, then he or she would not get any compensation from his or her own underinsured motorist insurance policy if he or she recovered $50,000 from the responsible party.
Car accidents are traumatic enough without having to worry about paying the bills that result from them. Insurance companies routinely deny claims, which cause people who are already under stress even more frustration. If you have been in an auto accident with an uninsured or underinsured motorist, contact an experienced personal injury attorney who can advise you of your options.