Maximize Your Auto Insurance: Understanding UM/UIM Coverage

Often it takes a motor vehicle collision to realize that your auto insurance is insufficient and not comprehensive. This blog post is the second in a series that identifies critical elements of your auto insurance coverage and how to ensure that, going forward, you have maximum protection in the event of an accident. Since scores of Marylanders are driving with either no insurance or minimum coverage, it is imperative that your uninsured motorist (UM) and underinsured motorist (UIM) limits are as high as possible.

Why Is It Necessary To Carry UM/UIM Coverage?

In a perfect world, all drivers would carry valid insurance with appropriate bodily injury and property damage coverage limits. Unfortunately, many Maryland motorists fail to carry auto insurance, which becomes a problem when they cause accidents that injure others. In these instances, an injured person can choose to file a UM claim with his/her own auto insurer to recover compensation for his/her injuries. Essentially, his/her insurance company "steps into the shoes" of the vehicle that caused the accident and provides compensation up to the applicable limits of coverage.

Why does this matter?

It is important that you obtain high UM coverage in case you sustain serious injuries caused by an uninsured driver. The state minimum UM coverage of $30,000, or even $50,000 or $100,000, might not be enough to fully compensate you for your injuries in a serious auto accident. Our firm recommends that you obtain $250,000 or more in UM coverage to protect yourself in the event of a major collision. While an injured victim would prefer to make a claim directly against the negligent driver's insurance company, a UM claim is the only option in which to recover compensation if that driver irresponsibly lacked valid insurance at the time of the accident.

What Is The Difference Between a UIM Claim and a UM Claim?

A UIM claim is similar to a UM claim but with one major difference: the negligent driver has valid insurance but his bodily injury limits are too low to fully compensate an injured party. Again, the injured party's own auto insurance company becomes involved and provides additional compensation based on the severity of the case.

Recently, a young woman retained our law firm after she was involved in an accident and sustained very serious injuries. The negligent driver pulled out of a parking spot without looking and crashed into her while she was driving down the street. She suffered a concussion and potentially permanent nerve damage to her neck, shoulders, and arm. The negligent driver carried the state minimum of $30,000 in liability coverage and our client carried UIM coverage just a bit higher at $50,000. So, under Maryland law, the maximum she can potentially recover was $50,000 in compensation. However, based on her significant injuries, we easily valued her claim at double that amount.

Here’s the deal:

If she had obtained higher UIM limits from her auto insurer, such as $250,000, she would likely receive a much more substantial settlement at the end of her case. It should be noted that there are certain rules and procedures in UIM claims that an experienced personal injury attorney can explain in more detail.

If you have any questions about UM/UIM coverage or other aspects of your auto insurance coverage, contact the Law Offices of Adam M. Smallow at (410) 777-8960.