Auto insurance is a complex issue. Arizona requires all drivers to insure their cars with at least $15,000 per person for bodily injury liability and $30,000 per accident when more than one person suffers injuries. State legislators are working to raise this minimum insurance requirement. In addition to this minimum insurance requirement, motorists also have the option to purchase uninsured motorist and underinsured motorist coverage.
When You Need to Use It
You may need to use this type of insurance when an uninsured motorist strikes and injures you. Your liability insurance only covers other motorists when you injure them. It doesn’t actually cover you. These types of insurance can also help when the driver who caused your accident and injuries does not have sufficient insurance coverage to pay for all of the damages caused.
For example, the driver’s insurance may pay for some of your vehicle’s repair costs and your medical expenses, but not all of them. Uninsured motorist coverage comes in handy when the at-fault driver has insurance, but the carrier is financially unable to pay the claim. It also helps when you are struck and injured by a hit-and-run driver, someone who doesn’t stop and exchange information after a collision.
Common Myths and Misconceptions
So, in fact, uninsured motorist and underinsured motorist coverage actually protect you and your family. But, many Arizonans don’t opt for this coverage because of the many misconceptions surrounding them. Let us help clear up some of those myths so you get a better understanding of uninsured and underinsured motorist coverage and how they can help protect you and your family.
Myth: It’ll cost me an arm and a leg to get uninsured motorist and/or underinsured motorist coverage.
Sure, you may save a few dollars by not purchasing these types of insurance. But in the long run, when you or a family member gets injured in a car accident, you may find yourself shelling out money you don’t have for car repairs and medical bills. In such a scenario, you lose a lot of money. If it’s a major accident, it could even ruin you financially.
Myth: I don’t need this coverage because I have a good health insurance plan.
While health insurance helps pay your medical bills, it might not pay for other losses you might incur in such a scenario such as lost wages or long-term care. In fact, your carrier may prohibit your health insurance from being used as primary coverage in the case of an auto accident. What this means is that you might first have to exhaust your auto insurance coverage before you become eligible for your benefits from your health insurance. If you have a high-deductible health insurance plan like many of us have now, that is also something to consider. In such cases, if you have uninsured motorist or underinsured motorist coverage, you could simply pay your auto insurance deductible and use that coverage instead of your health insurance.
Myth: I don’t need to buy more insurance than what the state requires.
When you buy the minimum state-required insurance, remember, you are only protecting other motorists in the event of an accident. Your insurance coverage will pay for their medical bills and car repairs, not yours or your family members’. So in such cases, buying just the bare minimum can leave you and your family exposed.
Myth: If the other driver is at fault, his or her insurance will cover my losses.
In an ideal world, this is how it would all play out. Unfortunately, we don’t live in an ideal world. Often times, you may only have your own auto insurance to rely on. This is particularly true if you are struck and injured by an uninsured or underinsured motorist, or a hit-and-run driver who has not been identified or apprehended.
Myth: Uninsured motorist insurance protects me only when I’m in my car.
This is not true. If you or a family member are riding in a friend’s car and are involved in an accident with an uninsured driver, your uninsured motorist or underinsured motorist coverage will still be there for you. If you are injured in a pedestrian or bicycle accident involving an uninsured motorist, this type of coverage will still protect you even if you are not behind a wheel or in a car.
Myth: It won’t happen to me.
About 12 percent of Arizona’s drivers were uninsured in 2012. That number is likely to have increased over the last few years. So, there is a probability that you could get involved in a crash with an uninsured driver. Even if the other driver does have insurance, he or she might be underinsured and therefore not have sufficient coverage to help pay for all your losses. This is why it’s a good idea to get this coverage even if the probability of it happening to you is lower.
If You Have Been Injured
If you or a loved one has been injured in an Arizona car accident, there are a number of steps you can take in order to ensure that your legal rights are protected. First and foremost, report the accident to law enforcement. File a police report and get a copy of that report for your own records. Gather as much evidence as possible from the scene. If you are involved in a hit-and-run crash, try to get eyewitness information, vehicle description or at least a partial license plate number for the hit-and-run vehicle.
Take photographs of the accident scene including any debris that might be left behind by the hit-and-run vehicle. Get prompt medical attention, treatment and care for your injuries. Write down everything you remember about the accident. If other parties remain at the scene, make sure you gather all pertinent information including insurance, driver’s license, vehicle license plate and contact information for all parties involved. Save all receipts of expenses related to the crash.
Contact an experienced Arizona auto accident lawyer who will help you seek and obtain maximum compensation for your injuries, damages and losses. You may be able to seek compensation for damages such as medical expenses, lost income, hospitalization, pain and suffering and emotional distress.