Serious Maryland car and truck accident cases often involve underinsured and uninsured motorist issues that can be problematic. Addressing those issues before they arise can save a lot of trouble and delay.
First, when does uninsured or underinsured coverage come into play? The answer is uninsured motorist coverage becomes involved when you are injured by a driver or drivers, who does not have liability insurance in effect. In Maryland failure to have such coverage is illegal and subjects the vehicle owner to monetary fines and other penalties. That does not solve the problem of getting one's medical bills and lost wages paid.
The solution is making a claim under your own policy for uninsured motorist benefits. All Maryland auto insurance policies have this benefit although the amount depends on what you have purchased.
A second scenario that invokes uninsured motorist coverage is the so-called phantom driver crash. Say you are stopped at a light and someone rear-ends you and the drives away while you recover from the crash. You don't have any way to identify the other driver and their prospective insurance company. Thus, you make an uninsured motorist claim against your own policy.
What should be clear at this point is that it truly matters how much uninsured motorist coverage you carry and as we examine the circumstances for which you can make an underinsured motorist, this will become even more obvious.
Underinsured motorist claims occur when the at-fault driver has insufficient liability coverage to fairly compensate the victim of a crash AND the victim has more uninsured motorist coverage on their policy.
For example, Betty is in a bad crash where she breaks her leg, misses a month from work and incurs $35,000.00 in medical bills. The at-fault driver has the Maryland state minimum liability policy of $30,000.00. How can Betty be fairly compensated? The answer is if she has more than $30,000.00 in uninsured motorist coverage, she can draw additional benefits from her own policy.
Betty had the wisdom to purchase $100,000.00 in uninsured motorist coverage and so she collected the $30,000.00 from the at-fault driver's insurance and as much as an additional $70,000.00 from her own insurance carrier. Insurance companies are not known for their generosity but Betty's situation would yield more compensation that merely the $30,000.00.
Tomorrow we will get into the logistics of making such claims and potential problems but this discourse should provide an elementary insight into this unique and often overlooked insurance benefit.