“I have full coverage.” You understand the value of purchasing insurance, you want proper coverage. You think you have it. Then you get in an accident and you find out you weren’t properly insured at all- typically through no fault of your own. Why? Because, based on my experience, about 90% of Tennessee’s motorists don’t understand what uninsured motorist coverage is and how much they need.
There is an epidemic of people not protected against uninsured and underinsured motorists in Tennessee. You very likely are one of them. This can have terrible consequences for you. Why is this? Simply put, bodily injury coverage protects you if you hit someone and injure them. Uninsured or underinsured motorist coverage protect you if someone without adequate insurance hits you.
Far too often drivers in Tennessee opt to waive such coverage to save a few bucks and only realize the implications after an accident with such a driver.
Nearly every day I get calls from or meet people in Greater Nashville who have been injured by uninsured drivers and either didn’t have UM coverage or didn’t have enough.
It breaks my heart, and often breaks families financially, because those injured cannot make insurance claims that even begin to cover their expenses.
In one case, a motorcyclist and his passenger suffered critical injuries when an uninsured driver ran a stop sign and smashed into them. Because the motorcycle driver had waived UM (uninsured motorist) coverage, he and his passenger received only $50,000 apiece. The severity of the injuries, including medical bills and rehabilitation, suggested the claims should have been $500,000 for each victim.
What Does Uninsured Motorist Insurance Cover?
Carrying the right amount of uninsured motorist (UM) and underinsured motorist (UIM) coverage gives you broad protections.
Many attorneys will turn away victims of accidents involving uninsured or underinsured drivers. But if you, as the victim, have such coverage, I will fight to make sure you get as much as possible.
How? I and my team here in Nashville will make sure your insurance company pays what it should under your policy. When you pay for UM insurance, you should be able to use it.
Take a look at the situations where your uninsured motorist coverage would apply:
- If you or a dependent are injured by an uninsured driver, your UM coverage steps in and pays for damages, up to policy limits. Likewise, when an at-fault driver has some insurance but not enough to pay for injuries or vehicle damage, underinsured motorist coverage (UIM) makes up the difference.
- If you or a family member are hit by a vehicle with an uninsured driver when out walking or bicycling, UM coverage applies.
- If you are the victim of a hit-and-run driver, your uninsured motorist insurance applies to injuries as well as car damage.
- If you are a passenger in someone else’s car and involved in a crash with an uninsured driver, UM insurance covers you.
Why You Should Not Waive UM Coverage
Tennessee state law requires that all auto liability insurance policies include coverage for damage and personal injury by uninsured motorists of the same amount. So, if you have $250,000 of liability coverage you should have $250,000 in UM coverage.
However the law has a big loophole that insurance agents help people drive right through to save a few dollars in the short term: Policyholders simply can waive uninsured motorist coverage in writing.
Too many insurance agents allow them to do so – they want the commission for selling the policy. Their short-term gains often mean big losses, including unreimbursed medical expenses or worse for their clients.
Drivers mistakenly assume health insurance – if they have it – will make up the difference if they don’t have UM coverage.
Health insurance will pay for medical treatment and some rehabilitation, typically only after the victim meets a high-cost deductible. But serious auto accidents do more than cause bodily injury.
Health insurance does not address other significant costs. Among those costs are lost earnings, pain and suffering, and permanent disability. Having enough uninsured motorist coverage is the easiest way to prepare for the worst.
State of TN is High in Uninsured Motorists
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Sadly, you also need UM insurance because the chance any car crash in Tennessee involves an uninsured driver is quite high. Tennessee ranks 6th in the United States for a high percentage of uninsured drivers, according to the Insurance Research Council.
Nationwide, 1 in 7 drivers are uninsured. In Nashville and the rest of Tennessee, the figure is 1 in 5. An estimated 21 percent of Tennessee drivers carry no insurance. Scores more have some uninsured motorist coverage but not enough – either practically or legally.
Recent TN Driver Insurance Law
A law that took effect in July 2015 increased the penalties for drivers caught without proof of insurance but it seems to have had little effect. In fact, many personal injury attorneys don’t even know about it.
The new law raised the fine from $100 to $300 for driving without insurance, giving law enforcement agencies the discretion of towing vehicles on the spot when drivers fail to produce proof of insurance.
In my experience, people who have callous disregard for the safety of others won’t be deterred by a potential $300 fine and a tow that may take place.
Protect yourself: Don’t reject UM coverage to save what’s often less than $100 a year on TN car insurance (Tweet this).
The consequences can be far greater than you imagine. And if you have UM coverage and are in an accident, reach out to us as soon as possible. I want to help you get all the possible benefits under your policy.
“Fighting for your rights” If you or a loved one has been injured in an accident contact David Weissman and the law firm of Raybin & Weissman for a confidential consultation of your case today at 615-256-6666 or contact us online immediately.