Author: James C. Beardsley, Esq., Portland, Maine
Car insurance serves a vital role in most car accident situations. However, even when car insurance is required by law, there will always be people that do not carry it as required. In those circumstances, you may wonder whether you will be able to collect compensation for your damages at all.
Often, the reason people do not carry car insurance is that they cannot afford it. That also, in turn, means that they likely cannot pay for your damages out of their own pocket. Do you have other options?
Uninsured Driver Coverage
Many insurance companies offer specialized insurance coverage that applies if a driver hits you who has no car insurance. If the noninsured driver is at fault, then you make a claim against your own insurance company up to a specific limit. The claim usually covers items such as medical expenses and property damage.
Underinsured Driver Coverage
Even when someone has insurance coverage, the limitation may not be high enough to completely deal with all of your losses associated with the accident. After maxing out the at-fault driver’s insurance coverage, you can use a specialized policy often referred to as underinsured coverage.
You must often purchase underinsured coverage specifically or add it to your existing plan. This coverage will “kick in” to cover your additional costs after the at-fault driver’s insurance is exhausted. You can only collect once from each source.
Asserting and Underinsured or Uninsured Driver Claim
You may not realize when the other driver does not have insurance right away. Nonetheless, you should notify your own insurance company of the claim as soon as you suspect that the over driver does not have coverage.
Talking to your insurance carrier earlier rather than later is important because many policies have notice requirements that must be met. The notice period may be just a matter of days. As such, you should tell your insurance company that you intend to file a claim if the other driver does not, for any reason, provide you with insurance information.
An uninsured claim can take effect immediately in many cases. However, an underinsured motorist claim may take longer to develop because the at-fault driver’s insurance company will need to pay out the claim up to the policy limits first. You may not realize that you have an underinsured motorist claim until later. As soon as you realize you may have a claim, you should assert it immediately.
The Underinsured or Uninsured Driver Claim Process
Generally, there will be an investigation regarding the facts of the accident and your related medical treatment. You may end up going through many of the same processes in this type of claim as you would if the claim was against a different insurance company. However, unlike third-party insurance claims, you cannot assert a lawsuit against your own insurance company if you cannot come to a settlement agreement. Many situations involve arbitration proceedings instead of lawsuits. These are hearings in front of an arbitrator and are generally more informal, with few rights to appeal.
Even when you are starting a claim against your insurance company, it is a good idea to have a car accident lawyer on your side. Your insurance company often does not have your best interests in mind, even when they are the ones providing coverage. Contact our team for more information.
About The Author
James C. Beardsley is a car accident lawyer in Portland, Maine and is a graduate of the University of Maine School of Law. James is currently the lead attorney at Lowry & Associates which has been helping injured victims in the state of Maine since 1971. Before joining Lowry & Associates in 2006, James also served in the United States Marine Corps.