What Does Uninsured Motorist Coverage Really Cost?

by Barry P. Goldberg, A Professional Law Corporation

Barry P. Goldberg has heard just about every story and excuse why people carry low or no Uninsured Motorist Coverage. Usually, an insurance agent or company provides poor advice in order to keep a customer who is solely shopping price. One way to reduce the overall cost of a policy is to eliminate or reduce uninsured motorist coverage. However, not only is it an incredible risk to be on California roads without Uninsured Motorist coverage, it is such a relative bargain that it should be retained in all circumstances. Uninsured Motorist Coverage is a relative Bargain-Do Not Listen To an Insurance Agent Who says Otherwise.

Of course, it is easy for a practicing lawyer to advise the public to buy more insurance. But, what does it really cost? To answer this question. I recently requested a "real time" written quotation for my personal automobile to provide a "real world" financial example of the actual cost of adequate Uninsured Motorist coverage. Of course, the quote you receive will vary depending on your driving record, the price of your vehicle and other minor underwriting criteria. It is not a "guarantee" by any means. But, here goes:

15/30 Coverage(meaning a maximum of $15,000 per person and $30,000 per accident, total regardless of the number of claimants.):

$30 per year!

25/50 Coverage $45 per year.

50/100 Coverage $60 per year.

100/300 Coverage $78 per year.

Some companies will offer higher limits such as 250/500, 300/300, 300/500, or 500/500. Some of those companies will only offer those limits when accompanied by an "umbrella" policy, typically up to $1,000,000. You know that Barry P. Goldberg recommends as high a limits as you can reasonably afford. But, for a mere $78 per year, very adequate coverage is available. For roughly $15 per year you can advance to the next level of coverage in most cases.

From the above example, I have concluded that often insurance companies and agents have an interest in keeping your uninsured motorist limits too low. Sometimes well-intentioned insurance agents and insurers leave their insureds open to uncovered losses when they are involved in automobile accidents with Uninsured or Underinsured motorists. The main reasons are usually rationalizations designed to lower the insurance premium so that the insurance seller can be more competitive in the market place. The auto insurers in California are enjoying record profits due in part to low limits----meaning---less high exposure losses.

I have heard misguided agents and insurers argue that most drivers do not need Uninsured Motorist Coverage. They pose a question to the customer; "Do you have health insurance? If so, that's all you really need to protect your family if you are in an accident with an uninsured motorist." The follow up question is usually something like this: "Do you really need damages like pain and suffering if you are in an accident with an uninsured motorist? Because an accident with an uninsured motorist is unlikely, the cost of buying the insurance outweighs the value of receiving money over and above your medical bills. Besides, why should you pay for some irresponsible uninsured motorist's liability insurance?"

In reality, most drivers in Southern California cannot afford to incur significant lost earnings after an accident and injuries for a significant automobile accident can affect future earnings and greatly reduce the quality of life. Most Southern Californians require reasonable compensation just to have a chance to be put back in the position they were in immediately before a major accident. Despite public perception, a "windfall" from an automobile accident is rare and unlikely.

Health insurance today often does not cover significant injuries and recovery therapies designed to get you well faster and back to work sooner. Reputable doctors, chiropractors and physical therapists may be outside of your health insurance network. Many insureds have large deductibles and co-pays. Only by receiving uninsured motorist and underinsured motorist compensation can you guarantee access to these health care providers.

Under the California Financial Responsibility Act, Uninsured Motorist coverage is an important element in making certain that Californians are protected. Not only are medical bills, lost earnings and future losses recoverable, but other out of pocket expenses like home health care, babysitting, and personal assistance. Anyone who has been injured in an automobile accident knows that it is important to receive compensation for pain, suffering and inconvenience.

While you should always consult with a reputable insurance agent, take it from a practicing personal injury lawyer---the relative cost of Uninsured Motorist coverage is very low. On the other hand, a high percentage of automobile accidents in Southern California and the Los Angeles area involve uninsured and underinsured motorists. Recent estimates are that over 20% of accidents are uninsured and over 50% of accidents are underinsured.

The most common Uninsured Motorist coverage sold is $30,000 per claimant and $60,000 per accident even if your liability limits are significantly higher. In most cases, an automobile insurer will offer Uninsured Motorist Coverage equal to the amount of your liability policy---you just have to ask! Because Uninsured Motorist Coverage is such a relative bargain, it is advisable to carry higher limits and never, never, never eliminate the coverage.


DISCLAIMER: Because of the generality of this update, the information provided herein may not be applicable in all situations and should not be acted upon without specific legal advice based on particular situations.

© Barry P. Goldberg, A Professional Law Corporation | Attorney Advertising

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