Uninsured Motorist Insurance: What is it and why should you have it?

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Uninsured motorist (often abbreviated to “UM”) insurance protects you if you’re hit by a driver who has none or insufficient auto insurance.

In Louisiana, insurance carriers are required to include UM insurance on every automobile policy, unless the customer rejects the insurance in writing. While it is optional, having UM insurance is strongly recommended, especially in Louisiana where, unfortunately over minimum requirement is only $15,000.00 and many drivers operate vehicles without insurance.

Louisiana Driver Are Generally Underinsured!

Louisiana law only requires drivers to carry $15,000.00 of bodily injury liability insurance. However, according to the Louisiana Department of Insurance, 40% of Louisiana drivers carry minimum policies and 14% of Louisiana drivers do not have car insurance at all.  That means that over half of the drivers on the road in Louisiana are most likely underinsured as a minimum policy will almost never provide enough insurance to make a driver whole after he is injured in a serious accident.

Louisiana UM insurance ensures that you are not left out to dry if you’re in an accident with one of those uninsured or underinsured drivers.

When Is UM Insurance Applicable?

By example, if you are stopped at a red light when all of the sudden another car crashes into the back of your vehicle.  After calling the police, which we always advise you do, you realize that the car that hit you is not insured.  If you don’t have UM insurance, you may be out of luck, as you could be limited to pursuing the driver individually.

However, if you do, you can make an UM claim.  In order to make a successful UM claim, a driver must produce sufficient facts to the UM insurer that:

  1. The adverse driver in the accident was uninsured or underinsured at the time of the accident;
  2. The underinsured or uninsured driver was at fault;
  3. Such fault gave rise to damages; and
  4. The extent of the damages

In order to trigger UM insurance, the insured bears the burden to show that all other insurance has been exhausted, which can be done by an affidavit from the adverse driver or a letter from the Department of Public Safety and Corrections stating that there are no applicable insurance policies available.  Typically, a police report showing that the adverse driver was cited for negligence is sufficient to show fault.  The last two elements, causation and damages, typically go hand in hand, but it is important to document the accident as best you can using photographs of your vehicle after the accident.

Another key element of UM insurance is that it can apply to hit and run accidents as well.  Being involved in a hit and run accident is a nightmare, but unfortunately it happens to drivers, bicyclists, and even pedestrians.  It is important to note that even if you are not in your car, your UM insurance travels with you, the driver.

The final benefit to having UM insurance is that making a UM claim cannot lead to a rate increase.  In fact, it is illegal to increase rates as a result of a UM claim.  A UM claim is a non-fault incident and as per Louisiana Revised Statute 12:1984, cannot be considered for purposes of increasing rates or canceling a policy.

Should you have any questions or you would like to discuss this issue in further detail, please do not hesitate to contact us to schedule a free consultation.

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