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Uninsured Motorist Coverage: What It Is and Why You Need It

Uninsured motorist coverage is insurance you purchase from your insurance company to protect you if another driver hits you and they do not have insurance or have too little insurance.  Uninsured or underinsured coverage, often abbreviated to UM, is different from liability insurance.

In most states you are required to carry liability coverage on your vehicle, which means that if you hit another driver, your insurance company will pay for that other person’s damages and injuries.  However, you can also purchase insurance to protect yourself if someone hits you and they do not have insurance or enough insurance to compensate you. In this case, you or your attorney will prove that the other driver was at fault and did not have adequate insurance.

Many Uninsured Motorists in Mississippi

UM coverage is particularly important in the Gulf South because wages tend to be low and there are many uninsured motorists.  Mississippi has particularly high rates of uninsured drivers; over 25% is the most common estimate. So you should be aware that if you are involved in a car accident in Mississippi, there is more than a one in four chance that the negligent driver will not have sufficient insurance to pay for your medical bills and damage to your car. There are many more drivers out there who have insurance but are considered “underinsured” because they have the bare minimum of liability coverage.

Cautionary Tale of an Injured Motorcyclist

I was recently reminded of the importance of having UM coverage when I spoke with a woman whose husband was injured in a motorcycle/car collision. Her husband was driving his motorcycle in Jackson, Mississippi in a safe and cautious manner with protective clothing and a helmet when he was struck and injured by an uninsured driver. Both of the man’s hips were broken, and he was in the hospital for approximately two weeks.

In addition to his medical bills and pain and suffering, the man is a commercial truck driver and it is not clear that he can return to that occupation.  The losses this man is facing are considerable. If he had purchased uninsured motorist coverage, he could file a claim against his own insurance company to cover his loss of wages, pain and suffering, and medical bills.

UM Coverage Protects Worker with Knee Injury

A much more positive outcome occurred when my law firm represented a worker in Lafayette, Louisiana who suffered a severe knee injury as the result of an automobile collision with an uninsured motorist. Fortunately, he had UM coverage and was able to collect personal injury damages from his own insurance company for wage loss and medical bills.

In most cases, uninsured motorist insurance is not expensive.  You should get the same amount of UM coverage as you have liability coverage.  If you are not sure whether you have UM coverage as a part of your car, motorcycle or truck insurance, call your insurance agent immediately to find out. If you do not have UM coverage, I strongly recommend that you protect yourself and your loved ones against uninsured negligent drivers.

Thomas Alonzo

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