I have been serving the San Diego California community as an injury lawyer since 1999. I cannot tell you how many times I have seen a very good case go "down the tubes" simply because my client either did not have Uninsured Motorist coverage, or did not have enough of that coverage. This video explains why you need to be proactive and check your auto policy regularly to make sure you have it listed on your declaration page under your auto policy.
The Difference Between "Uninsured" and "Under-Insured Motorist" Coverages:
First, I want to make sure everyone understands the difference between these two coverages. When you purchase Uninsured Motorist coverage it automatically contains "Under-Insured Motorist" coverage. However, they are triggered by a different fact pattern. For example, if you are injured in a car crash and the other party had absolutely no insurance, then obviously, your Uninsured Motorist coverage would protect you. But let's say the at-fault party had some liablity coverage, and you managed to obtain those policy limits as a settlement, but your case is worth more than the other person's liability coverage. Then, your Uninsued Motorist coverage would automatically turn into "Under-Insured Motorist" protection.
Beware of the Following Situation with Under-Insured Motorist Coverage:
One pitfall most people are not aware of in California is called "policy stacking." In California, you have to have MORE in Under-Insured Motorist coverage than what the at-fault party had in liability coverage in order to trigger protection of your Under-Insured Motorist coverage. For example, let's say your injury case is worth at least $200,000, but the at-fault driver only has $100,000 in policy limits, and we are able to force the at-fault carrier to give you those policy limits of $100,000. But, you yourself only have $100,000 in Under-Insured Motorist coverage. Guess what? In California, you are limited to only obtaining $100,000 from the at-fault party, and $0.00 from your Under-Insured Motorist coverage. Why? Because California law requires you to have MORE in Under-Insured Motorist coverage than what the at-fault party had in liability coverage.
Using the same example above, let's instead say you had $250,000 in Under-Insured Motorist coverage. Then you would have up to $150,000 under your Under-Insured Motorist coverage to pursue. You see? This is just another important reason why you not only need Uninsured/Under-Insured Motorist coverage under your auto policy in California, but you need a lot of it!
If you do the math, getting great Uninsured Motorist coverage does not cost that much more than having minimal limits. My recommendation is that you get AT LEAST $100,000 in Uninsured Motorist coverage. If you can afford it, definitely kick it up to $250,000, $500,000 and beyond. I have seen too many injury cases lose out on what could have been easily prevented had the person only been proactive and had protected themselves (and their family) with great Uninsured Motorist coverage.
Do you still have questions? I know the information is complicated in some respects. If you still have questions, please feel free to give me a call at 619.813.7955. I take calls like these everyday, and I would be happy to help you!
That is it for this important advice, and as always, stay strong! Attorney Mark Blane