Let’s face it: car insurance is a boring topic – that is, until someone hits you, you get hurt, and they’re uninsured. Not so boring now, is it?
Personal Injury Attorney Robert Harper shares some important (and interesting) information you need to know about your car insurance.
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The Car Insurance Basics
Here in Colorado, $25,000 is the minimum you are required to carry for bodily injury on your car insurance policy.
So if you were to hit someone, you’re required to have at least $25,000 worth of car insurance to cover the other driver’s injuries.
UIM & Why It is Important
When you go to buy a car insurance policy, the letters UIM or UM, may come up. If they do not, you should bring them up with your agent. Ask them what it is and if you can get UM or UIM?
It’s Not Complicated But It’s Crucial
UIM and UM stand for underinsured and uninsured motorist coverage. ]
Let’s say if you failed to purchase car insurance for your car and you hit someone. The person you hit could use their UM or uninsured motorist insurance to cover their own injuries.
If you do not have UIM or UM and someone with no insurance hits you, well, you’re out of luck.
Every driver should have UM and UIM coverage on their car. Now, you may wonder if UIM and UM are required. The answer is no; you are not required to carry either of these coverages. Consider them an added layer of protection when you’re out on the road. UIM also covers hit and run drivers.
UIM & Bodily Injury Coverage Amounts
UIM coverage has to be the same value as the amount of BI or Bodily Injury coverage you carry. In fact, it’s against the law to have the value of your UIM lower than your BI.
Here’s an example to consider: if you have $100,000 in bodily injury coverage, it’s against the law to carry lower UIM coverage, like $25,000. Your UIM has to be at least equal to your bodily injury limit or higher.
Understanding Your Insurance Coverage
What does it mean if a policy is $25,000, $50,000? Twenty-five-thousand dollars is individual coverage; $50,000 is for the car accident as a whole.
Think of it this way:
Let’s say you were injured in an accident. Of your $25,000, $50,000 policy, $25,000 would cover you. If there were two people in the car, half or $25,000 would cover each one. But let’s say there were three people in the car. The $50,000 covers all three.
In that case, there could be a conflict of interest. In the case of three people in the car, your attorney would most likely have you sign a conflict of interest form since one passenger might receive less than the ultimate turnout of the $50,000.
Most Policies Go Beyond Covering the Primary Driver
In addition to you, car insurance covers the car for all resident relatives, as well as permissive drivers to use the car.
So let’s say you have a friend over. The two of you decide the get a pizza for dinner. Your friend offers to get the food and you tell him he can use your Jeep Grand Cherokee. In this instance, your friend is a permissive driver.
As a permissive driver, he is covered under your policy.
Don’t Accept Exclusions
When you get your policy, make sure that there are no named driver exclusions.
Often, parents get a policy and they fail to closely read the portion about exclusions or drivers who are not covered. In many cases, these excluded drivers are their own children.
If your son or daughter is involved in an accident but excluded from your auto insurance policy, the insurance company can refuse to cover them.
So make sure that you go through your policy and carefully read through the driver exclusions portion.
Stacking UIM Coverage
One of the best things about Colorado Insurance Law is that it allows you to stack your UIM coverages.
Here’s what that means:
Let’s say you have a $100,000 UIM policy with the Acme Insurance Company. Your partner has a $100,000 UIM policy with Generic Insurance Company.
In this scenario, if you are in an accident caused by an uninsured driver, not only are you allowed to use your $100,000 UIM policy but you can apply your partner’s $100,000 coverage for your injures.
That gives you $200,000 in potential insurance coverage.
How Long You Have to Take Action on Your Case
In legal terms, there’s something called the statute of limitations. Statutes of limitations apply across many areas of law. You may have heard that term used in criminal cases – meaning prosecutors have a limited amount of time to file charges against someone before they can no longer file charges.
In the personal injury world, you are limited to how long you can take action on your case.
In Colorado, if you are in an accident, you have three years to settle your case or file a lawsuit.
Now, if you file a lawsuit, that does not mean the suit has to be resolved within that three-year time frame. If you file a lawsuit, the statute of limitations pauses until your case is resolved.
What About UIM & UM Claims
UIM and UM claims also have a three-year statute of limitations. Once you settle your bodily injury claim against the at-fault driver, you can turn around and make an underinsured claim because obviously they’re underinsured for your damages.
From that point on, the law allows you two more years to take action. So you have five years if you total it all together.
Let’s Talk About Your Injuries & Claims
Insurance law is complicated and sometimes pretty confusing. If you have any questions our Personal Injury Team can provide some clarity.
If you’ve been hurt in a car crash, our compassionate personal injury attorneys will go to bat for you. They know how insurance adjusters operate, and our attorneys will not back down until you get the settlement you deserve. If negotiations fail, our attorneys will take your case to court to fight for your right.
Set Up a Free Case Assessment
Call 303-688-0944 or click here to schedule some time to talk with one of our personal injury attorneys. In this free, 30-minute case assessment, you’ll talk about the facts of your case, your legal rights and options, and more.