I represent folks who have been injured in car crashes caused by someone else’s negligence. When someone schedules an appointment after an accident I always instruct them to bring a copy of their own insurance declarations page (the cover page of the policy that itemizes the break-down of the premium payment) to the appointment. People are frequently puzzled by this since their focus, understandably, is on the other guy. “Shouldn’t we be looking at the policy of the jerk who hit me?” they ask.
The answer is, sure we should and we do. But what we frequently find is that the other guy doesn’t have insurance. The Insurance Information Institute estimates that 13% of all drivers in the country are uninsured. In Michigan the estimate is 20.3% of all drivers are uninsured, making Michigan the 4th highest state in the country for uninsured drivers. (Yahoo! We’re in the Top 5!)
This is where uninsured motorist coverage comes in. If you have purchased uninsured coverage (“UM”) as part of your insurance package, your own company will step in and provide insurance up to the limit selected in your policy. Note, however, that you have to select this coverage. Many agents—especially bad ones—don’t explain this to their customers or even give them the opportunity to purchase UM coverage. This is a real disservice to the customer since UM coverage is extremely important to have as demonstrated by the statistic above that over 20% of all drivers in Michigan are completely uninsured.
Equally important, the insurance is cheap! Looking at the declarations page for a current client of mine with UM coverage through State Farm, I see that she’s paying $6.29 for $100,000 of uninsured motorist coverage (for a 6 month policy period). Another client with a different company is paying $7.00 for $100,000 of coverage. That’s peanuts. Far less than their liability coverage in the same amounts.
So check your policy. Look at the declarations page and see if it includes coverage for “uninsured motorist” or “UM”. Pay attention to the limit of liability amount. Remember this is coverage you are buying to protect you, not the other guy. Don’t be cheap. Buy UM coverage in as large an amount as you can reasonably afford. Someday you may thank me.