American Association for Justice
Greater Lowell

Underinsured Car Accidents

Insurance is something that every car is required to have in Massachusetts. But, the amount of required coverage is fairly low. That means that many who suffer serious, catastrophic, or fatal injuries in a car accident will not be fully compensated by the other driver’s insurance.

Because of this danger, insurance companies offer coverage to fill in this gap. It’s called Underinsured Motorist Coverage. (not to be confused with Uninsured Motorist Coverage, which is surprisingly separate)

Underinsured Motorist Coverage

Underinsured Motorist Coverage (UIM) covers damages greater in value then the available liability insurance. In other words, it protects you when the other driver doesn’t have enough insurance.

In most cases, the other driver’s insurance will pay for your injury. But because the minimum amount of car insurance is $20,000.00 is often not enough. If you broke a bone or tore a ligament that needs surgery, if you need multiple rounds of physical therapy, medical bills alone can be more than $20,000.00. That’s where UIM takes over. It pays for those damages which exceed the amount you can get from the at-fault person’s liability coverage.

How Much is Available?

UIM is insurance on your own car. With that, many worry that their insurance premiums will go up if they make a claim. Fortunately, that won't happen.

You can look to Part 12 on your auto insurance policy to see how much coverage you have. But, be sure you know what you’re looking at, and what the number means. Your policy might say that you have 20/40 coverage, which means that your insurance will pay up to $20,000 per person up to a total of $40,000 per accident. While that might make you feel good about being covered, the fact of the matter is that having this amount of insurance is like having none at all.

The reason is because in order to figure out how much UIM coverage you have, you need to take the amount of coverage you have on your own vehicle and subtract the amount of insurance the other driver’s car has. You need to have purchased higher limits of UIM, such as $50,000.00 per person/$100,000.00 per accident. If you were to have $50,000.00 of coverage on your own car and the other vehicle still has $20,000, you would be able to get the other drivers’ $20,000.00, and your insurance would pay $30,000.00 to get your total recovery up to the amount of insurance that you have on your car.

Where Do I Look for Coverage?

Whenever an accident occurs, there are multiple insurance policies involved. There are the policies of the cars that were involved, but there are also policies that passengers have on their own cars.

If you are in your own vehicle or a passenger in someone else’s, you first have a claim with your own insurer. If you don’t have a policy, you have coverage under a family household member’s policy, or you may fall within the underinsurance on an auto in which you were riding.

Do You Need a Lawyer?

These insurance issues are not straightforward. Chances are you had no idea what part 12 of your auto policy meant before you read this or some similar article on the internet. You need an experienced attorney who knows how to navigate complicated coverage issues.

At Marcotte Law Firm we handle these cases day in and day out. We have litigated and arbitrated many of these cases when negotiations with the insurer hits a wall. (Uninsured and Underinsured Motorist claims go to "arbitration" rather than civil jury trials to resolve disagreements).

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We know where to look for available insurance benefits and where to find coverage when others have given up. We do not charge a fee unless and until we secure payment to you, so you have nothing to lose by contacting us for a consultation on your case.

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