More drivers than you would think are uninsured in the state of California, up to an estimated 16%. Then, we also need to take into account those who have insurance but potentially do not pay enough for their policy to cover your compensation should they cause an accident with you, known as underinsured drivers. Many drivers only carry the minimum insurance amount required by California of $15,000 per injured person. (In 2025, the minimum will increase to $25,000.) Because of this, if someone crashes their car into yours, it’s very likely they won’t have enough coverage, should they have coverage at all, to cover your damages and injuries. What, then, should you do to make sure you are protected? Keep reading to learn all about uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage, and remember, you should never hesitate to contact a San Mateo County, California car accident lawyer if you’ve been in a car accident. You may very well still be recovering physically—you shouldn’t have to face a legal battle without an accomplished attorney fighting at your side.
What is Uninsured/Underinsured Motorist Coverage?
Your first layer of protection should be purchasing significant uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage. While it is good protection, you are also required by law to have this kind of coverage. The California Uninsured Motorist Act received legal force through Insurance Code Section 11580.2—11580.5.
The law obligates every automobile insurance policy sold in California to include coverage meant to protect people with insurance should they have an accident causing bodily injury or wrongful death by someone who does not have insurance. If an insurance company does not directly include it in their policies, the state of California will presume that the minimum uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage is in fact part of the policy.
However, keep in mind that the current minimums in California stand at $15,000 for every injured person. That amount could easily fall short of what you would need to be compensated, especially considering the high costs of medical care and auto repair.
Significant uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage would be between $300,000 to $500,000, or more if that is within your budget. By comparison to collision liability or comprehensive coverage, uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage is actually less expensive.
Why Should I Pay for This Coverage?
Primarily, you should do so because the law requires it. But beyond that, you should buy more uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage than the law necessitates because it will benefit you more than it will cost you. Someone who was injured by a driver without insurance or without enough insurance can open a claim with their own carrier. It may be possible to receive your compensation in the absence of litigation.
That said, before you turn to your own insurance, you should first exhaust the policy limits on the other driver’s insurance if they have insufficient insurance. That amount will then be applied as a credit to your own underinsured motorist coverage.