What Is Uninsured Motorist Coverage?
Have you ever wondered what was to happen if you were involved in an accident with an uninsured motorist? In normal circumstances, if you are involved in an accident where the other driver is at fault, his or her insurance should cater to the damages sustained. However, that would be impossible if they do not have insurance. Imagine being responsible for vehicle repair costs (you know how high they can get) and even worse, replacement! Insurance has come to save such situations by offering uninsured motorist insurance packages. This protects motorists from paying out of pocket for accidents involved with uninsured drivers. But before we discuss the provisions that guide uninsured motorist coverage, let’s define this policy.
What Is Uninsured Motorist Coverage?
This is an insurance policy that provides coverage for damage costs sustained in an accident and medical expenses where the other driver is uninsured.
An Uninsured motorist has two coverages
- Uninsured motorist property damage (UMPD)- This provides coverage for property damage including that of the car.
- Uninsured motorist bodily injury (UMBI)- This provides coverage for medical bills, income losses and other costs incurred resulting from bodily injury.
Do I need Uninsured Motorist Coverage?
Auto insurance is mandatory. However, there are still drivers who can be found without insurance. And this increases your chances of getting involved in such a car accident. To protect yourself against financial liabilities that can arise from such instances, it is vital to have Uninsured Motorist coverage. In Canada, this is mandatory coverage in most provinces and is included in active automobile police. The only provinces where drivers are not mandated to purchase Uninsured Motorist coverage include Newfoundland and Labrador, New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, British Columbia and Prince Edward Island.
How much Uninsured Motorist Coverage should I get?
All automobile policies have Uninsured motorist coverage limits. In Ontario, the minimum limit is $200,000. This limit may or may not be sufficient depending on the type of accident and damages incurred. For extra protection, it is wise to increase your limit.
What is the process of making a claim with Uninsured Motorist coverage?
Before you rush to fix your car and incur expenses, ensure you let your insurer or broker know about the accident. Your insurer will need to evaluate all elements of the accident. Just like in any other accident scene, collect all evidence including photos, names, addresses, contact info of the eye-witnesses and an exact map out of the accident area. If you can, ensure you also get the license plate of the other car. To prevent delays, contact your insurer as soon as the accident occurs.
Depending on the coverage purchased, your uninsured motorist insurance has limits. This is why we advise the purchase of higher limits since it offers more protection.
What if you are at fault for the accident? Then you will start to see changes in your insurance rates. However, if your insurer hikes the rates to unreasonable levels, you can shop around for better insurance rates in the market.
Am I entitled to statutory accident benefits if involved in an accident with an uninsured motorist?
Yes. If a person is injured in an accident, they are entitled to statutory accident benefits regardless of who was at fault for an accident. These include rehabilitation, supplementary medical, caregiver, attendant care, income replacement and non-earner benefits. These benefits can be collected from your insurer or the insurer of the at-fault driver. In the case of an uninsured driver, you should collect these benefits from your insurer.
To claim these benefits, provide written notice of your intentions to seek the benefits within 120 days after the accident. These must include all income sources disclosure, benefits file and all medical records & after-care records that you received since the occurrence of the accident.
What about a hit-and-run accident?
Hit-and-run accidents can be traumatic. If you are involved in a hit-and-run accident, the first step is ensuring you pull over to a safe area and ensure that other passengers are safe. If the hit-and-run motorist is unidentified, ensure you report the accident to the police as well as your insurer. You will then be required to issue a written statement entailing accident details such as injuries sustained within 30 days after the accident to your insurer. You should then avail your vehicle for inspection by your insurer.
Proving that the hit-and-run driver was uninsured can be quite a task. This will be a requirement to access the $200,000 limits.
What can you do to prevent getting involved in a car accident?
Accidents are sometimes inevitable. However, there are factors you can undertake to enhance your safety on the road as well as that of other users. These will help you to avoid getting into accidents with other drivers, whether they are insured or uninsured.
- Pull into traffic slowly- You may be in a rush. However, always be on the lookout for danger zones and signs. For instance, be wary of blind spots and take caution when pulling into busy extensions.
- Observe the traffic lights- Before entering an intersection, look both ways to ensure no motorist is trying to speed through the yellow light. Serious accidents have occurred due to red-light runners.
- Perform car maintenance regularly- If poorly maintained, your car can break down on busy roads and cause fatal accidents. Always ensure that the car is regularly maintained by visiting the mechanic when necessary. Also, do not ignore tell-tale signs that may indicate that something is not right.
- Reduce in-car distractions- If you need to eat, change the radio or even hand over snacks to the passengers, always ensure that one hand remains on the steering. Driving hand-free is the easiest way to drive the car into a ditch or even in another lane.
- Concentration- Most accidents occur due to the lack of drivers’ concentration on the road. Just a simple mishap within a second is enough to cause an accident.
- Obey all traffic laws- Follow the rules, just a little more. Most road traffic violators have a poor driving record. Traffic rules were created to enhance the safety of all road users. Obey all traffic signals, speed limits and any other traffic rules without assuming that everyone else is doing so.