Protecting Yourself from Underinsured Drivers

| Oct 19, 2020 | Car Wrecks |

Auto insurance exists to help drivers recover after they get into accidents. If you’re at fault, your insurance is supposed to cover your liability. If the other driver’s at fault, that driver’s insurance should cover your damages. That’s the way it’s supposed to work.

But the system often falters. Roughly 24% of Mississippi drivers don’t carry insurance, and many more don’t carry enough. Mississippi only requires drivers to cover bodily damage worth up to $25,000 per person. They need only cover $50,000 per accident, even if there are multiple victims. The problem is that crashes can lead to damages far beyond these minimums. So, who covers the rest?

The truth about Mississippi UM/UIM coverage

As the Mississippi Insurance Department notes, your insurance may step in when the other driver’s fails to cover the whole cost. Unless you decline it, your policy should include coverage for accidents with uninsured or underinsured motorists (UM/UIM).

However, having this coverage and getting your insurance company to pay up are two separate things. In fact, it’s often a mistake to rely upon your insurance company to “do the right thing.” This is because:

  • Insurance companies’ first loyalties are to their bottom lines, not to accident victims
  • They hire people who work to minimize their liability and payments
  • Mississippi insurance follows the rules for pure comparative fault, meaning that any percentage of blame you take after an accident reduces your compensation

Altogether, this means that your insurance may happily sit on the sidelines while the other driver argues that you were at least partially at fault. Your insurance has no incentive to help you more than it must. This is why many accident victims work with personal injury attorneys even when they’re just trying to make claims against their own insurance.

Two key steps to better protection

No one wants to think about getting into an accident, but there’s always a risk. That’s why the state requires auto insurance, and it’s why you want to review your UM/UIM coverage. In 2015, Mississippi was the number two state in the nation for uninsured drivers, and that doesn’t even count drivers carrying the bare minimum insurance.

The risk of getting into an accident with an uninsured or underinsured driver is greater than you may think. However, you can take two steps to protect yourself. First, you can make sure your policy includes UM/UIM coverage. Second, if you need to make a claim against that coverage, you can remember to get experienced help.