Do I Need Uninsured Motorist Insurance in Alabama?
Imagine you and your family get in the car to go out for a nice dinner. You approach an intersection and have a green light, but another vehicle decides to run through their red light and crashes into the side of your car. Because of this crash, you now have a totaled vehicle and some severe injuries that require extensive medical treatment.
As a general rule, the other driver’s insurance company should cover your damages because you did nothing wrong. According to Alabama law, (Ala. Code 32-7A-4), all vehicles on public roads must carry insurance that will pay should they cause injury or damage in an accident.
What if you found out after your accident that the other driver didn’t have insurance at all? Is there a way that you can be compensated for your injuries and damages, especially since the accident wasn’t your fault? As it turns out, there is, under your own uninsured motorist coverage.
Is Uninsured Motorist Insurance an Alabama Requirement?
Fortunately, uninsured motorist coverage is a requirement in Alabama – sort of. According to Alabama law (Ala. Code 32-7-23), no auto liability policy can be issued that doesn’t also include UM/UIM coverage. UM/UIM stands for “Uninsured Motorist/Underinsured Motorist,” and the statutory minimum for this coverage in Alabama is $25,000. Provided you have the minimum amount of coverage, your own insurance policy will pay for the damages that you incur as the result of an accident with an uninsured motorist.
Alabama also has a clause that allows drivers to opt out of purchasing UM/UIM coverage. The law requires that insurance companies offer this coverage to all drivers, but not that drivers accept the coverage. In fact, you have the option to waive UM/UIM coverage when you purchase your policy. If you selected this option, you might find it difficult if not impossible to cover your losses from an accident with an uninsured motorist.
Why Having This Coverage Is a Good Idea
Some states don’t require uninsured motorist coverage, which leaves responsible drivers at a disadvantage when they are involved in an accident with someone that isn’t properly insured. Yes, you might have minimum levels of uninsured motorist coverage that will give you some protections should this tragedy occur, but those limits may not be enough in the event of a serious accident.
If you have just $25,000 in UM/UIM coverage, you may only have enough to cover the cost of a totaled vehicle. Assuming that you have other damages that include medical expenses and lost wages, there wouldn’t be funds left to cover those losses. While you should always opt for this valuable coverage, you should also consider raising your limits above the minimum. UM/UIM coverage is surprisingly affordable.
What to Do If You’ve Been Hit By an Uninsured Motorist
Uninsured motorist claims can become complicated and contentious. First, you must show that the other driver was uninsured and then make sure that your own UM/UIM coverage will pay for your damages. Some insurance companies are more willing than others to make these payments, so it often helps to have an experienced Alabama auto accident attorney working to safeguard your rights.
Complications can also arise when you are involved in an accident with an underinsured motorist. Let’s assume that you were in the same accident that we described above and the driver had coverage, but only minimum policy limits. Once those have been paid out, you or your attorney will need to ask your insurance company to pay the rest under your UM/UIM policy coverages.
The point of this lesson is simple – there are a lot of uninsured and underinsured motorists on Alabama roads. Not only is UM/UIM coverage important, but it is inexpensive, so this is not something that you want to waive in an effort to save a few dollars each month. In fact, you should increase your limits to as much as you can afford.
Contact an Experienced Alabama Personal Injury Attorney
If you’ve been involved in an auto accident with a driver that is uninsured or underinsured, the skilled Alabama personal injury attorneys at the Law Office of J. Allan Brown, L.L.C. can help protect your rights and help you gain access to additional coverage under your policy. Contact us today at (251) 473-6691 or online to schedule a free c