Understanding under-insured motorist coverage

Each year, about 2.9 million people are injured in car crashes – resulting in medical care and productivity loss costs of about $99 billion nationally.

Motor vehicle insurance coverage covers some of that cost in most cases. But what happens when you’re injured by another driver, and the cost of your medical care and losses exceed the other driver’s coverage?

In Missouri, drivers have a minimum requirement of just $25,000 per person in automobile liability insurance coverage. If you are injured in a car wreck, and another driver is at fault, then you are effectively limited in what you are entitled to collect based upon the other driver’s policy. So if the at-fault driver only has  $25,000 liability coverage, and your medical bills exceed that amount, you may be stuck with the balance. In some situations, a lawsuit against the at-fault party may help recoup some expenses, but often if the other driver has insufficient insurance then he/she also has a limited income and assets.

One way to guard against this outcome is underinsured motorist coverage. Unlike uninsured motorist coverage, which is required in Missouri, an underinsured policy is optional. For an additional premium (usually with little expense) you’ll have “gap” coverage that will protect you if you’re ever seriously injured in an auto accident by another person.

So if you have  $100,000 in underinsured coverage, and the other driver has only $25,000 in liability coverage, your policy could allow for an additional $75,000 in coverage for injuries. There are limitations to this type of coverage, however, so it’s very important to review your policy carefully.

If you have been in a car wreck and have questions about your options, please contact the attorneys at Cook, Barkett, Ponder & Wolz.