What to Do When in an Accident with an Uninsured Driver

Uninsured motorist coverage protects you when the other driver is uninsured. If you live in a no-fault state, your car insurance company will pay out regardless.

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Zaneta Wood, Ed.S. has over 15 years of experience in research and technical writing bringing a keen understanding of data analysis and information synthesis to reach a wide variety of audiences. She studied adult education and instructional technology at Appalachian State University as well as technical and professional communication at East Carolina University. Zaneta has prepared technical p...

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Joel Ohman is the CEO of a private equity backed digital media company. He is a CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™, author, angel investor, and serial entrepreneur who loves creating new things, whether books or businesses. He has also previously served as the founder and resident CFP® of a national insurance agency, Real Time Health Quotes. He has an MBA from the University of South Florida. Jo...

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Reviewed by Joel Ohman
Founder & CFP®

UPDATED: Jan 20, 2021

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Here's what you need to know...

  • If you live in a no-fault state, your own insurance company will pay your claim up to your policy limit without the need to determine which driver was at fault
  • If you lack collision coverage, an uninsured motorist policy will pay for damage to your vehicle
  • Underinsured motorist coverage covers the other driver’s policy limit and your claim for damages after an accident

What should you do if you get into a car wreck and the other person involved in the accident does not have auto insurance?

The likelihood of being involved in a car accident with an uninsured driver is higher than you may realize. In some parts of the United States, the percentage of drivers operating a motor vehicle without insurance coverage may be as high as 25 percent.

The way to deal with this situation depends on the insurance laws in the state where you live and the insurance coverage you have in place.

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No-Fault Car Insurance Coverage

If you happen to live in a no-fault state for car insurance purposes, your own insurance company will pay out on your claim up to your policy limit without the need to determine which driver was at fault.

You are still responsible for paying your policy deductible before the insurance company will pay out on the claim.

For this reason, it’s important to be sure that you have not set the deductible rate too high to save money on your premium costs.

You want to be sure that the amount you choose is something that won’t have a huge financial impact if you need to make a claim on your car insurance coverage.

If having to pay a lot of money out of pocket after an accident would be difficult, a better choice may be to set a deductible rate that you feel more comfortable with, even though the premium rate will be higher.

If you live in a tort state where the fault is determined before the insurance company will pay out on a claim, the situation is a little different.

If another driver is at fault and he or she doesn’t have insurance, you have the right to sue to collect damages. Keep in mind that if another driver is uninsured because of financial reasons, it may be difficult for you to collect any damages awarded.

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Uninsured Motorist Coverage

To guard against the possibility of being involved in an accident where the other driver doesn’t have car insurance, you can buy uninsured motorist coverage.

It provides protection in situations where the other driver doesn’t have insurance coverage or who has a policy limit lower than the minimum level of coverage mandated by the state.

If his or her insurance company has denied the claim for damages, then the driver is considered uninsured. In the case of a hit and run driver, the uninsured motorist coverage pays benefits on claims for bodily injury, including pain and suffering, medical bills and lost wages.

In most states, drivers are not required to buy uninsured motorist coverage as part of their car insurance.

Whether or not this type of coverage has been mandated by the state, it’s a good idea to have it in place anyway.

In a situation where you have decided not to add collision coverage to your insurance package, the uninsured motorist policy will pay for damage to your vehicle.

The deductible for the uninsured motorist coverage may be less expensive than adding collision coverage to your policy, but do check with your insurance agent or your insurance company to find out about the cost involved.

Underinsured Motorist Coverage

You may also want to consider adding underinsured motorist coverage to your existing policy. This coverage is designed to make up the difference between the other driver’s policy limit and your claim for damages after an accident.

When economic times are difficult, people may choose to buy a policy with a lower limit to save money.

If a person is insured for only the minimum level of coverage mandated by the state, they may not have enough protection in place to pay the full amount owing if your injuries require a stay in the hospital, surgery or rehabilitation services.

You will still be required to pay a deductible on the underinsured motorist policy before the insurance company pays out on the policy.

The time to consider what would happen if you were involved in an accident where another driver has no insurance is before it occurs. Insurance coverage can’t protect you after the fact.

Adding uninsured motorist or underinsured motorist coverage to your insurance policy is a relatively inexpensive way to provide you and your family valuable financial protection.

If you are in the market for car insurance coverage, enter your ZIP code in our free comparison tool below for a quote today!

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