Uninsured / Underinsured Motorist Coverage

It’s not simply enough to insure yourself. You have to make sure you are protected against those who are not insured. Approximately 15 to 20 percent of drivers fail to maintain the mandatory minimum liability coverage. If you are in a serious crash with one of these drivers and damages exceed the limits of your own personal injury protection benefits, options for further compensation may be scant – unless you also have UM/UIM coverage.

At The Law Offices of Jeffrey S. Glassman, our Boston motorcycle accident lawyers recognize that motorcyclists especially need to tap into this coverage. According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, motorcyclists are 26 times more likely than those in passenger cars to die in a crash (per vehicle mile traveled) and five times more likely to be injured.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reports approximately 4,700 to 5,000 motorcyclists are killed each year, and another 90,000 suffer injuries.

It’s therefore critical not only to have UM/UIM coverage, but to understand your rights under these provisions in the event of a crash.

What is UM/UIM Coverage?

Registered motorcycles in Massachusetts must be covered by:

  • Liability insurance (minimum $20,000 per person and $40,000 per accident)
  • Personal injury protection (PIP) (minimum $8,000)
  • Property damage coverage ($5,000 per accident minimum)

Uninsured/Underinsured Motorist Coverage is additional coverage that protects motorcyclists, drivers, passengers and even bicyclists and pedestrians in situations that involve an at-fault driver who lacks insurance or may not have enough insurance to pay for injuries caused by that crash.

The exact amount paid depends on the type of expenses incurred for which the at-fault party would be liable. These would include:

  • Medical Bills
  • Lost Wages
  • Funeral Expenses

UM/UIM coverage can either pay for these expenses, or pick up the difference between what the other person’s insurance pays and what your actual injuries are – up to the limits of one’s policy.

It also provides a safety net for persons struck by hit-and-run drivers, whose identities – and therefore insurance statuses – are unknown. Approximately 12 percent of all accidents are hit-and-runs, according to the NHTSA, which further states a nearly 14 percent increase in hit-and-run deaths over a recent three-year time span.

Noteworthy is the fact this coverage only provides for compensatory damages. These are intended to indemnify for a particular loss. It does not cover punitive damages, which are intended to punish the offender for illegal or wrongful acts.

How Does UM/UIM Coverage Work?

Coverage for accidents involving uninsured or underinsured motorists is designed to cover the gap between available liability limits and injury expenses.

So for example, let’s say a motorcyclist is struck by a driver while stopped at a light. It’s clear the other driver is at-fault, and as a result of the crash, the motorcyclist suffered a broken leg. Total medical bills are $8,000, and he can’t work for six weeks, which causes him to lose $6,000 in wages.

Personal Injury Protection (PIP) benefits only cover $2,000 of those medical expenses. But the at-fault driver doesn’t have any insurance. Motorcyclist does have the option to sue the other driver individually, but if he doesn’t have much in the way of assets (which they likely don’t if they lack insurance in the first place), that could be a costly and pointless endeavor. And assuming it wasn’t a drunk driving accident, that person could likely avoid actually paying on any judgment against them personally by filing for bankruptcy.

Uninsured motorist benefits at that point would kick in. If the UM/UIM coverage is $20,000 per person and $40,000 per accident, the motorcyclist in this scenario would have his injuries and losses – totaled at $14,000 – covered.

It should be noted that Massachusetts does not require excess coverage by insurance companies. What this means is that the amount of benefits insureds can collect from their UM/UIM policies are offset by whatever the at-fault driver’s insurance company pays.

Why Motorcyclists Should Have UM/UIM Coverage

It’s a good idea for everyone to have UM/UIM coverage. But it’s doubly important for motorcyclists because it is not uncommon for the injuries sustained in these crashes to cost several thousand dollars or more.

What’s more, there are some health insurance policies that expressly decline to cover medical bills that stem from motorcycle accidents.

Further, most UM/UIM coverage is relatively inexpensive, generally adding about 10 percent onto the cost of your premiums. This is often well worth it when you consider the potential losses that can be incurred in a motorcycle accident.

Contact the Law Offices of Jeffrey S. Glassman today for a free and confidential consultation.

Call (617) 367-2900 – NO FEE UNLESS SUCCESSFUL

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