The purpose of paying for car insurance is to protect you and your family, right? If you are involved in an accident with someone and you are at fault, you want to make sure you are protected. What about when it’s not your fault? What if you are involved in an accident and the person responsible does not have liability insurance coverage; or, has so little liability insurance coverage that the coverage is not enough to pay for your property damage, your medical bills and your time missed from work.
In Tennessee, automobile insurance policies offer underinsured motorist coverage and uninsured motorist coverage. In the legal world, this is oftentimes referred to as “UM” or “UIM” coverage. But, what you need to know is that you need enough underinsured and uninsured motorist coverage to protect you and your family if you are involved in a car accident and the at fault driver either has no insurance or very little insurance.
Let’s assume the driver who hits you has very little liability insurance. Let’s assume your UM/UIM coverage amount exceeds the amount of liability coverage of the other party. Well, let’s hope it does. Because the UM/UIM coverage may be the amount you need to protect you or fill in the gap.
For example, the driver who hits you has $25,000 in liability coverage. You have $100,000 in UM/UIM coverage. Under this scenario you have the benefit of a $100,000 insurance policy because your UM/UIM coverage bridges the gap between the coverage you have available and the smaller liability policy of the individual who hit you. You may be able to collect their $25,000 and the $75,000 that bridges the gap. A Tennessee UM/UIM policy does not stack on top of the liability policy, but still offers you more protection assuming your UM/UIM coverage exceeds the other party’s liability coverage.
Moral of the story, get high UM/UIM limits. Otherwise, the money you are sparing from being spent on car insurance may be multiplied significantly if there is not enough coverage to pay for medical bills, lost wages and other damages associated with an accident.
Clear as mud? Understanding insurance laws can be difficult. This is why it is very important to work with attorneys who are familiar with personal injury law.
Tommy Santel is a co-founding partner of Parkerson Santel PLLC. Tommy is a former government prosecutor. He is a Tennessee Supreme Court Rule 31 General Civil Mediator. Tommy’s practice areas include criminal defense and civil litigation.
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