What Is Uninsured Motorist Coverage?

What Is Uninsured Motorist Coverage?

Steven Schwartzapfel -Founding Partner Jul 12, 2022

For more than 35 years, Steven Schwartzapfel, the founding member of Schwartzapfel Lawyers P.C., has been one of New York’s most prominent personal injury attorneys. Steve represents clients in all types of personal injury cases. His experience, skill, and dedication have enabled Schwartzapfel Lawyers P.C. to recover hundreds of millions of dollars for their clients.

Auto accidents happen throughout New York with alarming frequency. The New York State Department of Health reports that nearly 300 people die from auto accidents each year.

Whether you live in the Big Apple or any other city throughout the Empire State, you must drive carefully to avoid car accidents ranging from fender benders to T-bone collisions and much more.

Unfortunately, even the most careful drivers can still be the victim of hit-and-runs, driver negligence, inclement weather, and other factors. When this happens and you or a loved one is injured in an auto crash, it’s important to know that the at-fault driver’s insurance should help cover at least some of the other party’s accident-related costs.

But what if the at-fault driver doesn’t have insurance? That’s where uninsured motorist coverage comes into play.

In this guide, we’ll break down what uninsured motorist coverage is and how it works. You can also contact Schwartzapfel Lawyers today at 1-800-966-4999 for a free case evaluation and more information about your legal options.

Uninsured Motorist Insurance Information

Uninsured motorist coverage is a special insurance policy designed to cover accident and medical expenses in the event you are injured in an auto crash where the at-fault driver isn’t insured. Note, please, that driving without insurance is illegal in New York State. As such, every driver within its limits is required to carry uninsured motorist coverage.

However, as not everyone follows the law, you could find yourself involved in an auto crash where the at-fault party isn’t properly insured. Because New York is a no-fault car insurance state, car insurance policies typically cover medical and property damage costs that arise due to car crashes and accidents.

If an at-fault driver doesn’t have collision insurance, that can become a significant problem for the injured driver. However, uninsured motorist coverage protects your finances from this potentiality. It only kicks in if the other driver is not insured or does not have enough insurance to cover your medical bills.

By decreasing the likelihood of drivers having to cover accident-related expenses out of pocket, uninsured motorist coverage provides peace of mind to New York drivers, who, consequently, can worry less about at-fault drivers not being insured.

What Does UM Coverage Cover?

Standard uninsured motorist coverage typically comes as uninsured motorist bodily injury liability insurance (UMBI). As a result, this collision coverage pays for an uninsured driver’s:

  • Past and future medical payments and health insurance deductibles related to the auto crash
  • Pain and suffering in some cases (usually if the injuries were especially severe and/or debilitating)
  • Lost wages if you are unable to work for a certain amount of time after the crash
  • Funeral expenses if an individual is killed in a hit-and-run accident or another type of crash

In addition to protecting you as a driver, uninsured motorist bodily injury coverage protects you if you are a vehicle passenger or pedestrian. It further covers you if you are riding a bike and are impacted by an uninsured, at-fault driver.

Note, however, that standard uninsured motorist coverage does not pay for property damage, so you could be on the hook to pay for car repairs if you don’t have this type of policy. To protect yourself, uninsured motorist property damage insurance (UMPD) can be used to cover damage to your property, such as your vehicle or bike.

Fortunately, many insurance companies offer full-coverage insurance. In exchange for a slightly higher premium each month, you, your medical health, and your property can be fully protected if you are ever involved in an accident with an uninsured driver.

To learn more, speak directly with a Schwartzapfel Lawyers insurance expert by dialing 1-800-966-4999. While your consultation will be free, the advice provided to you may save you miles of headache, heartache, and financial strain down the road.

Is Uninsured Motorist Coverage Required in New York?

Yes, uninsured motorist coverage is required in New York State. Just as New York requires legal drivers to carry other forms of car insurance like personal injury protection insurance (PIP), it also requires all drivers to have a certain amount of uninsured motorist coverage.

Specifically, you must have:

  • $25,000 in uninsured motorist bodily injury coverage (UMBI) coverage per person. This can pay for a total of $50,000 per accident if two individuals are injured in the same incident.
  • $25,000 in underinsured motorist bodily injury coverage per person up to the same maximum of $50,000 per accident.

Note that New York State does not require you to have uninsured motorist property damage insurance. This type of insurance protects you from having to pay for property repair and/or replacement costs in auto accidents with uninsured drivers.

That said, it is usually wise to acquire this policy so you don’t have to pay out of pocket for damaged property later on.

Other Insurance Requirements in New York

In addition to the above-mentioned uninsured motorist liability coverage, New York drivers must carry auto insurance policies with other liability limits. These include:

  • $25,000 of coverage for bodily injuries per person
  • $50,000 of bodily injury coverage per accident or enough to cover two people
  • $10,000 of property damage
  • $50,000 of personal injury protection coverage

Note: Most auto insurance policies are described with three numbers, such as 25/50/10. This breakdown describes the minimum amounts for bodily injury coverage per person, bodily injury coverage per accident, and property damage coverage.

As well, New York auto accident insurance coverage has different liability requirements for any deaths that are caused due to accidents or crashes. For example, the $25,000 individual coverage limit would increase to $50,000 under such circumstances, while the $50,000 per accident limit would increase to $100,000.

For more on this, as well as a personalized case evaluation, call Schwartzapfel Lawyers today at 1-800-966-4999.

How Does Uninsured Motorist Coverage Work?

Generally, uninsured motorist coverage only kicks in after another car insurance has been utilized.

For instance, say that you have personal injury protection insurance (PIP), as is required by New York State. You get into a car crash and sustain injuries due to the negligence of the other driver. However, the driver doesn’t have any insurance coverage, so even if they are liable for your damages, they can’t pay you.

To cover your medical expenses, your personal injury protection would cover the first batch of medical bills. And if that doesn’t cover all of your damages, then your uninsured motorist coverage would come into play.

In this way, you can think of uninsured motorist coverage as a second layer of financial protection in the event of an auto crash where the at-fault party can’t pay you what you are entitled to.

Then, if your medical expenses are still not taken care of, you can potentially petition your healthcare insurance provider. Many healthcare insurance providers only cover medical expenses after your auto insurance company has footed the bill as much as possible.

Note, too, that your uninsured motorist coverage will kick in regardless of who is at fault. Because New York is a no-fault state, you can’t typically sue an at-fault driver except under specific and egregious circumstances, which you can learn more about by calling Schwartzapfel Lawyers at 1-800-966-4999.

The big takeaway: Part of the importance of uninsured motorist coverage is that it protects you no matter whether you, the other driver, or no one is ultimately at fault for the incident and/or injuries it caused.

Is Uninsured Motorist Coverage the Same as Underinsured Motorist Coverage?

No, uninsured motorist coverage is not the same as underinsured motorist coverage. Uninsured motorist coverage only protects you if you’re in a crash with a negligent or at-fault driver who doesn’t have any liability insurance whatsoever.

In contrast, underinsured motorist coverage protects you if you’re in a crash with an at-fault driver who does have some liability insurance. If, for instance, the driver’s liability coverage is too low to pay for your medical expenses and/or property damage, underinsured motorist policies will kick in to help foot the bill(s).

Significantly, at-fault driver insurance companies usually pay for all the damages possible up to their policy limits. But remember: Whereas policy limits typically max out in the $50,000 to $100,000 range, medical bills can certainly run higher.

Underinsured motorist coverage, therefore, can be financially important if you don’t want to use your health insurance after an auto accident, or if your health insurance does not extend to injuries sustained in car crashes.

How Much Uninsured Motorist Coverage Should You Buy?

For many New York drivers, this is a very important question. While New York state law requires you to buy a minimum of uninsured motorist coverage, should you go above and beyond?

Ultimately, this answer depends on your comfort level as well as how protected you want to be in the event of a car accident or crash. Because you can’t always anticipate your total medical bills and ongoing costs, it’s difficult to say how much coverage is enough.

In general, though, you should look at your monthly budget to determine how much you can afford to comfortably pay in terms of premiums. With that information, you should then pick a coverage amount that works for your budget. Please note, however, that most New York drivers are perfectly fine carrying the minimum amount of uninsured motorist coverage.

For an assessment of the options that best fit your needs, call Schwartzapfel Lawyers now at no charge. Simply dial 1-800-966-4999 and allow us the honor and privilege of assisting with your auto, insurance, and/or legal needs.

Is Buying Property Coverage Worth It?

As noted above, typical uninsured motorist coverage does not include coverage for property (e.g., damage to your vehicle). Instead, it’s designed to provide financial assistance to pay for medical bills.

Many New York drivers could, however, benefit from purchasing uninsured motorist property damage coverage, as this insurance explicitly protects property that could be damaged in an auto accident, regardless of fault.

Again, you should consider your monthly budget when determining which premium you’re most comfortable with. Then, you should contact your insurance provider and purchase coverage accordingly.

What About Lawsuits?

New York is a no-fault state, but you can sue at-fault drivers if your injuries are particularly severe and/or debilitating, or if the at-fault driver was especially negligent in their behavior. That said, an uninsured driver is not a reliable source of compensation to pay for your medical bills.

So, while you can sue an at-fault driver if they are uninsured, you likely won’t recover significant assets that way, and, consequently, may not be able to fully pay your medical bills. Said differently, if you win a lawsuit against an uninsured driver, there’s no telling whether their assets or money will be enough to compensate you for your medical bills.

On top of that, courts do not order at-fault individuals to sell all of their possessions and assets to pay for medical expenses, even if they are egregiously at fault for a car crash.

That said, there are some potential alternative routes you can take if you need to recover damages. Your New York auto accident attorney might:

  • Determine that another party is financially liable or responsible for the crash and any injuries you sustained. For example, if your auto crash was due to the negligence of another driver in addition to the negligence of a construction company that left debris on the road, you could sue the construction company and receive monetary compensation that way.
  • Find out that the driver is uninsured but is wealthy enough to pay for some of your medical bills, even if it’s through monthly installments.

Overall, it’s rarely worthwhile to sue an uninsured driver. Depending on the specifics of your case, however, your lawyer may advise you differently.

But remember: The goal of auto accident lawsuits is to recover compensation. And as most uninsured drivers don’t have enough money to pay for insurance, they usually don’t have enough to cover your medical bills either.

For more information about this topic, please contact Schwartzapfel Lawyers today at 1-800-966-4999.

What Schwartzapfel Lawyers Can Do For You

While suing an at-fault but uninsured driver is not usually an economically viable choice, knowledgeable auto accident attorneys like Schwartzapfel Lawyers can still provide important assistance for your case when you call us at 1-800-966-4999.

With Schwartzapfel Lawyers on your side, we can determine:

  • Whether you have grounds for a lawsuit.
  • Whether it’s a good idea to sue the at-fault driver based on their insurance coverage, their likely assets and wealth level, and other factors.
  • Gather evidence on your behalf if you wish to file a lawsuit or pursue arbitration or some other type of dispute negotiation. This can include pulling traffic camera footage, taking down eyewitness accounts, and more.
  • Provide sound legal counsel throughout the lawsuit process.

Contact Schwartzapfel Lawyers Today!

To drive legally in New York State, uninsured motorist coverage is required by law. Still, if you or someone you love is injured in an auto crash with an at-fault driver who is uninsured, this coverage may not cover the full cost of your medical bills and accident-related expenses. That’s where the auto insurance experts at Schwartzapfel Lawyers come in.

When a lawsuit is your best means of recovering financially, we’ll fight for you in and outside of court to make sure you receive the full damages you need to medically and financially recover.

As knowledgeable New York City auto accident lawyers, we can negotiate with insurance companies, bring the matter to court if necessary, and provide sound legal counsel from start to finish. Don’t wait. Contact us today for a free case evaluation at 1-800-966-4999!

Sources:

Schwartzapfel Lawyers, P.C. | Fighting For You

Motor Vehicle Traffic Crash Statistics: New York State Residents | NY State Department of Health

What Is Uninsured Motorist Coverage? | Forbes Advisor

Minimum Auto Insurance Requirements | Department of Financial Services

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