You cannot always count on other people to do the right thing.

Picture this: You are in a car accident. It’s a bad accident that totals your car and causes severe injuries that will require surgical repair and a long rehabilitation period. You’re going to be out of work for over a month. The accident was entirely someone else’s fault and the driver of the other car admitted liability at the scene to the responding police officers. Now, the only thing left to do is get paid by the other driver’s insurance company. But they have the minimum coverage for the State of California, which is $15,000 per injured person and a total of $30,000 for the accident as a whole. Or the driver is completely uninsured. You have damages up to around $750,000. What comes next?

Well, if you try to recover damages over and above insurance policy limits, the person who caused the car accident will most likely file for bankruptcy. If it’s a minor or person driving someone else’s car, paying the policy limits will release them of all liability to you and no suit could even be filed.

As a law firm that deals with auto accidents, we see this scenario fairly often. Drivers in California, even when required to carry insurance, don’t always follow the law. They also, at times, simply do the bare minimum, leaving injured parties to deal with the consequences. This can leave injured parties with unpaid medical bills, unrecovered lost income, and unrecovered damages for pain and suffering.

This is where uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage comes into play. It is relatively inexpensive to carry: for $100,000 coverage, it may cost around $50 biannually ($100 a year). Carrying what is typically called UM insurance or UM coverage can save drivers from major headaches down the road.

The way it works if fairly simple: Once the funds from the other driver’s policy are paid off, or when there’s no insurance to be paid, your own insurance company can step in to pay medical bills and other damages from the accident. Your insurance company, unlike that of the other driver, owes you a duty of good faith and fair dealing. If they act in a way that is contrary to that duty, bad faith litigation may result, and that can cost insurance companies much more in large awards and punitive damages.

This firm is not an insurance company, nor do we have any recommendations on where to buy insurance. This is not a sponsored post, and we do not have any special relationships with any specific insurance companies. However, based on our significant experience with accidents and their ramifications, we do highly recommend talking to your insurance agent about getting UM coverage.