Posted on behalf of Henness & Haight on Nov 06, 2014 in Insurance News
In Nevada, as well as most states, anyone driving a vehicle on the road is required to have liability insurance. If a person with liability caused a collision, the policy will cover damage to the other person's vehicle and for any injuries that occur as a result of the accident, but only up to the coverage limits. The reason states require liability insurance is because driving can be a risky activity. If a driver were to cause damages but was unable to pay for them, the person not at fault would suffer an have no ability for compensation. Rather than expecting people who drive to automatically to have enough savings to cover any potential damages they may cause, the states determined that mandating liability insurance was the solution.
Despite the insurance mandate, many motorists still choose to drive uninsured. Either they are "gaming the system" and hopefully will not get caught, or they simply cannot afford to pay insurance but must still drive to earn a living. Some motorists may have even simply forgotten about their policy and allowed it to lapse.
Whatever the reason, when motorists choose to drive without the state minimum required liability insurance, they are putting everyone on the road at financial risk. If they cause a wreck, they will face criminal charges for being uninsured, but they will most likely not be held accountable for all of the damages they cause unless you take aggressive legal action.
But even if a court judge ruled that they owe you compensation, this process can take months or more. This fact applies doubly so if you intend to sue them in civil court. Worse yet, once the ruling has been handed down, the negligent driver may be unable to pay the expenses out of pocket and can even file for bankruptcy protection.
The bottom line is that when an uninsured motorist gets in a wreck with you, it quickly becomes your problem and not theirs.
Even with state-mandated liability insurance, many drivers will choose to get the cheapest possible coverage they can, which will have extremely low coverage amounts. In Nevada, that limit is only $15,000 per person with a maximum of $30,000 per collision regardless of how many people were injured. This is known as a "15/30" policy.
When a driver with only 15/30/5 coverage causes a wreck, this means that their policy will pay out a maximum of $15,000 per person injured but $30,000 maximum per accident. Thus, if someone causes a wreck and you and two passengers sustain severe injuries with medical bills at $15,000 each, no one will be fully compensated.
When you get in a wreck with a person with this type of inadequate or non-existent coverage, you will be forced to collect the remainder from the at-fault driver or pay out of pocket unless you have uninsured or underinsured motorist protection coverage.
With uninsured or underinsured motorist coverage ("UM/UIM"), you will have a policy from your own insurance company that will kick in as soon as the at-fault driver exceeds their coverage limit. This safety net is why many people, including attorneys, recommend adding uninsured motorist coverage to your existing policy. And the bad thing about it is that if you were not responsible for causing the wreck, it is illegal for your insurance company to raise your rates should you choose to utilize your benefits.
Keep in mind, absolutely none of these scenarios apply if you were at-fault for the wreck.