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As a personal injury attorney, I often meet people that have suffered serious injuries as a result of a car accident. Unfortunately, sometimes I have to explain to them that the person responsible for their injuries either has no insurance, or inadequate insurance, to fairly compensate them.
In New York State the statutory minimum amount of liability insurance a person is required to carry for a motor vehicle accident is $25,000 per injured person and $50,000 for an entire occurrence. This means that no matter how severe a person’s injuries are, they will only be able to receive $25,000 from the insurance carrier if injured by a person with such an automobile policy. This can be devastating should the person be so severely injured that they have large medical bills and/or are unable to return to work and the negligent party is either insolvent or has little money.
With proper planning there are ways to protect oneself from such a situation. When purchasing insurance coverage for an automobile policy, most people are concerned with only one factor, cost. However, there are relatively inexpensive coverage’s offered by an insurance company that can protect you from an uninsured or underinsured driver.
Every insurance company is required to offer Uninsured Motorist Coverage and Supplemental Under Insured Motorist Coverage (UM/UIM). This coverage will commence if a person is injured by another party that has either no insurance or a minimum policy. In essence, the injured parties insurance company will act as the defendant and pay for the damages suffered by their own insured. Further, this is done in an expedited arbitration proceeding, as opposed to a drawn out legal battle.
The minimum amount of Uninsured/Supplemental Under Insured coverage required in New York is also $25,000 per injured person and $50,000 per occurrence. That means everyone that purchases automobile insurance in New York State has at least that amount of coverage included in the automobile insurance policy.
For just a few dollars more per month a person can elevate these amounts significantly. Insurance companies differ on the maximum amount of Uninsured/Supplemental Under Insured Insurance that they will offer. But most insurance companies offer at least $500,000. This means that should a person be injured by another party with no insurance or inadequate insurance, they can recover their damages from their own policy up to $500,000. This type of policy will also protect family members and other people in your vehicle.
I highly recommend this type of coverage to all my clients. Hopefully, they will never need it. But should they suffer an injury from an uninsured or underinsured driver, they will at least have the piece of mind of knowing they are financially protected.