While Oklahoma law requires all motorists to purchase auto insurance, not everyone complies. The Insurance Research Council estimates that in 2012, which is the most recent year data was analyzed, one in eight United States motorists drove without insurance. In Oklahoma, that number was one in four — the highest rate in the United States. This rate translates to nearly one million resident uninsured motorists on our state’s roads every day.
When one of these uninsured drivers injures a pedestrian or another driver, the victim could end up on the hook for some or all the resulting costs, which is why you should consider purchasing uninsured/underinsured motorist (UM/UIM) coverage to prevent financial disaster after a wreck.
Keep reading to learn more about UM/UIM coverage, and if you’re ever injured by a negligent driver who has no insurance coverage or inadequate coverage, please contact Atkins & Markoff to discuss your legal options before speaking with an insurance adjuster.
What Is UM/UIM Coverage and How Does It Work?
Per the Compulsory Insurance Law of Oklahoma, our state’s drivers must carry three types of liability coverage:
- $25,000 for bodily injury to or death for any one individual in an accident
- $50,000 for bodily injury to or death for any one individual in an accident
- $25,000 for property damage to other vehicles or property in an accident
Still, despite this law, not all drivers carry the required minimum coverage amount. So, to protect your safety and financial stability, you should think about adding uninsured or underinsured motorist coverage to your auto insurance.
UM/UIM coverage breaks down into two separate but related types of coverage: uninsured motorist coverage and underinsured motorist coverage.
Uninsured Motorist Coverage
Uninsured motorist (UM) coverage protects drivers and their passengers in case a negligent and uninsured driver hits them and causes injuries or property damage. Covered individuals fall into two categories:
- Class one includes the person named on the insurance policy and any relatives living in the household. These individuals are entitled to all the benefits from all relevant insurance policies whose premiums have been paid.
- Class two includes everyone in the vehicle at the time of a collision. These individuals are entitled to benefits only under the specific policy that covered the vehicle at the time of the wreck; they may not “policies” under which they aren’t covered.
Underinsured Motorist Coverage
Underinsured motorist (UIM) coverage applies to collisions where the negligent party responsible for the wreck has an insurance policy, but the policy’s limits are too low to compensate the victim fully. The policy goes into effect when the injured victim’s losses exceed the at-fault driver’s coverage, and it covers any crash-related injuries and property damage in excess of the at-fault driver’s policy limit and up to the UIM policy limit.
In Oklahoma, every driver has the right to buy UM/UIM insurance coverage in the same amount as their bodily injury liability coverage. Drivers who don’t wish to carry UM/UIM coverage on their auto insurance policy must sign a statement acknowledging they’ve waived their right to UM/UIM insurance when purchasing or renewing their existing policy.
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Should You Purchase UM/UIM Coverage?
If a negligent driver hits your vehicle and causes a serious injury or even a death, your basic auto insurance coverage might not fully cover the resulting expenses such as medical costs and lost wages. After all, a policy limit of $25,000 (the state minimum amount of liability coverage) isn’t much when you’re talking about surgery or an extended stay in the hospital, not to mention being out of work for a long time. UM/UIM coverage also covers pain and suffering and funeral costs for everyone in your vehicle at the time of the wreck.
Think of it this way: your basic auto insurance policy protects other people in case you cause a crash. UM/UIM coverage, however, is an investment in your safety and financial stability as well as that of anyone who might be driving or riding in your car. And since there are so many uninsured drivers in Oklahoma, it’s always a good idea to add UM/UIM coverage to your auto insurance in case the worst happens and an underinsured, negligent driver injures you or someone you love.
If you choose not to purchase UM/UIM coverage, your current policy might still offer additional protection. For instance, personal injury protection (PIP) coverage and medical payments insurance cover medical costs regardless of who is at fault. And for property damage, collision coverage will reimburse you for all damage to your vehicle when an uninsured or uninsured driver causes a crash.
Contact Atkins & Markoff to Get Help After a Car Accident in Oklahoma
There are more uninsured drivers in Oklahoma than any other state in the country, which means even law-abiding, insured drivers are extremely vulnerable if they don’t carry UM/UIM coverage. Purchasing UM/UIM insurance not only provides financial protection in case a negligent, underinsured driver hits you, but it also offers the peace of mind that comes with knowing you’re covered even in the worst circumstances.
If you or a loved one has suffered injuries in an accident caused by an uninsured or underinsured motorist, please contact Atkins & Markoff today to schedule your free, no-obligation consultation so we can discuss your case and your legal options. Call (405) 607-8757 or complete this brief contact form to schedule your appointment today.