The state of California requires all drivers to have the minimum liability insurance to be able to drive. However, just because the law requires it does not mean that everyone has insurance. That is why Uninsured Motorist Coverage (UMC) exists.
What is Uninsured Motorist Coverage?
The California Insurance Code requires every insurance company to provide Uninsured Motorist Coverage for its clients. You can accept or decline it, but it might be useful to have it since, according to a recent study by the Insurance Research Council, about 16.6 percent of drivers in California were uninsured in 2019. The Uninsured Motorist Coverage encompasses two different categories:
1. Uninsured bodily injury (UMBI)
UMBI pays for any injuries caused by the accident with the uninsured. Its limits are the same as your liability coverage limits. Injuries and damages covered include:
- Medical expenses for you and the rest of the passengers in the car at the moment of the collision
- Your lost wages if your injuries prevent you from doing your daily work activities
- Treatment and compensation of lingering pain and emotional distress after the crash
- Funeral expenses if there is a fatality
To get coverage for your injuries, you need to get a doctor’s examination to prove them. Some injuries may take days or weeks to notice, so you should get a diagnosis even if you don´t feel any immediate pain or discomfort.
2. Uninsured motorist property damage (UMPD)
This type of coverage pays for the damages and losses of your car caused by the crash. The limit for this coverage is $3,500, and it applies solely when the driver at blame is identified. Unfortunately, this means that the UMPD can´t cover hit and run cases in California. Damages covered by UMPD include:
- Car repairs
- Auto parts replacement
- Rental charges for a car while yours is repaired
If possible, take pictures of the car. Documenting the scene would be in your best interest.
Health comes first. After the accident, going to the hospital is a priority, but don´t take too much time to contact your insurance company. Most insurance providers have specific time frames for this type of coverage requests, so make sure to look into that before the time runs out.
The consequences for the uninsured driver
As for the uninsured driver, the odds are that they will get a fine for driving without minimum liability insurance. Additionally, the authorities might suspend their driver’s license and impound their vehicle.