Uninsured and Underinsured: What’s the Difference?

OHare - Car Insurance Blog

by Tim O’Hare

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Texas laws require all drivers to carry liability insurance to cover the costs of accidents they cause. Basic coverage in Texas is known as 30/60/25 coverage—$30,000 for each injured person, up to $60,000 for all injured people combined, and $25,000 for property damage.

Even though Texas laws require all drivers to carry insurance, the laws do not keep some drivers from driving without insurance. The Insurance Research Council estimates that drivers in the U.S. have a 14 percent chance of being involved in an accident caused by an uninsured driver.

You may have heard the terms uninsured and underinsured before. What is the difference between underinsured and uninsured, and how might it affect you?

The term “underinsured motorist” refers to a driver of a motor vehicle who carries an amount of liability insurance within the limits required by law (30/60/25), but not enough to cover the damages caused in the actual collision. In other words, in the event that driver is at fault in an accident where injuries and damage is so severe, his or her insurance does not adequately compensate their victims, that driver is referred to as an “underinsured motorist.”

The term “uninsured motorist” refers to a driver of a motor vehicle who does not carry liability insurance, or to an unidentified driver of a hit-and-run accident. It can also refer to an insured driver whose insurance has denied coverage for some reason. According to the Insurance Research Council, about 15 percent of Texas’ licensed drivers do not carry liability insurance.

In Texas, motorists who are caught driving without liability insurance can be fined on their first offense. Consecutive offenses could result in suspension of their driver’s license and even vehicle impounding. In the City of Dallas, uninsured drivers can have their car towed.

Because not all drivers carry liability insurance, despite the laws requiring them to do so, for more than 30 years, the Texas Insurance Code has mandated that all insurance companies doing business in Texas offer uninsured and underinsured motorist protection. Simply put, drivers who do have insurance, are covering uninsured and underinsured motorists with their policies when they take out Uninsured/Underinsured Motorists coverage. (Hit-and-run drivers are considered uninsured motorists.)

Uninsured and underinsured motorist insurance coverage applies to the policyholder and any family members residing in the same household, as well as passengers in the insured vehicle and anyone driving the insured vehicle with the owner’s permission. Uninsured and underinsured insurance coverage (UM/UIM) does not apply to vehicles owned by the policyholder that are not listed on the policy.

If you have been injured in an accident caused by an uninsured motorist, don’t expect your insurance company to do you any favors. Your insurance company will do everything it can to lessen the amount they pay to you, and insurance companies regularly tell people they are being paid what is “fair,” and frequently their definition of “fair” is far different than what most juries and policy/holders would describe as fair.

In the event of injury or death in a car accident, working with a trusted personal injury attorney will ensure you receive all compensation due to you. If you have been injured in a car accident, or have lost a loved one in a wreck, call us. The experienced legal team at The Law Offices of Tim O’Hare will guide you through your case and ensure you get everything you deserve.

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