Why I Really Need Uninsured/Underinsured Motorist Coverage in Texas

Texas is a state known for its wide-open roads and sense of freedom. Unfortunately, this freedom on the road can come with a hidden danger: a high number of uninsured and underinsured drivers. Sharing the road with these drivers can be risky, and having the right insurance coverage becomes crucial in protecting yourself financially in case of an accident.

Our Carrollton car accident attorneys from The Law Offices of Tim O’Hare will answer the question many drivers are wondering: Do I really need uninsured/ underinsured motorist coverage in Texas? We’ll explore the risks of uninsured or underinsured drivers in Texas, explain what uninsured or underinsured motorist coverage is and why it’s important, and guide you in understanding when legal advice is needed after an accident with an uninsured or insured driver. 

The Dangers of Uninsured or Underinsured Drivers in Texas

Texas leads the nation in the number of uninsured drivers on the road. As it sounds, these are drivers who have no automobile insurance. According to the Texas Department of Insurance, More than 2.6 million state-registered vehicles are not matched to an insurance policy. That’s 12% of the state’s registered vehicles. This means that if you’re involved in an accident caused by an uninsured driver, you are very likely to be left facing significant financial burdens for medical bills, car repairs, and lost wages. Medical bills, especially for serious injuries, can quickly add up to tens to hundreds of thousands of dollars. Without preventative insurance coverage, you could be responsible for these costs, causing significant financial hardship.

Compounding this huge problem, is the related issue of many Texas and out-of-state drivers being underinsured. As discussed below, an underinsured driver does not have enough bodily injury or property damage insurance coverage to satisfy the damages caused by the driver’s negligence. In this environment of sky-high medical costs and high vehicle costs, this scenario can be as nearly financially devastating as an at-fault driver having no insurance coverage. 

Texas Laws and Auto Insurance Requirements

Although some don’t comply, it’s Texas law that all passenger vehicles carry minimum liability insurance coverage. Commercial vehicles have different coverage requirements that are not addressed in this blog. Commonly, liability requirements in Texas for passenger vehicles are referred to as 30/60/25 which is short for $30,000/$60,000/$25,000. Let’s break down what each proportion entails under minimum coverage:

  • Bodily Injury Liability (BI): This covers injuries to others caused by the at-fault driver’s negligence. The minimum coverage is $30,000/$60,000. The first number represents the maximum coverage per person injured, and the second number represents the total coverage for all injuries in an accident. The dilemma arises where there are three or more injured people and the combined dollar amount of medical treatment paid or owed exceeds the amount of coverage. In this scenario, there is insufficient coverage to fully compensate all injured people. The follow-up question is: how does the $60,000 maximum amount get distributed to the injured people?
  • Property Damage Liability (PD): This covers damage to the property of others caused by the at-fault driver, including vehicles, personal effects, and physical property like signs and landscaping. The minimum required coverage for PD in Texas is $25,000. With current vehicle prices and/or multiple vehicles or items damaged, this amount could be grossly inadequate to cover all damages.

What is Uninsured/Underinsured Motorist Coverage (UM Coverage)?

Uninsured/Underinsured motorist (UM/UIM) coverage is an optional type of auto insurance that protects you and your passengers in case of an accident caused by a driver who either has no liability insurance or not enough to cover your damages. It can also provide coverage for hit-and-run accidents where the at-fault driver cannot be identified.

There are two types of UM/UIM coverage:

  • Bodily Injury: This coverage helps offset the cost of medical expenses, lost wages, and noneconomic damages like pain and suffering, impairments, and disfigurement resulting from an accident caused by an uninsured or underinsured driver.
  • Property Damage: This coverage helps pay for repairs or replacement of your vehicle if it’s damaged in an accident caused by an uninsured or underinsured driver.

Uninsured motorist coverage is optional, but highly recommended in Texas due to the high number of uninsured drivers.

Uninsured/Underinsured Motorist Coverage Is Important in Texas

Given the high number of uninsured drivers in Texas and the high costs of vehicles and medical treatment, having uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage is highly recommended. It offers multiple key benefits that can provide significant financial protection and peace of mind in case of an accident:

  • Financial Safety Net: UM/UIM coverage acts as a financial safety net in case of an accident with an uninsured or underinsured driver. It can help cover medical expenses, lost wages, car repairs, and noneconomic damages, shielding you from the burden of these damages.
  • Peace of Mind on the Road: Knowing you have UM/UIM coverage allows you to drive with greater peace of mind. Even if you encounter an uninsured or underinsured driver, you’ll have the confidence that you’re better financially protected.
  • Hit-and-Run Accidents: UM coverage is also crucial in hit-and-run accidents where the at-fault driver is unidentified. Without UM coverage, you’d likely be responsible for all the damages yourself.

Here’s a scenario to illustrate the benefits of Uninsured Motorist coverage:
Imagine you’re driving down the boulevard and a driver runs a red light, causing a collision. The at-fault driver flees the scene, and you’re later informed the car was uninsured. Without UM coverage, you’d be responsible for all your medical bills, lost wages due to injuries, and car repairs. However, with UM coverage, your Bodily Injury and Property Damage UM would kick in:

  • Bodily Injury UM: This coverage would help pay for your medical treatment, lost wages, and pain and suffering resulting from the accident.
  • Property Damage UM: This coverage would help cover the repairs or replacement of your vehicle.

Here’s a scenario to illustrate the benefits of Underinsured Motorist coverage:
Now Imagine you’re driving down the highway and a driver makes an unsafe lane change causing a collision with your vehicle and another vehicle injuring you, your passenger, and the other driver. Each of the injured people’s recoverable medical damages is $50,000 for a total of $150,000 and the damage to each vehicle that was hit is $25,000 for a total of $50,000. The at-fault driver only has the minimum coverage of $30,000/$60,000/$25,000, but fortunately, you have UM/UIM of $50,000/$100,000/$50,000. Without underinsured coverage, there would be insufficient coverage on the underinsured driver’s policy to cover your damages alone, let alone your passengers’ damages and the other innocent driver’s injuries and vehicle damages. However, with your underinsured coverage, your and your passenger’s bodily injuries and your property damage would be fully covered. 

If You’ve Been in an Accident With an Uninsured/Underinsured Driver, You Need an Attorney.

The aftermath of an accident with an uninsured or underinsured driver can be incredibly stressful and financially devastating. While you may consider tackling the insurance process yourself, uninsured/underinsured motorist claims often involve intricate legal and policy intricacies. Having an experienced personal injury lawyer who specializes in uninsured/underinsured motorist cases on your side can help ensure you receive the maximum compensation for your injuries and damages.

An experienced attorney can guide you through the complexities of the uninsured/underinsured insurance coverage issues, understand your legal rights under Texas’ “fault” system, and build a strong case to maximize the recovery of your losses.

Additionally, here are some general situations where experienced legal representation is crucial:

  • Serious Injuries: If you’ve sustained severe injuries, an attorney can ensure you receive maximum compensation for medical care, lost wages, and pain and suffering.
  • Uninsured/Underinsured Driver: If the at-fault driver lacks insurance or their coverage is insufficient, an attorney can explore all options to recover compensation, including your UM policy or the at-fault driver’s assets.
  • Coverage Issues: If your insurance company denies your claim or offers a low settlement, an attorney can fight for the fair compensation you deserve.
  • Fault Disputes: If there’s a disagreement about who caused the accident, an attorney can gather evidence and advocate for you.
  • Settlement Dissatisfaction: If you’re unhappy with the initial settlement offer, an attorney can negotiate on your behalf for a better outcome.

When your financial well-being is at stake, legal advice is an important step towards ensuring you receive the compensation you deserve. An experienced attorney can empower you to navigate the legal complexities, fight for your rights, and achieve a successful resolution.

Why I Really Need Uninsured/Underinsured Motorist Coverage in Texas

Don't Face This Alone: Contact The Law Offices of Tim O'Hare for a Free Consultation.

If you’ve been injured in an accident caused by an uninsured/underinsured driver, the road to recovery can feel overwhelming. The Law Offices of Tim O’Hare can help. We offer a free consultation to discuss your case, answer your questions, and advise you on your legal options.

Our Carrollton car accident attorneys understand the unique challenges you face after an accident with an uninsured/underinsured driver. Our team has extensive experience handling uninsured/underinsured motorist claims in Texas, and we’re committed to guiding you through the claims process every step of the way. We’ll advocate for your rights and fight to ensure you receive the maximum compensation you deserve.

Call us today for a free, no-obligation consultation.