All proper and legal drivers in Washington state must carry liability insurance totaling a minimum of $25,000 per person and up to $50,000 per collision. As we all know, however, not all drivers feel that the law applies to them and will drive on Washington roads without insurance whatsoever. Underinsured / Uninsured Motorist protection (UIM/UM) is an optional coverage in Washington, and it can help protect you from other, less-than-properly-insured drivers on the road.
So, what exactly does UIM/UM insurance do and is it worth it?
This elective insurance provides a floating layer of coverage that protects you, your family, and passengers in your vehicle. Uninsured motorist insurance will help in the circumstances described above – when a driver has no insurance and causes a collision with your vehicle. Alternatively, underinsured motorist insurance provides additional coverage if your injuries and damages are valued higher than the low liability limits afforded by the at-fault driver’s liability limits.
Here’s an easy example. On your way home from work, you’re t-boned by a driver paying more attention to their phone instead of the roads. It appears you’ve broken you arm and are rushed to the emergency room. With thousands of dollars in medical bills, wage loss, and lost time, your damages may exceed the $25,000 minimum limit policy purchased by the at-fault driver. After resolving the claim for the policy limits, you have the opportunity to make an underinsured motorist claim with your own auto carrier up to the limits you purchased prior to the collision.
These types of additional insurance coverages are an invaluable tool of protection. Washington’s liability limit only covers the bare minimum. Realistically, in today’s day and age, with the cost of medical expenses and wages so high, even more mild to moderate impacts can result in breaking through a minimum $25,000 liability limits. In most scenarios, UIM/UM insurance is well worth the inexpensive cost associated with the additional coverage.
Washington’s legislature has deemed this floating coverage so important that it must be offered to all insured drivers. Additionally, it must be offered at a minimum at the same level that was purchased for liability insurance. In other words, if I purchase a $100,000 liability protection policy, I must be offered a $100,000 UIM/UM insurance. To avoid this insurance or elect a comparatively smaller UIM/UM policy, the insured must sign a written waiver of coverage. If the insurer cannot locate the written waiver, it is assumed that you have the insurance available.
Despite working with your own auto insurance, UIM/UM insurance remains adversarial. The insurer steps into the shoes of the at-fault driver and has all the defenses available in their defense. These claims may be hotly contested, and ensuring you are properly represented is a top priority. The experienced attorneys at Magnuson Lowell PS offer complimentary Personal Injury consultations to help you and your loved ones understand their rights and responsibilities after an auto collision.