Why Should You Have to Go Through Your Own Insurance Company if You Were Not At Fault for the Uninsured or Underinsured Motorist Accident?
Many victims hit by an uninsured or underinsured motorist are outraged that they must make a claim with their own insurance company. Many accident victims figure that their rates will go up and they will be charged for being in an accident. Many victims are worried that the uninsured driver will get away “Scott Free” and that they should not have to pay for his failure to obtain liability insurance. We understand! However, that is exactly why you have been paying a separate premium for Uninsured Motorist coverage. If you were not at fault for the accident, you will not be charged for an “at-fault” accident merely because you submitted a claim. Also, as will be explained in more detail below, carrying appropriate Uninsured Motorist coverage is an important part of California’s Financial Responsibility Law.
Uninsured motorists will be punished a part from your accident claim. First, the California Department of Motor Vehicles will suspend the driving privileges for an uninsured driver involved in an automobile accident for at least one year. It is vitally important that you immediately report all automobile accidents with the California Department of Motor Vehicles. Our office will do that for you if you are a client. It is not enough to simply report the accident to your own insurance company. The California Department of Motor Vehicles investigates the insurance for all drivers involved in accidents regardless of fault. If they determine that a driver was without liability insurance, that driver’s license is automatically suspended.
Second, if your Uninsured Motorist insurer pays you for an at fault driver who was uninsured, it will seek to recover all of the money paid to you directly from the uninsured driver. This is called “subrogation.” California insurers have become more aggressive and creative than ever in suing and recovering money from uninsured drivers than ever before. The uninsured driver will likely be held accountable for many times the amount of your Uninsured Motorist coverage premium. That is one of the reasons that Uninsured Motorist coverage is relatively inexpensive for the extensive protection it provides.
Third, your own insurance company is more likely to honor and cooperate in evaluating your claim. Not only are you a customer, but there are statutory and common law obligations that require your insurer to act promptly, fairly and in good faith with you. Why does this matter? It matters because claim presentation more often than not goes smoothly. You are given the benefit of the doubt. There can be severe penalties levied against an insurer that fails to deal in “good faith” with its own insured. As a result, uninsured motorist claims are concluded more promptly and with a better financial result than a comparable “third-party” action.