Woodland Hills Personal injury attorney Barry P. Goldberg often answers the question “How do I Pay for Damage to my Car after being hit by an Uninsured Motorist?” Why? Because huge numbers of California drivers are uninsured and cause major damage on our roadways. The Automobile Club of Southern California estimates that almost 15% of all drivers in California are Uninsured! This translates to somewhere between 2 and 4 million drivers without insurance in California!
In every accident, there is a significant probability that at least one participant will not carry valid liability insurance. The most immediate impact of this disparity is that the non-at-fault driver could be left with no remedy, no car, no repairs and no substitute vehicle. Most victims are outraged and use terms like “unfair” and “I should not have to pay!” In fact, most accident victims are not in a position to immediately spend thousands of dollars on repairs, rental cars or new cars. What can you do?
Collision Coverage applies in the Uninsured Motorist situation.
The most straight-forward solution to the “uninsured” property damage dilemma is to carry Collision Coverage. While Collision Coverage can be pricey, it may be a best bet. Many California insureds drop Collision Coverage (often at the suggestion of their own insurance agent!) in order to reduce insurance costs. There was an outdated rule that you should drop Collision Coverage once your car is more than a few years old because it does not make sense to pay a high premium when your car is not that valuable.
Unfortunately, it is becoming more and more difficult to equitably replace a “transportation vehicle” in relatively good working order. Even if your “transportation vehicle” has a market value of $3,500, it is difficult to find a replacement vehicle for that vehicle. Often, you would simply be buying someone else’s headache. Adequate repairs may run additional thousands of dollars simply to have the car in reliable working order.
Before dropping Collision Coverage, try raising the deductible as high as possible. That way, the worst case scenario is that you may be out a thousand dollars. But, you will be able to replace or repair your car.
Maybe an “Uninsured Motorist Collision Deductible Waiver” is right for you!
Most California automobile insurers offer an “Uninsured Motorist Collision Deductible Waiver.” Most insureds do not purchase this very inexpensive option because it is somewhat hard to explain and the insurance agents seem to both not understand it and try to keep the overall price as low as possible.
If you opt for “Collision Coverage” (especially with a high deductible), for a few extra dollars you are truly “fully covered.” Essentially, what it means is that you do not have to pay your collision deductible if you are hit by an uninsured driver. Remember, there is a very fair chance that if you are in an accident, at least one of the vehicles will not have liability coverage to pay for your property damages.
Literally, the cost of the Uninsured Motorist Deductible Waiver is around $20 for the whole policy period. For the price of a few cups of expensive coffee, you can rest easy.
I love “Uninsured Motorist Collision Coverage” or “UMPD!”
For those good drivers that opt not to purchase traditional Collision Coverage, you should definitely purchase Uninsured Motorist Collision Coverage” or “UMPD.” Again, this coverage is very reasonably priced and available only to those who do not purchase traditional Collision Coverage.
If you have UMPD and you are in an accident where an uninsured driver is at fault, your insurer will pay for repairs (or total loss) up to $3,500. It should be noted that when this coverage became available, most cars on the road could be repaired or replaced for $3,500. This is no longer true. However, with $3,500 a transportation vehicle could be obtained and a significant amount of repairs could be made. This inexpensive coverage could at least get you back on the road and back work quickly.
There is a big caveat, however. UMPD applies only when the uninsured driver is at fault. It does not apply if you caused the accident regardless of whether the other party has insurance, or not. So, if you can “guarantee” that you will never be at fault for an accident, then, UMPD might be right for you.
If you are unsure what coverage is right for you, talk to an experienced insurance agent. If you have been in an accident with an Uninsured Motorist, we recommend that you consult with an experienced personal injury attorney with a solid background and understanding of insurance coverage.