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Uninsured/Underinsured Motorist

What is Uninsured/Underinsured Motorist Coverage and Why Does it Matter to Me?

How many times have we wondered what “UM/UIM” insurance is when purchasing insurance for our cars, trucks or motorcycles? Is it something important, or is it just a scheme from the insurance companies to raise our premiums without providing to us any real benefit? These are legitimate questions, and at Cook, Bradford & Levy, LLC we are experienced Louisville CO car accident attorneys who understand both the importance of UM/UIM coverage and why it is critical to have this type of coverage.

What is “UM” and “UIM”?

“UM” stands for “Uninsured Motorist” coverage, and “UIM” is short for “Underinsured Motorist” coverage. These two types of coverage are related, but they each address different scenarios after a car accident. An experienced Louisville, CO car accident attorney can explain the subtle differences to you.

Uninsured Motorist Coverage/UM

All drivers on Colorado's roads are required to have automobile insurance in the event they are at fault for a collision. Despite this requirement, however, many drivers get behind the wheel with no insurance whatsoever. This is why UM – uninsured motorist coverage – is important. UM coverage goes into effect when we have been in a car accident with someone who has no insurance. If you have the foresight to buy UM coverage, Colorado law requires that your insurance company stand in the shoes of the person who caused the crash and fully compensate you for your damages as if the at fault driver was insured. The only limit on your recovery of UM benefits is the maximum limit of coverage you have purchased. An experienced Louisville, CO car accident attorney can help you determine the role UM coverage will play in your case.

As a simple illustration, if you have suffered damages in a crash caused by someone with no insurance, your UM policy must fully compensate for your damages up to $25,000.00 if you have purchased $25,000.00 in UM coverage, up to $100,000.00 if you have purchased $100,000.00 in UM coverage, up to $1 million in damages if you have purchased $1 million in UM coverage, and so on. You can see that the more UM coverage you have, the more you are protected against bad drivers without insurance. A larger amount of UM coverage is especially important if you have a family. If you have been in a car accident with someone who does not have automobile insurance, we encourage you to contact an experienced Louisville, CO car accident attorney.

Underinsured Motorist Coverage/UIM

UIM coverage, short for Uninsured Motorist coverage, is similar to UM coverage except that it applies when you have been injured by a driver who does not have enough insurance to compensate you for your damages.

Colorado law requires that all drivers carry at least $25,000.00/$50,000.00 in liability insurance in case they injure someone in a car accident. This means that the most you can recover under Colorado’s minimum requirements is $25,000.00 per person. If more than one person has been injured in a crash covered by a minimum policy, then everyone making a claim against the bad driver must divide $50,000.00 amongst themselves, with no one person receiving more than $25,000.00. In many cases this amount is simply inadequate to ensure that everyone gets fully and fairly compensated after a car wreck.

Although Colorado’s minimum limits may be enough for “small” accidents, with the rising costs of medical care an experienced Louisville CO car accident attorney knows that car crash damages frequently exceed $25,000.00 in medical expenses alone. For example, it is not uncommon for a victim who has received Emergency Room services to get a bill in the five-figures, especially where advanced imaging such as MRIs and CT scans has been used by doctors to rule out or identify acute injury. Where a victim has been seriously injured, ER services and trauma-care alone can reach six-figures. Certainly, many drivers have more than the Colorado minimum $25K/$50K limits of liability coverage, but we have no way of knowing if the person who would injure us in a car crash has enough insurance to cover our damages. An experienced Louisville, CO car accident attorney knows that a fantastic way to protect ourselves from drivers without enough insurance – who are underinsured – is to make sure that we have UIM coverage.

Here’s an illustration of how UIM coverage works. If your damages from a car crash are $150,000.00, but the at fault driver only has $25,000.00 in liability coverage, the at fault driver is underinsured by $125,000.00 ($150,000.00 damages - $25,000.00 liability coverage = underinsured by $125,000.00). This means that if you have UIM coverage, your insurance company must stand in the shoes of the bad driver and fully compensate you for your damages up to the amount of your UIM policy limits. In this example, since the at fault driver is underinsured by $125,000.00, if you have $50,000.00 in UIM coverage, your carrier must compensate you the full amount of your $50,000.00 UIM policy. If you have $100,000.00 in UIM coverage, your carrier also must compensate you the full amount of your $100,000.00 UIM policy. However, if you have $250,000.00 in UIM coverage, then your UIM carrier must compensate you only the $125,000.00 it was determined the at fault driver was underinsured. As with UM coverage, the more UIM coverage you have on your policy, the more you are protected against drivers who are underinsured or do not have enough insurance. UIM coverage is essential, and especially so for those who have families who can suffer if you are seriously injured in a crash without enough coverage.

Your Louisville, CO UM/UIM Car Accident Attorneys

At Cook, Bradford & Levy, LLC we are experienced Louisville, CO car accident attorneys who know the nuances of UM and UIM law. For example, we know that Colorado law prohibits a UM/UIM carrier from raising your insurance rates if you have been in an accident that is not your fault and you need to use your UM/UIM benefits. In other words, your UM/UIM carrier cannot penalize you for using your UM/UIM benefits.

If you have questions about UM/UIM coverage we encourage you to call Cook, Bradford & Levy, LLC, at 303-543-1000 for a free consultation. We are experienced Louisville, CO car accident attorneys who can help.