This post will wrap up my series on uninsured/underinsured motorist (um/uim) coverage. In Part 1, we talked about the basics of um/uim coverage and buying all that you can afford. In Part 2, we talked about “stacking” coverages and in Part 3, the issue was damages. Today, I want to give you some tips on buying your automobile insurance – specifically, um/uim coverage.
As you know from previous posts, every automobile liability insurance policy sold in this state has to contain at least $20,000 worth of UM/UIM coverage per person and $40,000 per incident. In addition to making sure you do not reject that coverage and that you buy all that you can afford, the following thoughts may be helpful:
- a. Research the companies that you are looking at. There is a wealth of information on the internet. Do not look just at the cost – it does not do a lot of good to buy the cheapest policy out there if that company won’t rightfully pay claims, or provides you with a policy that lacks the features you are looking for. For instance, some companies will exclude punitive damages as a remedy for personal injuries. If that is the case, how much will you save in premiums? Who is a covered driver under this policy? If your son who is off at college covered when he drives your car at Christmas break?
- b. If you can find a policy that fits your needs and is marketed by a local agent – all the better. Having an identifiable person or agency to call when a claim arises can be very helpful. Insurance agents can be investigated on the internet just like insurance policies can. Moreover, you should be able to talk to other folks about their experience with that particular agent or agency. The best person to talk to, of course, would be an insured who submitted a substantial claim.
- – Was the local agent helpful and was the claim processed quickly?
- – Will the prospective agent take the time to answer all the questions you have about the product that you are buying?
- – When you ask about UM/UIM coverage, does the agent advise you to buy all that you can afford, or just move on to the next subject?
- You want to buy insurance from someone who is looking to help you not just when it’s time to collect a premium. While your local agent does not make claims decisions, he or she can be quite helpful during the claims process.
- Finally, I want to repeat something I said in Part 1 of this series – do not be hesitate to file a claim if you are injured by an uninsured, or underinsured, driver. You have paid for this coverage and filing a claim will not raise your rates. The chance of you being involved in a collision with an uninsured driver is one in four in this state and, with these economic times, will only get worse. Drive safe and drive defensively.
Cum Laude graduate of Cumberland School of Law, Pet Mackey is a civil trial litigation expert who represents plaintiffs in business and consumer tort, contracts and construction, employment disputes and insurance. He is board certified as a Civil Trial Advocate by the National Board of Trial Advocacy, a Certified Alabama Mediator, and an “AV” rated lawyer by Martindale-Hubbell.