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Know your rights with underinsured motorist coverage

Pennsylvania law says that your insurer must offer you insurance, called underinsured motorist (UIM) coverage, in case you are hit by a driver who does not have enough insurance. UIM insurance is part of every auto policy.

You wouldn’t knowingly value your own well-being less than that of a stranger who injures you in an accident. Unfortunately, this happens to many people when selecting underinsured motorist coverage.

    Here is a typical example:
  • You are stopped at a red light and hit from behind.
  • The person who hit you had the minimum Pennsylvania policy of $15,000.
  • You carry $50,000 in coverage for people you injure.
  • You injure your rotator cuff, needing physical therapy, pain injections, and surgery. Your case is worth $100,000 or more.

What happens? The driver who hit you has $15,000. His insurance company says, here you go. Here is $15,000. Have a nice day.

You could turn around and claim on your insurance policy’s $50,000 underinsured motorist coverage if you have it, but not everyone has that amount of UIM coverage. Many time, an insurer will offer you a lower premium to have $50,000 in coverage for hitting other people, but only $15,000 if you are injured by an underinsured driver. It is a cheaper policy if you agree to less underinsured coverage.

Why do they do this? If you are trying to collect UIM coverage, that is a lawsuit against your own insurance company. In effect, if they get you to buy lower UIM coverage, then they are reducing the amount of any claims that they have to pay to you as their insured. Check your declaration page or the statement of coverages. If it says that bodily injury coverage is $50,000 then hopefully, it also says underinsured coverage $50,000. If not, then you gave up your rights. At your next renewal investigate your UIM coverage. If you need your policy reviewed, fax or email it to me. I can give you an answer on what it provides.

Know your rights. Don’t sell them for pennies.

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