Property damage liability coverage pays for the physical damage to the vehicle damaged in the accident by the at-fault driver. Bodily injury liability coverage provides compensation for injuries sustained in a motor vehicle collision. The State of California requires that every owner of a passenger vehicle (car or truck) have at least $25,000.00 in bodily injury liability insurance coverage.
California law requires every automobile owner in California to maintain insurance on their vehicle, many drivers who cause accidents do not have car insurance and are therefore " Uninsured Motorists." In other cases, the driver who caused an accident may be insured but may not have enough coverage to pay for all of the injuries caused in the accident and is "under-insured." We are frequently asked, "What happens to my case if the person who caused the accident is uninsured or doesn't have enough insurance?"
If the at-fault driver doesn't have insurance, or does not have enough insurance, we look to your automobile insurance policy for compensation for injuries and losses. Under California law, insurance companies selling automobile insurance in California are required to sell Uninsured/Underinsured Motorist Insurance as part of every policy sold unless the coverage is specifically refused in writing.
Uninsured or under-insured (UM/UIM) coverage is a separate coverage that provides coverage to you and your passengers if injured in an accident caused by an uninsured or under-insured driver. This coverage "steps into the shoes" of the at-fault driver and pays you the same kind of damages you could have recovered from the at-fault driver's insurance had the driver been insured. Uninsured motorist insurance coverage may be available to pay your claim if any resident in your household owns a car that has Uninsured Motoristcoverage regardless of whether you were occupying the car at the time of the accident. In fact your Uninsured Motoristcoverage will even cover you if you are a Pedestrianhit by an uninsured driver.
Your insurance company would be able to "setoff" or reduce the amount of UM coverage they would have to pay you by the amount of liability insurance available from the at fault driver. Example: Lisa was driving home from work and was hit by Tom after a night out drinking with his buddies. His blood alcohol level was above the legal limit and he was cited for driving under the influence. Lisa was severely injured and spent many months in the hospital and in rehab. She was unable to work during her recovery time and her medical expenses and lost wages totaled $250,000. Tom had insurance but his bodily injury liability policy limit was only $50,000. Lisa had purchased $200,000 in UM/UIM safety net coverage on her own policy, hence, After Tom's insurance company paid Lisa the $50,000 per Tom's policy limits, Lisa's insurance company was then able to deduct or "setoff" that $50,000 from her UM/UIM coverage, leaving her with only an additional $150,000 in coverage. Her total compensation was $200,000 and she was left to pay the remaining $50,000 out of her own pocket.
Call your insurance company today! These new laws were effective on January 1, 2008, and it applies to any policy issued or renewed on or after January 1, 2008. It does not automatically update or retro activate an existing policy. You must notify your insurance company and write a new policy or renew your existing policy.
The new law requires insurance companies to provide consumers with the option of carrying equal limits of UM/UIM as up to the bodily injury liability limits. So, if your liability coverage is $100,000 then you are eligible for $100,000 in UM/UIM coverage.
SAVING MONEY BY DROPPING THE PREMIUMS ON ADDITIONAL CARS IS NOT A GOOD IDEA. Your insurance agent may try to talk you into dropping coverage on additional cars in order to lower your premium. You will save some money, but it also reduces the liability amount your insurance company must pay you if you are involved in an accident. By canceling the additional premiums, you reduce the amount of your safety net.