Uninsured / Underinsured Motorist Coverage

In California, the law requires you to have Uninsured / Underinsured Motorist coverage as part of the state’s mandatory Liability Insurance Coverage.  

Uninsured/Underinsured Motorist Coverage is intended to cover accidents when the other driver is at fault and does not have insurance or does not have enough insurance.

The problems caused by the failure of some motorists to have adequate insurance, or any insurance at all, are compounded when there is a car accident, caused by the Uninsured or Underinsured motorist causes serious injuries to the other drivers and passengers involved. Personal Injury Lawyers, are experianced with such cases and are always looking for the best solotin for such damages.

The standard amount of Uninsured / Underinsured Motorist coverage is $15,000 / $30,000 because the mandatory, minimum amount of Liability Insurance required by the State of California is $15,000 / $30,000 which means $15,000 per person per accident, and a total of $30,000 for any injuries caused by the accident, no matter how many individuals were involved.

But California law does not make Uninsured / Underinsured Motorist coverage mandatory.  It is simply a very smart way to play it safe.

Personal Injury Lawyer

California’s Low Cost Automobile Insurance Program (“CLCA”)

But what if you cannot afford standard auto insurance?  After all, auto insurance is prohibitively expensive for some.  For that reason, the California legislature enacted a law entitled “California’s Low Cost Automobile Insurance Program (“CLCA”).  If you have a low income, it can be difficult to pay the premiums, and CLCA helps income-eligible, but good drivers get insurance.  The premium for CLCA coverage is generally under $400 per year, depending on where you live.

CLCA Liability Limits Are Lower Than Usually Required By California

The liability limits for the CLCA program are lower than the limits usually required by the State of California. But these limits do satisfy state financial responsibility laws. The limits are: $10,000 bodily injury or death per person; $20,000 bodily injury or death per accident; and $3,000 property damage per accident.

In order to qualify for CLCA:  (1) your annual income must be 250% or less of the federal poverty level; (2) your car must be worth $25,000 or less; (3) you must be at least 19 years old; and you must have been continuously licensed to drive for at least three (3) years.  If there is a single male driver in the household who is 19 to 24 years old, the premium is higher.  There are seven (7) distinct payment plans available. There is no broker's fee.

Supplementary Underinsured and Uninsured Motorist (“SUM”) Liability

SUM is additional liability insurance that an insurance policyholder may purchase to protect him or herself from persons who choose to have low liability limits or whose policy is allowed to be cancelled.  If the insured obtains a judgment against the person who caused an accident, the insured’s insurance company will pay the difference between the SUM limit and the amount of insurance that the other person had in effect at the time of the accident claim.

Large Percentage of California Motorists Do Not Have Insurance

Although the media do not emphasize the point, a surprisingly large percentage of California motorists do not have automobile insurance, a surprisingly large percentage of those motorists are involved in auto accidents every year, and even worse still, a surprisingly high number of those motorists get involved in “hit-and-run” accidents, abandoning the car for several reasons, one of which is not to be identified as someone driving uninsured, or underinsured.

Always Remain At Scene Of “Hit-and-Run” Accident

If you are ever involved in a hit-and-run accident, you should always remain at the scene of the collision. You should not chase the other motorist, since this will endanger both you and possibly innocent bystanders as well.  However, it certainly is a good idea, if you have a cell phone handy, to snap a photo of the license plate of the “hit-and-run” driver, as he or she speeds away.

Just so you know, in California, any driver who fails to fulfill his or her legal duties after being involved in an accident can receive a traffic ticket, at a very minimum.  In some cases, especially when an accident causes injury or even death, a driver who leaves the scene of an accident can be subject to serious criminal charges, such as “felony hit and run.”  Of course, there is a middle ground, where there may be injuries, but none serious, and that is “misdemeanor hit and run.”

But what do you do if you accidentally, gently “tap” the bumper of the car in front of you, and you both stop, but it is obvious that there is no damage whatsoever to either vehicle.  Nevertheless, the other driver says, well, I still really need for us to exchange driver and insurance information. Now what should you do?  After considerable research and reading on this subject, it just is not clear … sorry!


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