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Unfortunately, not all drivers in Arizona have automobile insurance and even more drivers have minimal coverage limits that are insufficient to compensate an accident victim who sustains a serious injury.
Accordingly, you should always purchase uninsured and under insured motorist coverage with your automobile insurance policy with coverage limits of at least $100,000.
Uninsured and under insured coverages are relatively inexpensive and protect you and your family or friends who are occupying your vehicle.
What is Uninsured Motorist Coverage?
Uninsured motorist coverage should be a part of your standard automobile insurance policy. Arizona law requires that insurance companies offer to their insureds uninsured and under insured motorist coverages in the same coverage limits that the insured is purchasing for general liability coverage.
Uninsured motorist coverage protects the injured person if the at-fault driver has no insurance themselves. If a car accident occurs, the person who gets hurt can claim under their own policy when the person who caused the accident has no insurance. Your insurance rates will not increase if you file a claim if you are not at fault for causing the accident.
When drivers do not purchase car insurance, they are likely without sufficient resources to compensate an accident victim. This means that even if the person who is hurt sues the person at fault, no money is available for that injury. The person at fault may be able to discharge in bankruptcy any judgment that the accident victim obtains in court.
What Does Under Insured Mean?
Under insured motorists are more difficult to determine. When an accident happens, these drivers will have insurance but may not have enough coverage under their policy to pay for the costs associated with the accident.
In Arizona, the minimum coverage limits required by law are only $15,000 for any injured person and/or a total limit of $30,000 per accident, regardless of the number of occupants injured.
For example, if the value of a person’s injury claim is $30,000 and the at fault driver purchased only the $15,000 coverage limit required by law, the accident victim can collect the adverse driver’s $15,000 limit and then pursue a claim under his under insured motorist coverage for an additional $15,000.
While it is possible to sue the under insured driver personally, this takes time and you will incur litigation costs. In addition, if a driver cannot afford a policy that will cover all the costs of an accident, the person likely has few assets and once again, the driver may be able to discharge any judgment you obtain via bankruptcy.
Under insured motorist claims are limited to the fair value of the personal injury claim, i.e. a person cannot claim more against their under insured motorist coverage than a victim would be entitled to collect against the at fault driver.
Bad Faith Issues
If you make a claim for uninsured or under insured motorist coverage against your insurance company, your insurer owes you a “duty of good faith and fair dealing.” This is because it is your own insurance company that you have a contract with as opposed to a third-party insurer who you did not purchase insurance from.
If your insurance company is too rigorous or aggressive in its attempt to investigate and/or deny the uninsured or under-insured claim, then the policyholder may have a claim for insurance bad faith.
Hiring A Lawyer
An accident victim may feel that hiring an attorney to work with their own insurance company seems unnecessary. Unfortunately, these kinds of cases often go to arbitration when an insurance company fails to offer a fair amount to settle a claim.
Moreover, insurance companies use sophisticated software to evaluate injury claims. A good personal injury attorney will be familiar with said software and the “value drivers” that will maximize any settlement.
Call Yearin Law Office Today
If someone is injured in a car accident, give Don Yearin at the Yearin Law Office a call at 480-526-9386 for a free consultation.