Even though there are mandatory automobile insurance requirements in Illinois, the limits are often insufficient to cover losses sustained by the victim of an automobile collision. Additionally, there are many negligent drivers who are completely uninsured or have an inadequate amount of insurance coverage. If a driver like that is involved in an accident, it can be challenging for the victim to receive full compensation to cover their losses. Fortunately, there are insurance coverage options that can alleviate the problem. There are benefits to carrying uninsured and underinsured coverage in Illinois on your own automobile policy.
When you purchase full coverage under your vehicle’s insurance policy in Illinois, it includes uninsured/underinsured coverage, which is sometimes referred to as UM or UIM. While the amount of coverage varies, the policy you purchase can actually protect you in the event you’re in a crash with a motorist who does not have insurance or who has inadequate insurance coverage. In addition to that, uninsured and underinsured coverage can also save you from having to pay for a car accident that you didn’t cause. In order to protect yourself, you should discuss the importance of UM or UIM insurance with your insurance agent and make sure that you are carrying high enough UM and UIM insurance limits to protect you in the event you are injured by an uninsured or underinsured driver.
How Uninsured/Underinsured Motorist Coverage Works
When you’re in an accident that wasn’t your fault, you typically file a claim with the at-fault driver’s car insurance company. If you do this with the help of an experienced attorney, you will likely receive compensation for medical bills, lost wages, pain and suffering, and property damage. However, if a driver hits you and doesn’t have insurance or only has state minimum coverage, there may not be sufficient coverage to satisfy the medical bills, lost wages, and property damage or to provide you any compensation for the pain and suffering and loss of a normal life you experience as a result of your injuries. You can be facing the prospect of not satisfying the bills or getting any compensation. That is where your UIM or UM coverage may kick in. That is one of the reasons why Illinois requires full coverage policies to include uninsured/underinsured coverage.
Uninsured coverage protects you if you’re in an accident with a driver who doesn’t carry liability insurance. Underinsured coverage comes into play when the other driver’s liability limits are too low to pay for the damages and you carry limits higher than theirs. Once their policy is exhausted, your policy can potentially cover the rest of your expenses and losses. However, you must get permission from your own insurance company to accept the policy limits from the other driver before proceeding with an underinsured motorist claim. Your insurance company may also require certain proofs in an uninsured or underinsured motorist claim. Additionally, if your insurance policy carries the same limits as the other party, there would be no additional recovery. Again, the importance of carrying sufficient UM or UIM coverage should be discussed with your insurance agent.
There are typically two types of uninsured and underinsured motorist coverage. Bodily injury coverage covers medical expenses, lost wages, and any other injury-related expenses you and your passengers incurred. It may also provide coverage for hit-and-runs if you can prove that the other driver did not have insurance. Property damage coverage steps in to take care of your vehicle repairs.
Understanding Good Faith Duty
While uninsured and underinsured coverage is useful in certain situations, you may have trouble accessing your compensation if the insurance company does not act in good faith. When you sign an automobile insurance policy, you agree to pay your premiums and the insurer agrees to provide you with coverage in the event of an accident. Once you file a claim, they need to fulfill their duty. Unfortunately, there are circumstances where that does not happen. That’s one of the reasons why uninsured and underinsured accident claims are so complex—which is why working with an attorney is in your best interests.
Stacking Provisions in Illinois
In some states, insurance policies can be stacked on top of each other to maximize your compensation. In Illinois, underinsured and uninsured car accidents are generally not eligible for stacking, but there is a law in place that allows you to recover the highest limit applicable. The state recognizes anti-stacking provisions and allows plaintiffs to collect from the policy with the highest limit. If, however, an anti-stacking policy is poorly worded or improperly drafted, it can be interpreted in favor of the injured party, which would allow the plaintiff to recover from multiple policies. Having an attorney evaluate the policy language is important to making sure you are not missing an opportunity to have more coverage apply to your claim.
Maximize Your Compensation
Navigating the complex world of insurance after a car accident can be overwhelming—especially when you’re dealing with injuries, medical appointments, and recovery. If you’ve been involved in a motor vehicle collision, you need to evaluate both the liability insurance coverage available from the at-fault driver as well as whether your own uninsured and underinsured coverage applies to your situation so you can maximize your recovery. Fortunately, our law firm offers legal representation to those looking to seek the compensation they need to get their lives back in order after a crash.
If you’re ready to take control of your future and move past a traffic accident, schedule a free consultation with our firm today. We’ll begin by evaluating your situation and helping you determine how best to proceed. When you work with Schweickert Ganassin Krzak Rundio, LLP, we’ll handle every aspect of your case so you can focus on your recovery. Contact us to learn more.