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Robert Mansour: The most important insurance coverage

It's The Law

Posted: August 12, 2010 6:13 p.m.
Updated: August 13, 2010 4:55 a.m.

When it comes to proper insurance coverage, there is one coverage that you really should not go without — “uninsured-motorist” coverage. Uninsured motorist coverage is perhaps the most important insurance you can have on your car-insurance policy.

As an attorney who handles personal-injury cases, I’ve really come to appreciate the importance of uninsured motorist coverage.

Uninsured-motorist (UM) coverage protects you in the event the party at fault did not have insurance at the time of the collision. It is perhaps the most critical piece of insurance, and most people ignore it. The ugly reality is that many people driving out there do not have any insurance at all.

Also, in these economic times, many have chosen to view insurance as a discretionary item, even though California law mandates basic liability coverage. Some folks simply forget to pay their premium, and their insurance lapses. Therefore, if you are injured in an accident, your insurance company will compensate you for your medical bills, pain and suffering if the other party had no insurance. Otherwise, you may have nowhere else to turn.

However, even if the other party has liability insurance, many times it is inadequate.

In that case, most U.M. Coverage policies also include something called underinsured motorist (UIM) coverage. Did you notice that? It says “under-insured.” This coverage will cover you if the other party’s insurance was inadequate. That happens more often than you might think, given that the bare minimum people need to get is $15,000 in liability insurance.

There are so many people out there with the bare minimum, and that will not be enough if you have a serious injury. You may end up with nothing at all.

Most people I talk to don’t really know if they have UM/UIM coverage on their policies. Some folks think their insurance company is trying to “upsell” them into something they don’t need. I explain to them that in this day and age, UM/UIM coverage is very important. Also, your insurance company is more likely to be generous and fair with you in most cases, because they owe you a fiduciary duty. The other party’s insurance company doesn’t owe you the same duty. Heck, they may not even return your phone calls.

Take a look at your policy’s “declaration page,” and see if you have it or not. Better yet, call your insurance professional.

How much UM/UIM coverage should you get? Consult with your insurance professional, but in my opinion, get as much as you can without breaking the bank. You may also want to explore an umbrella policy as well. If you or someone you know is involved in a serious accident, please consult an experienced attorney to get an opinion and act quickly because everything you do post-accident can be critical.

Remember that no one is going to warn you that an collision is about to occur. You must be prepared. Unfortunately, with so many people driving without insurance (or with very little), you have to be extra prepared.

If you have an accident in the Santa Clarita area, please consult with my office or any experienced attorney for advice regarding your claim.

Robert Mansour’s column reflects his own views and not necessarily those of The Signal. “It’s The Law” appears Fridays and rotates between members of the Santa Clarita Valley Bar Association. Nothing contained herein shall be or is intended to be construed as providing legal advice.


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