In some states, built into an insurance policy by default is uninsured motorist coverage. Some people do not have it, but it has to be excluded when they buy the policy.
Typically, if you’re injured by someone who does not have insurance, and you don’t have uninsured motorist coverage, it means that that person is going to have to pay you out of his pocket.
Unfortunately, very rarely will someone have the means to pay a verdict or settlement out of their own pocket if they don’t have insurance.
In that case, you can sue the person that caused the damages even if they don’t have insurance, and try to get a judgment and try to collect. Again, it’s rare to collect from someone who doesn’t have insurance. But if you can get a verdict and an award, you can try to go after the person’s wages, or their home if they have one, or any other assets. It’s just that it’s very difficult to do.
On the other hand, if you do have uninsured motorist coverage your own insurance company steps into the picture and acts as if they were the insurance company for the other party.
The good news is your rates don’t go up. If you have uninsured motorist coverage, you can’t be penalized for trying to use the uninsured motorist coverage in case you’re damaged by an uninsured motorist. So you don’t have any concern about your rates going up in these circumstances.
These types of cases are a little different from the regular course of action because in some states (California being one of them) there’s something called “uninsured motorist arbitration” that’s mandatory.
That’s very similar to a court action except it’s not in court. It’s with an arbitrator who acts as a judge and a decision-maker. You’ll still have to present your evidence in much the same way you would before a judge and a jury, but it’s just a little more informal.
It’s done in an office setting. And it’s done with an arbitrator instead of a judge. Also, there are some procedural differences concerning the statute of limitations that an experienced lawyer will know how to address.
There’s also something called “under-insured motorist.” This comes into play when the person who injures you has limited insurance.
The minimum policy that’s required of drivers in California is often called “15/30.”
What “15/30” means is that the insurance company is liable to pay $15,000 per person maximum, up to $30,000 per occurrence. If there are three injured people and they’re all injured equally, each one can get a maximum of $10,000. If there’s one injured person, that person will get a maximum of $15,000.
“Under-insured coverage” comes into play to cover anything in addition over that. For example let’s assume an injured person has his or her own insurance policy that provides coverage of $100,000 per person, up to $300,000 per occurrence. If the person that injured them only has $15,000 in coverage then the injured person can use his own insurance company for the additional $85,000.