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Do you know the difference between uninsured and underinsured?

As our readers may be aware, if someone suffers catastrophic injuries in a car accident or passes away due to the injuries suffered in an accident, the victims or the family members may be able to receive compensation from the negligent driver who caused the serious or fatal car accident. This is done by filing a personal injury lawsuit or wrongful death lawsuit against the other driver. But, what happens if the other driver, the driver who caused the accident, is not able to pay compensation because they are not insured or they are underinsured?

Although every driver should have auto liability before they are legally allowed to drive, this is unfortunately not the case. 12.6 percent of motorists were uninsured in 2012, the latest year for which information is available.

Firstly, it is important to understand the difference between uninsured motorist coverage and underinsured motorist coverage. Although often used interchangeably, they are different terms in what they cover. An uninsured motorist policy provides insurance to the driver when an accident is caused by a motorist who either does not have insurance or who has hit and run away from the scene of the accident.

Underinsured motorist policy kicks in when the driver who has caused the accident does have insurance, but is limited to a number below the accident victim's policy. In this instance, the victim's insurer would ideally pay the balance to the victim.

An unexpected accident can cause serious injuries and bring about medical bills that were unexpected. Compensation can help cover that cost. But, dealing with insurance agencies can be frustrating, especially as victims are trying to recuperate from their injuries and agencies are giving them the run-around. Getting the right information may help victims and their loved ones focus on their recovery.

Source: Insurance Information Institute, "Compulsory auto/uninsured motorists," Accessed on Sept. 19, 2016

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