As we previously covered in another blog post, many Connecticut residents looking to save money on car insurance unfortunately often skimp on “uninsured motorist coverage,” an absolutely vital insurance policy provision designed to protect drivers from reckless drivers with no auto insurance. Just as important as that coverage, however, is “underinsured motorist coverage.”
Under Connecticut state law, all drivers must carry minimum automobile insurance limits of $20,000 per person and $40,000 per accident. Liability insurance generally covers the accident victim’s medical bills, lost wages, and pain and suffering.
At first, the state minimum policy might sound like a lot of money. Considering that an emergency room bill alone in a serious car wreck could easily exceed five figures, however, it is clear that this amount of coverage is inadequate in serious car accidents. It is therefore vital that all Connecticut drivers protect themselves from being limited to the minimum insurance limits in the event of an auto accident caused by a driver with the state minimum insurance coverage.
Fortunately, Connecticut ordinarily requires that drivers carry “underinsured motorist coverage” (also referred to as “UIM”). As opposed to the liability coverage explained above, which serves to protect others on the roadway from your negligence, this type of coverage protects the policyholder from the negligence of other drivers who do not have enough insurance to pay personal injury claims caused by their negligent driving.
Underinsured motorist coverage (UIM) protects policyholders in the event that the at-fault driver does carry insurance, but the policy limits are inadequate to cover all injury-related losses. Although most Connecticut drivers are insured, those who opt to only carry the minimum amount required by law are undersinsured for serious accidents. Therefore, accident victims who suffer serious personal injuries will often have to rely on this coverage. UIM coverage is also frequently triggered when a number of victims are injured in the same accident. In such a scenario, the minimal $40,000 total occurrence limit has to be split among a number of seriously injured passengers.
In the event that the negligent party’s insurance coverage is inadequate, the UIM coverage will then cover the policyholder (as well as other passengers and some family members) for losses above and beyond those covered by the at-fault party. Therefore, your personal injury attorney would not be limited to the minimal coverage when negotiating a settlement in mediation, and the full damages could be pursued during a trial in front of a jury. Depending on the particular policy, the policy limit for UIM coverage might be reduced for benefits paid by liability insurance.
To make sure that you and your family have adequate insurance, review your policy limits with a car accident attorney to determine what type of coverage you would have in the event of a motor vehicle accident. If you are injured in a motor vehicle accident, contact a personal injury attorney to determine what options for compensation you have based upon your UIM coverage.
-Eamonn Wisneski, Esq.
Disclaimer: While this blog provides general information, it does not constitute legal advice. The best way to get guidance on your specific legal issue is to contact a lawyer. To schedule a meeting with an attorney, please call one of our lawyers at (860) 316-2741. The use of the Internet or this form for communication with the firm or any individual member of the firm does not establish an attorney-client relationship.