California Uninsured Motorist Coverage: Pay to Sue Your Insurance Company

“In three words I can sum up everything I’ve learned about life: it goes on.”

— Robert Frost

Uninsured Motorist Coverage in California (and most states) is confusing. Let’s understand some general principles.

Note that I’m avoiding discussion of underinsured motorist coverage and related topics.

Caveat: this is a complicated and dreary area of law. Better drink some coffee before proceeding.

General Principles of Uninsured Motorist Coverage in California

Uninsured Motorist Coverage (“UMC”) law is based on statute, namely, Insurance Code sections 11580.2 to 11580.5.

Every California driver should carry UMC. The insurance company must offer it to you. And I recommend you buy it, because its purpose is important.

The purpose is to compensate an injured driver when there’s no liability insurance to cover the driver’s injuries. A classic example is when a driver who hits your car doesn’t have car insurance.

Be aware, however, that UMC does not apply unless you were injured by an “uninsured driver,” which has a specific definition. In most cases, “uninsured driver” simply means someone who doesn’t have insurance. Duh.

The minimum limits of UMC are $15,000 for the injuries of 1 person, $30,000 for the injuries of more than 1 person. That’s known as a split limit policy. You can also get $30,000 of coverage, known as a combined single limit policy.

Named insureds are covered under UMC. And depending on the language of the auto policy, other people may be covered too, like passengers.

Although I don’t go into hit-and-run accidents and “phantom vehicles,” understand that there must be physical contact between your car and the car of an uninsured driver.

And don’t forget this: don’t settle a claim with someone responsible for the accident without first getting permission from your insurance company. If you do, the insurance company may deny your UMC.

Pay to Sue Your Insurance Company

Occasionally people are hesitant to bring a UMC claim because they don’t want to sue their insurance company.

My advice is this: you pay your insurance premiums so you can sue your insurance company if you’re hit by an uninsured driver; otherwise, you can’t recover in a car accident. Insurance companies understand this.

But are you concerned that your insurance company will increase your premiums if you make a UMC? Don’t be. It’s against the law. Read Insurance Code section 491. California law prohibits insurance companies from raising your premiums if you weren’t at fault.

Questions? Contact Me for a free consultation.

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