Every state has an insurance code that tells the insurance company's how much and what kind of insurance coverage they must provide for motorists. Oregon requires that every motorist carry at least $25,000.00 in liability coverage. This is often referred to as the "policy limits." There are other required kinds of coverage, but for our purposes, we will focus on what is called "uninsured motorist" or "underinsured motorist" coverage.
"Uninsured motorist" and "underinsured motorist" coverage is often referred to as "UM" or "UIM" coverage. Typically, the amount of coverage you have on your policy is equal to the amount of coverage you have for liability. So, if you have $25,000.00 coverage for liability, you have the same amount of coverage for uninsured motorist and underinsured motorist claims.
Why is uninsured motorist coverage so important?
Our office has seen many cases where a client is seriously injured in an auto collision, with extensive medical expenses and disability. However, the app fault driver who caused the collision will either have little insurance coverage, or no insurance coverage whatsoever. The only option for our client is there uninsured motorist or underinsured motorist coverage. However, the amount our client can recover to compensate them for their medical expenses, lost income, and loss of their health is limited to the coverage they purchased.
If you purchased a minimal liability policy, then chances are you have only $25,000.00 in uninsured motorist coverage. If you were seriously injured, this insurance coverage may not cover all of your losses, including medical expenses and lost wages. When this happens, we try to work with the insurance companies and medical creditors to reduce outstanding obligations so that our client can make some recovery.
Another problem arises if you are injured by a motorist with minimal liability coverage. You may be able to resolve your claim against the other driver for their minimal policy limits, but your medical expenses, lost income, and other losses may exceed the available policy limits from the responsible driver. You may have an underinsured motorist claim, but only to the extent that your underinsured motorist coverage limits exceed that of the responsible driver. If your UIM limits are the same as the responsible at fault driver, then you do not have an UIM limit.
For these reasons, we always recommend that you review your auto insurance policy to make sure that you have the coverage you need in case you face a serious injury due to somebody else's carelessness.
If you have any questions about this or any other issue regarding an auto injury claim, give us a call at 503-325-8600. We answer these questions all the time, and are happy to talk with you.