If I’ve been in an auto accident and the other driver was at fault, is my insurance company responsible for damages in excess of the other driver’s policy limits?
Yes. If you purchased uninsured and underinsured motorists’ coverage (UIM), then you are entitled to those coverages. That is, if the other driver was underinsured or uninsured, you purchase coverage to take into account those instances.
You can file a claim with the other driver’s insurance company and their insurance company should pay to the limit. Then you go to your own insurance company for the rest.
In Nevada we have a statute called a “Must Offer,” which says that insurance agents must offer uninsured and underinsured motorists’ coverage at least equal to the bodily injury limits.
In Nevada, for instance, the minimum limits are $25,000 per individual/$50,000 per accident. So, they have to offer you at least $25,000 in UIM, so it matches your bodily injury limit. Buyers of car insurance can reject it, though.
Unfortunately, I see this all too often, where individuals reject or don’t purchase uninsured motorists’ coverage. If you’re in an accident with an underinsured or uninsured vehicle, and you don’t have UIM coverage, you’re out of luck.
How often is it that you find people buying only the minimum insurance coverage?
Based on my experience, I think that a majority of Nevadans are driving with the minimum $25,000/$50,000 limits, which is inadequate given the cost of medical treatment. The ambulance ride, alone, coming into the trauma hospital in town, is going to almost consume the entirety of the $25,000.
Should I purchase as much uninsured motorists’ coverage as I can afford?
Absolutely. You have no control over who is going to hit you and what they do. The only thing you have control over is what kind of insurance you have, and that is why underinsured/uninsured motorists’ coverage is so important.