According to data collected by the Insurance Information Institute, 14% of Texas motorists were uninsured in 2015. While that number is likely to have fluctuated by the time you read this, the fact is that, at any given time, hundreds of thousands of Texas motorists are driving around without insurance. And one of them could crash into you or a loved one.
In such a scenario, what are you to do? It’s unlikely that the uninsured driver will have enough money to pay you out of pocket and you might not have thousands of dollars on hand to pay for car repairs and medical bills, especially if the damage is severe.
Luckily, you can avoid this stressful situation entirely if you purchase something called uninsured motorist (UM) insurance coverage. Our Austin car accident attorneys explain.
What is Uninsured Motorist (UM) Coverage?
Uninsured motorist coverage or UM is an optional type of car insurance that will protect you if you are involved in a crash that was caused by someone who doesn’t have enough funds to pay for your damages.
Situations in which UM applies include:
- You are struck and injured in a hit-and-run, an accident in which the at-fault driver flees the scene
- You are hit by a driver whose insurance policy doesn’t fully cover your damages
- You are involved in a crash caused by a driver who doesn’t have insurance at all
In minor accidents, the minimum liability coverage required by Texas law will probably be enough to cover your accident-related expenses. However, if your accident involved significant damage to your car and/or serious injuries to your person, the minimum coverage isn’t going to cut it. If you want to be certain you will be taken care of no matter what, we highly recommend adding UM to your insurance policy.
Modified Comparative Fault Laws in Texas
Texas is a modified comparative fault state, meaning that the driver or drivers who caused the car accident are held liable for all damages for insurance purposes. It also means that more than one person can be held at fault for an accident. For example, if a motorist speeding through a red light hits another driver making an illegal turn, both will be held partially responsible for the crash.
If you are less than 50% at fault, however, then the other driver or drivers can be held responsible for your financial damages. This is why uninsured motorist coverage is so important—unless you were largely at fault for an accident, you will be going after the other driver’s insurance company to pay for your damages. But since so many Texas drivers only carry the minimum liability coverage, or don’t have insurance at all, driving is much safer with a backup. UM insurance acts as a safety net for those times when what the other driver has to offer simply isn’t enough.