Let’s suppose that other than occasionally speeding up at a yellow light, you’re one of the good guys. You always come to a full stop at stop signs, never exceed the speed limit and yield the right of way. You’d never dream of driving without auto insurance. So what happens when a conscientious citizen like you gets hit by an uninsured driver? The sad truth is that unless you carry a full complement of comprehensive auto insurance, you may be left holding a very big bag of financial woe.
Every state in the union requires drivers to carry some minimum form of liability auto insurance, and you can get slammed with a hefty fine if you’re caught driving without it. Yet millions of American drivers choose to tempt fate and drive without coverage. In 2001, Insurance Research Council estimated that 14% of America’s drivers don’t have auto insurance of any kind. And that was nine years ago! In today’s tough economy, it’s probably much higher. Here’s what you can look forward to.
- If you have comprehensive auto coverage, most insurance companies will pay for the repair of your vehicle (or the replacement cost, if it’s totaled) and any medical bills you have up to the limits of your policy. Some policies will even pay for a rental car while yours is in the shop. Unless you were seriously injured, having to cough up the deductible is your worst case scenario. By the way, unless you have a policy that states otherwise, don’t expect to get compensated for more than the fair market value of your totaled car.
- If you only carry liability insurance, the outlook is much, much worse. You’re going to have to pay for everything except the medical bills covered by your policy. Yes, you could sue the other driver, but good luck with that. He probably doesn’t have car insurance because he doesn’t have any money or property or assets.
- If you had the foresight to get uninsured motorist coverage, you may be able to recover some of the damages from your insurance company. Should you decide to pursue that course, you’d be well advised to consult a very good lawyer with lots of success handling uninsured motorist suits before you file a claim.