Underinsured Motorist Insurance
Washington State ascribes to an at-fault system of insurance, meaning that the person who caused the accident is expected to pay for all of the harms and losses that result from the accident. Because most drivers don’t have several thousand dollars lying around to pay for damages, Washington requires that drivers purchase liability insurance.
In Washington, drivers are required to have an insurance policy that will cover the cost of paying for the harms that driver might cause if the driver is found to be at fault in a collision. This insurance policy must cover, at a per-accident minimum, $25,000 per person, $50,000 in total accident injuries, and $10,000 in property damage.
Unfortunately, the value of your harms and losses in an accident might exceed those minimums. If the at-fault driver’s insurance is not enough to fully compensate you for your total harms and losses – or, worse, if the at-fault driver doesn’t even have insurance – you have a few options. If the at-fault driver has personal wealth sufficient to fully compensate you, you may be able to successfully sue the driver and collect fair compensation. If, however, the at-fault driver doesn’t have the funds to cover your harms and losses, you may want to be able to rely on your own insurance coverage.
Underinsured Motorist Coverage is designed to cover your damages when the other driver has no insurance at all or if the other driver has insurance, but does not have high enough insurance limits to fully compensate you for all of the harms and losses caused by the other driver’s choice to disregard the driving safety rules.
Underinsured Motorist Coverage is available to all Washington drivers. In fact, our laws require that every driver who purchases auto insurance be given the option to buy this combination of important additional insurance protection. Under the law, the dollar amount of your underinsured motorist coverage must be the same as your liability insurance coverage unless you have either declined this coverage in writing or you have agreed, in writing, to accept a lower amount of underinsured motorist coverage. If you don’t remember signing an underinsured insurance coverage waiver or accepting, in writing, a lower coverage limit than you have for liability insurance (or making that kind of election when you made an online insurance application), you probably have underinsured motorist coverage. If your insurance policy doesn’t include underinsured motorist coverage for you and your insurance company can’t produce your signed waiver, they are required to retroactively add it into your policy, in the same amount as your liability coverage, whether or not you’ve been paying for it.
Underinsured motorist coverage will compensate you for both damage to your car and for personal injuries. In Washington, underinsured motorist coverage is what is called a “floating layer” type of insurance and it will be added on top of any insurance the at-fault driver may have available to compensate you for your harms and losses. If you are injured and if the other driver does not have enough insurance to fully compensate you for your harms and losses from an automobile collision, before you settle with the at-fault driver you should contact an experienced injury attorney to make sure your rights are preserved under your underinsured motorist coverage.
At Duce Bastian Peterson, we fight daily to get our clients the insurance payout they deserve, to the limits of all available policies. If you’ve been injured in an accident, contact us today for a free consultation.