Underinsured Motorist Coverage: Check Your Policy!
We have written before on the importance of meeting with your insurance agent periodically to audit your insurance coverage, particularly with respect to your automobile coverage. It makes no sense whatsoever in today’s environment to be out on the road without at least $1 million in coverage, both with respect to your liability limits and with respect to your underinsured motorist coverage (available coverage in the event that the other driver who causes your injury does not have adequate coverage).
Recently we were asked to address this issue again in a local magazine publication, Environments. A copy of that article is inserted below. Please contact our office if you have any concerns or if you wish to discuss this further. Unfortunately, we commonly see that many of our clients were not sufficiently insured, but it is too late after the claim arises to do anything about it.
When we are helping individuals and families who have suffered from an injury in a motor vehicle collision, we often see a lack of sufficient underinsured/uninsured motor vehicle coverage on the injured party’s policy.
Illinois Auto Insurance Laws
As you may know, Illinois only requires drivers out on the road to carry $20,000 minimum liability coverage or $40,000 per incident. This is a “drop in the bucket,” in that medical expenses in a catastrophic injury case can easily surpass $100,000. If the patient is required to stay more than a couple of days in the hospital and undergo extensive tests or treatment, medical expenses can add up.
For decades, the “standard policy” issued by many insurance companies provides what is known as 100/300 coverage: $100,000 per person and $300,000 per incident. This means that if your insurance policy includes coverage for underinsured motorists of $100,000 per person and $300,000 per incident, you will only have that extent of coverage in the event that the other driver is underinsured or uninsured.
Anyone who has ever been involved in an incident involving significant injury knows that this is simply not enough coverage. Before 1980, insurance companies were not required to offer underinsured motor vehicle coverage on their policies. This is now required. However, nearly every insurance company that provides policies in Illinois includes an “anti-stacking” provision in its contractual language.
What is Stacked Insurance?
This means that you cannot “stack” the extent of your underinsured coverage on top of the existing coverage from the responsible/ liable driver. For instance, if someone causes injury or death by negligently operating his or her vehicle, the insurance company looks at the circumstances. If the responsible driver carries $100,000 in liability coverage, and the automobile which was struck carries $100,000 in underinsured coverage, an injured individual will not be able to recover a total of $200,000.
How Much Car Insurance Do I Need in Illinois?
We strongly recommend to our clients that they sit down and conduct an audit of their coverage with their insurance agent.
- Is there enough in bodily injury (BI) coverage?
- Is there enough in underinsured/uninsured (UIM/UM) coverage?
We strongly suggest that everyone carry at least an underlying policy with 250/500 coverage ($250,000 per person, $500,000 per incident), together with some type of “umbrella coverage.”
Do I Need Umbrella Insurance?
Most insurance companies will offer you an umbrella policy, and we recommend consideration of at least $1,000,000 in “umbrella coverage.” Typically, umbrella coverage on top of the underlying policy provides this extensive additional coverage in the event that either someone operating your vehicle causes substantial or serious injury or loss, or you are struck by another driver who does not have enough coverage to meet your damages and losses.
Conducting an audit of your coverage could save you from the unfortunate realization that your losses or harms will not be compensated for. If you have been in a car accident and would like help ensuring you receive the compensation you deserve, contact Turner & Sackett Law Offices today for a free initial consultation!