WHAT ARE UM, UIM, AND PIP INSURANCE COVERAGE?

Many Texas motorists buy only the minimum state-required car insurance coverage, believing it’s a good way to cut costs.However, these basic plans often exclude critical components such as uninsured motorist (UM) coverage, underinsured motorist (UIM) coverage, and personal injury protection (PIP), exposing drivers to severe financial hardship in the event of an accident.

Let’s examine why the savviest drivers opt for UM, UIM, and PIP insurance coverage.

UNINSURED MOTORIST (UM) COVERAGE

Uninsured motorist coverage (UM insurance coverage) is a policy that protects individuals involved in accidents with drivers who do not have insurance.

WHAT DOES UM COVERAGE COVER?

UM coverage helps cover the costs of injuries and damages from an accident involving an uninsured driver. Here’s what it may include:

  • Medical expenses: Uninsured motorist bodily injury (UMBI) coverage helps pay for medical expenses related to injuries suffered in an accident caused by an uninsured driver. This can include hospital bills, doctor visits, surgeries, rehabilitation, and other essential medical treatments.
  • Lost wages: UM coverage may compensate you for lost wages if you cannot work due to injuries from an accident caused by an uninsured driver. This coverage helps offset the income you would have earned during your recovery period.
  • Pain and suffering: Uninsured motorist coverage may compensate for pain, suffering, and emotional distress resulting from the accident and injuries. These damages are typically subjective and vary depending on the severity of the injuries and their impact on one’s life.
  • Property damage: Some UM policies include uninsured motorist property damage (UMPD) coverage. UMPD covers repairing or replacing your vehicle or other property damaged in an accident caused by an uninsured driver.

If you’re considering UM insurance coverage, carefully review the terms and limits, as these vary by policy and local laws. If you don’t fully understand your coverage, ask your insurer for clarification.

IS UNINSURED MOTORIST COVERAGE REQUIRED IN TEXAS?

UM coverage is not legally required in Texas. However, Texas law does require auto insurance companies to offer UM coverage to policyholders. When purchasing auto insurance in Texas, the insurance company must provide the option to purchase UM coverage. If you choose not to purchase it, you must sign a written rejection form.

The purpose of offering UM coverage in Texas is to give drivers the opportunity to protect themselves in the event of an accident with an uninsured or underinsured motorist. Although it is not mandatory, many drivers end up needing UM coverage. It’s vital for helping to keep your vehicle running, which might be crucial for commuting to work, dropping your children at school, or completing essential tasks like grocery shopping or visiting your doctor. 

Having a functional vehicle is especially crucial if you live in a part of town that does not have reliable public transportation. Not having access to your car could significantly undermine your quality of life. Given its benefits, getting UM coverage is a smart move.

UNDER-INSURED MOTORIST (UIM) COVERAGE

Underinsured motorist (UIM) insurance coverage steps in when you’re in a car accident with an at-fault driver whose liability limits are too low to cover the damage or medical expenses.

WHAT DOES UIM COVERAGE COVER?

UIM coverage helps bridge the gap between the at-fault driver’s insurance coverage and the actual costs incurred due to the accident. Here’s what underinsured motorist coverage typically does:

  • Medical expenses: Underinsured motorist bodily injury (UIMBI) coverage helps pay for medical expenses resulting from injuries sustained in an accident caused by an underinsured driver. If the at-fault driver’s insurance policy does not have enough coverage to fully compensate you for your medical costs, UIM insurance coverage can cover the remaining expenses.
  • Lost wages: UIM coverage may compensate for lost wages if you cannot work due to injuries suffered in an accident caused by an underinsured driver. If the at-fault driver’s insurance coverage is insufficient to cover your lost income, UIM coverage can help make up the difference.
  • Pain and suffering: Underinsured motorist coverage may also compensate for pain, suffering, and emotional distress resulting from the accident and the injuries. These damages are typically subjective and can vary based on the severity of the injuries and their impact on your life.
  • Property damage: Some UIM policies include underinsured motorist property damage (UIMPD) coverage. UIMPD covers the cost of repairing or replacing your vehicle or other property damaged in an accident caused by an underinsured driver when their insurance coverage is insufficient.

The specific details and coverage limits of underinsured motorist coverage can vary depending on your insurance policy and the laws of your jurisdiction. It is important to review your policy and consult with an insurance professional or agent to understand the specific terms and conditions of your UIM coverage.

CAN I CLAIM UM COVERAGE IF THE OTHER DRIVER FLEES THE SCENE?

Yes, you can claim UM insurance coverage in Texas if the other driver flees the scene of an accident. In Texas, this coverage protects drivers against uninsured motorists in a hit-and-run accident where the at-fault driver cannot be identified. It can help pay for repairs to your vehicle and medical expenses resulting from the accident. Considering that the other party is not available to cover these costs, UM insurance acts as your safety net, ensuring you’re not left financially burdened. 

HOW DO I PROVE THE OTHER DRIVER WAS UNDERINSURED?

To prove that another driver was underinsured in an accident in Texas and thereby claim UIM insurance coverage, you must first establish the extent of your damages and then compare them to the coverage the other driver’s insurance provides. Here’s how you can do this:

  1. Gather Evidence: Collect all pertinent documents and evidence from the accident scene. This includes police reports, which might indicate the other driver’s insurance status and any contact information they provided.
  2. Document Damages: Obtain estimates for vehicle repairs and medical bills if there were injuries. This documentation will outline the total costs incurred because of the accident.
  3. Check Insurance Policies: Review the at-fault driver’s insurance policy limits through their insurance company. You may need assistance from your insurer or lawyer to access this information.
  4. File a Claim: Submit the claim with your insurance provider. Provide all the documentation and evidence you collected. Your insurer will review these documents to determine if the other driver’s policy cannot cover your documented damages.
  5. Insurance Assessment: If your damages exceed the other driver’s policy limits, your insurer will use this evidence to process your UIM insurance coverage claim.

CAN I STACK UM OR UIM COVERAGE IN TEXAS?

Stacking uninsured or underinsured motorist (UM/UIM) insurance coverage is permissible under specific conditions in Texas. This practice allows you to combine the UM/UIM limits of multiple policies you hold, potentially increasing the total amount of coverage available if an accident occurs with an uninsured or underinsured driver. For instance, if you have two vehicles on separate policies, each with UM/UIM coverage, you can combine these limits to cover damages exceeding the limit of one policy alone. 

However, you must verify with your insurance provider, as policy terms regarding stacking can vary. Additionally, consulting with an insurance professional or attorney can clarify how to utilize stacked coverage under Texas law to get maximum protection for yourself and your assets.

WHAT IS THE STATUTE OF LIMITATIONS FOR UM OR UIM CLAIMS?

The statute of limitations determines how long you are able to start legal action after an alleged offense. In Texas, you have four years from the date of your car accident to file a UM/UIM claim. This statute of limitations is the same as the general limit for personal injury claims in the state, ensuring that you have adequate time to discover any injuries and negotiate with insurers before resorting to legal action to secure compensation.

WHAT CAN YOU DO IF YOUR UM OR UIM CLAIM IS DENIED?

Some insurance companies will find many reasons—legitimate or not—to refuse your claim. If your insurance denies your UM or UIM claim, take these steps:

  1. Review the Denial: Read the letter carefully to understand the reason for the denial. Insurers must provide a clear explanation for their decision.
  2. Check Your Policy: Confirm that your policy includes UM/UIM coverage and that your claim falls within the policy terms.
  3. Gather Documentation: Compile all related documents, such as accident reports, medical records, and any correspondence with the insurance company.
  4. Appeal the Decision: File a formal appeal with your insurance provider. Outline why you believe the claim should qualify for coverage and include any additional evidence to support your case.
  5. Seek Legal Advice: Consult with a lawyer who specializes in insurance law. An attorney can offer guidance, help you through the appeals process, or help you take legal action against the insurer.
  6. Contact Your State’s Insurance Department: If the issue isn’t resolved, file a complaint with the Texas Department of Insurance. They can investigate the matter and ensure that your rights are protected.

PERSONAL INJURY PROTECTION (PIP) COVERAGE

PIP coverage is an extension of car insurance that covers medical expenses and, in some cases, lost wages. It is often called “no-fault” coverage because its inherent comprehensiveness pays out claims regardless of who is at fault in the accident.

WHAT DOES PIP COVERAGE COVER?

PIP insurance coverage is available in certain states, and its specific details can vary depending on the jurisdiction and policy. Here’s what personal injury protection coverage typically does:

  • Medical expenses: PIP coverage helps cover expenses related to injuries from a car accident, including hospital bills, doctor visits, surgeries, medications, rehabilitation, and other necessary treatments. Depending on the policy, PIP coverage may have specific limits and deductibles.
  • Lost wages: If you cannot work due to injuries you suffered in a car accident, PIP insurance coverage can compensate for some of your lost wages. This can help you maintain financial stability while recovering from your injuries.
  • Funeral expenses: In the unfortunate event of a fatal accident, PIP coverage may also help cover funeral and burial expenses.
  • Essential services: PIP coverage may include reimbursement for necessary services you cannot perform due to injuries. This includes household chores, child care, or other essential services required during recovery.
  • Passenger coverage: PIP coverage often extends to passengers in your vehicle, providing them with similar benefits for medical expenses and lost wages resulting from the accident.

It’s important to note that PIP coverage is subject to specific limits and requirements set by state laws and individual insurance policies. The availability and specific details of PIP coverage depend on the jurisdiction in which the policy is issued.

WHAT IS THE MINIMUM REQUIRED AUTO INSURANCE COVERAGE IN TEXAS?

Texas’s minimum required auto insurance coverage is often called “30/60/25” coverage. This means that drivers must carry at least the following liability coverage limits:

  • Bodily Injury Liability Coverage Per Person: This covers injuries or death to another person in an accident where you are at fault. The maximum your insurance company will pay for an individual injured in the accident is $30,000.
  • Bodily Injury Liability Coverage Per Accident: This covers the total bodily injuries or deaths per accident when multiple people are injured or killed. The most your insurance company will pay for all injured parties combined is $60,000.
  • Property Damage Liability Coverage:This covers the damage you cause to another person’s property, such as their vehicle or any other damaged property, in an accident where you are at fault.

It’s important to note that these are the minimum required liability coverage limits set by Texas law. However, we highly recommend considering higher coverage limits to provide better protection and ensure adequate protection in the event of an accident. Also, liability coverage only protects those involved in an accident you caused, not your own injuries or property damage.

DO I NEED UM, UIM, AND PIP INSURANCE COVERAGE IN TEXAS?

The right insurance can make all the difference in how much you have to pay after an auto accident and influence how your claim is handled. Texas only requires drivers to have liability insurance coverage, which helps the other person in the event of an accident. Liability coverage protects you from the risk of liabilities by lawsuits or other claims from other parties, but it doesn’t fully cover you.

Liability insurance does not include collision or comprehensive coverage to fix your car, towing, rental cars, or the other party being uninsured/under-insured. You might think everyone has liability coverage because it’s the law, but over half the accident victims who call our law firm have at least one uninsured party in the accident! 

Skipping the proper coverages to save a few bucks can and will hurt you financially if you are injured or if your car is too damaged to drive (or both). The resulting domino effect can be catastrophic when you can’t work or get to work and potentially lose your job, home, and credit rating due to unpaid medical bills.

The more insurance coverage you have, the better off you will be in the event of an accident—but you need to find coverage that fits your budget. When getting that insurance quote, please take a moment to think about the devastating effects that high medical bills and time missed from work would mean to your budget and your family. 

Most state minimum coverage plans do not require PIP, UM, or UIM insurance coverage,so many people neglect to purchase them. These three types of coverage can and will make it easier to recover physically and financially if you are in an accident.

WHAT ARE THE RISKS OF RELYING SOLELY ON LIABILITY COVERAGE IN TEXAS?

Federal Highway Administration data shows that Texas has the second-highest number of licensed drivers in the US. Moreover, the state has about 2.6 million vehicles on its roads that don’t have matching insurance policies. That’s about one in 10 cars on the road being underinsured or uninsured.

Driving in Texas puts you at high risk of an accident with an uninsured driver. You simply cannot rely on the 30/60/25 minimum liability car insurance coverage. 

This basic coverage means that if you get into an accident, your insurance covers up to $30,000 for a single injury or death, $60,000 for injuries or deaths per accident, and $25,000 for property damage. However, serious accident that results in injuries like brain trauma, disfigurement, or even death often far exceed minimum liability coverage.

Also, if the other driver in the accident lacks insurance or sufficient coverage—a common scenario in Texas—you may not recoup losses for damages and injuries. In fact, without uninsured motorist (UM) or underinsured motorist (UIM) insurance coverage, you might need to pay out of pocket for repairs and medical expenses, which can be financially crippling.

HOW CAN A LAWYER HELP WITH UM, UIM, OR PIP CLAIMS IN TEXAS?

In Texas, navigating claims related to uninsured motorists (UM), underinsured motorists (UIM), or personal injury protection (PIP) can be complex. A lawyer specializing in car insurance coverage can be invaluable in these situations. Here’s how they can help:

  1. Clarifying Policy Details: Lawyers can decipher the often complex language of insurance policies to determine exactly what coverage you have and how it can be applied to your situation.
  2. Filing and Negotiation: Attorneys can file claims and deal with insurance companies on your behalf. They are skilled in negotiation, which is crucial when dealing with insurers who may attempt to minimize the payout.
  3. Maximizing Compensation: Lawyers can help ensure you receive all the benefits you’re entitled to under your UM, UIM, and PIP insurance coverage. They understand the tactics to counter low settlement offers and can push for a settlement that covers your medical expenses, lost wages, and other accident-related expenses.
  1. Legal Representation: A lawyer can represent you in court if the insurance company denies or underpays your claim. Their expertise allows them to present a strong case that upholds your rights under Texas law.
  2. Peace of Mind: Having a lawyer manage your UM, UIM, or PIP claim can relieve the stress of navigating the legal process alone, allowing you to focus on recovery.

Ultimately, a lawyer increases your chances of successfully dealing with car insurance coverage and securing adequate compensation for your losses.

STAYING PROTECTED ON TEXAS ROADS 

Even with all the insurance available, accidents sometimes happen—and when they do, it’s best to have legal help. Hiring an experienced Dallas car accident lawyer from Reyes Browne should be your top priority if you’ve been involved in an auto accident in Texas. Our impressive case results speak for themselves—we have a proven track record of securing the highest possible settlements for our clients, many of whom have come up against uninsured motorists. Contact us today for an obligation-free chat to discuss your case. 

If you have been injured in a car accident, you need an experienced car accident lawyer specialist to protect your rights against insurance companies dedicated to minimizing your claim and compensation!

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