Seattle Car Drivers Beware of the Under and Uninsured

Category: Auto Insurance. Written by Bob Smith 

It’s risky driving a car in Seattle. Right now in Washington state, there are anywhere from 20% to 30% of driver’s who don’t have current insurance. To compound that number, many more only carry the state’s minimum requirements. This means that the likely hood of an accident involving someone who doesn’t have any or enough insurance is quite high. This is where Uninsured and Underinsured Motorist coverage comes into play. However, this is the most misunderstood and often overlooked coverage. There are a couple of different reasons for this. It’s an optional coverage, Washington State doesn’t require it, nor does any banks or lien holders. So how does this coverage apply any why is it so important?

Let’s look at the following example;

Joe is stopped at a red light and gets rear-ended by Mr. Inattentive. Joe’s $15,000 sedan is totaled, but luckily he is alright. Mr. Inattentive and Joe both have identical policies based on Washington State’s minimum coverage which only includes up to $10,000 in property damage. Mr. Inattentive’s insurance company cuts Joe a check for $10,000 as that’s his coverage’s max limit. Joe waived his Uninsured and Underinsured Motorist coverage because it was going to save him a few dollars a month. Now Joe has 2 options, he can use the $10,000 and get himself a lesser car or he can take Mr. Inattentive to court in hopes of recovering the other $5,000.

Uninsured and Underinsured Motorist coverage is one of the least expensive coverage’s on a policy, often costing only a few dollars a month more. Getting the car repaired or replaced in an accident is important, but what’s more important are the people in the car.

Let’s look at a more serious accident:

Joe is in his mid-thirties. He’s working as an IT professional and he’s making’s about $50,000 a year. Overall, Joe is a pretty average person. Joe gets a green light and pulls out into the intersection. Mr. Inattentive didn’t notice the light had already turned red and he met Joe in a T bone. Joe is hurt. He’s taken to the hospital for a few days in intensive care. His medical bills are piling up and he’s going to be out of work for about a month to recover. Joe’s hospital bills are around $25,000 as-is. He still has bills coming in for physical therapy, chiropractic work, lost wages, etc. All told, Joe would expect to be receiving about $60,000 in compensation. Mr. Inattentive’s insurance company quickly cuts Joe a check for $25,000 per Mr. Inattentive’s policy limits. At the same time they advise Mr. Inattentive to seek a lawyer as Joe’s injuries and entitlements are going to well exceed those limits. Joe called his insurance company and filed a claim for Uninsured and Underinsured Motorist coverage. His insurance company covers the remaining bills and includes lost wages, pain and suffering. Without that coverage, Joe would be struggling just to stay afloat, much less recover what he has lost.

Not all insurance policies are equal. Not all insurance companies take the time to explain what coverages you have and why. Call your insurance company and ask for a declarations page. Take your time and review the declarations page. Ask questions. Many times adding or raising limits on coverages like Uninsured and Underinsured Motorist is only going to cost very little, other time’s that additional premium could be offset with a slightly higher deductible. Be proactive, many times insurance policy reviews are put off and no questions about coverage arise until it’s needed – at that point it’s too late!

Bob Smith is a contributing writer for Seattle Auto and has been in the insurance industry for over 15 years. Bob is the principle agent at Advanced Insurance Solutions, which offers auto, home and life insurance to Seattle residents. Bob can be reached at 425-485-7477 if you have questions on your own insurance.

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