Michigan Uninsured Motorist Insurance
An estimated 20% of all Michigan motorists do not currently have auto insurance. That number is higher in many communities, including Detroit and Flint. The reasons for expensive auto insurance in Michigan vary and stir a lot of debate, but the bottom line is that there is a 1 in 5 chance that a driver involved in a car accident is uninsured.
Not maintaining auto insurance carries with it many consequences. First, if you are the owner of an uninsured vehicle involved in an auto accident, you cannot open a claim for Michigan no-fault benefits or go after the at-fault vehicle for pain and suffering compensation. In effect, you are precluded from pursuing any claim for reimbursement related to the car crash.
But what if you have car insurance and are injured in a Michigan car accident, and the other driver is uninsured? Or what if you are a passenger in a car that is hit by an uninsured vehicle? What can you do then? If uninsured motorist insurance benefits are available, you can still make a claim for pain and suffering compensation by making what’s known as a UM (uninsured motorist) claim.
What Is Uninsured Motorist (UM) Benefits Coverage?
Uninsured motorist insurance is insurance coverage a car owner can buy from his or her car insurance company. Basically, your own insurance company pays out compensation for non-economic damages (pain and suffering, emotional distress, loss of consortium) for a person injured due to the negligence of an uninsured driver or uninsured vehicle. Uninsured motorist coverage is not mandatory coverage under Michigan law, meaning it is coverage a policyholder must elect to purchase when getting car insurance.
In Michigan, the minimum amount of uninsured motorist benefit coverage is $20,000/$40,000, which means $20,000 is available per person or $40,000 for the entire car accident. Coverage amounts can go up from there, with many individuals purchasing $500,000 or even $1,000,000 in coverage.
UM coverage is usually inexpensive. For example, I have seen $1,000,000 in coverage costing only $29 for 6 months.
What Are Common Types of UM Claims?
The most common uninsured motorist claim is a hit-and-run accident where a hit-and-run vehicle causes an accident resulting in injury. Obviously, a person cannot sue an at-fault driver for an accident if that person cannot be identified. However, you can still make a claim for compensation for pain and suffering by making an uninsured motorist claim.
Another example includes getting hit by a driver without insurance who is operating a vehicle without insurance.
How Do I Make An Uninsured Motorist Claim?
Making an uninsured motorist claim is easy. If you are the named insured on an auto policy, you can simply contact your auto insurance carrier and let them know you have been insured in a car accident and wish to open an uninsured motorist claim.
However, UM claims can also be pursued by individuals who are not named insureds or policyholders on a car insurance policy. Often, insurance policies will cover any individual for UM benefits injured when occupying a vehicle at the time of a Michigan accident. So, if you are injured in a car accident with an uninsured driver, you can make a claim through the car insurance company for the vehicle you occupied when the accident occurred, even if you have nothing to do with that vehicle.
A very important thing to remember is that uninsured motorist benefit claims are creatures of insurance contract. Therefore, the insurance policy itself will dictate the terms of the claim. Typically, there are notice provisions and duties and obligations the claimant must follow to pursue a UM benefit claim. These provisions must be strictly adhered to otherwise you are giving up your right to get UM benefits.
For example, most car insurance policies require that a police report be made within 24 hours of a hit-and-run accident. Failure to do so precludes anybody from making a UM claim. Many insurance companies also require a claimant to make an uninsured motorist claim within 30 days of the car accident. Again, failure to do can prevent anybody from making a claim.
Another important thing to remember is that only individuals not at-fault for causing an accident can make a claim for uninsured motorist benefits. If you more than 50% at-fault for causing the car accident, you cannot make a claim for UM benefits.
Uninsured motorist benefits is a powerful tool to obtain compensation when injured in a car accident. We recommend you talk to your auto insurance agent about adding UM coverage if you don’t already carry it. In addition, make sure the coverage is sufficient in case you or any body using your vehicle is hurt in a Michigan car crash.
The Lee Steinberg Law Firm, P.C. and our team of Uninsured Motorist Lawyers has been helping people recover uninsured motorist insurance benefits for over 40 years. If you have any questions about UM claims or UIM claims, please call us at 1-800-LEE-FREE. We can answer your questions and assist you if necessary.