The Dangers of Uninsured Drivers During a Recession
Economic unrest across Massachusetts and the rest of the United States has pushed many families to begin cutting costs in order to avoid serious financial hardships. For some, that means minimizing luxuries like Netflix, daily Starbucks orders, or even cell phone plans. However, with so many of us working from home or out of work, there is the temptation to lower our car insurance plans or allow them to lapse altogether. While this may allow some short-term respite from costly premiums, it can have dire consequences for everyone involved if there is an accident.
The Importance of a Thorough Insurance Plan
One of the unforeseen dangers of the COVID-19 pandemic and economic downturn is the increase in uninsured drivers. On paper, it may make sense to lower your insurance plan if you are not driving as much. You may assume that since you only have to go a few blocks to get groceries, what’s the harm in doing so without insurance?
Well, studies have shown that accidents are more common near your home, meaning that quick trip for groceries can turn into a catastrophic and costly car accident. When this occurs, you will want to have a detailed auto insurance policy, especially if your accident involves an uninsured driver.
In the state of Massachusetts, drivers are required to have an auto insurance policy that includes:
- Liability insurance for injuries: $20,000 for one person and $40,000 per accident
- Liability for property damage: $5,000 per accident
- Uninsured/underinsured motorist (UM/UIM) coverage: Equal to a personal liability insurance policy
- Personal injury protection (PIP) or Medpay: $8,000
These minimum policy requirements are designed to provide a much-needed source of income after an accident. This money will be especially valuable during a recession when you may be struggling to pay rent and daily expenses. You do not want to place all your burdens on a credit card or drain your savings just to make ends meet.
When you are involved in a car accident, you may file against the at-fault driver to receive compensation for the costs of the medical injuries, lost wages, and property damage you have suffered due to their negligent actions. In addition to your claim for damages, you may also utilize your own Medpay policy to cover a portion of your medical bills without having to prove fault. Both policies can ensure that the accident or your injuries do not leave you destitute.
But during a recession, the most important element of your insurance policy will be your UM/UIM coverage.
The Role of UM/UIM Coverage
Both UM/UIM coverage allows accident victims to pursue a claim against their own insurance company if specific conditions are met. For UM, this coverage applies to situations where the other driver does not have a liability policy or if the other driver cannot be identified, such as in a hit and run accident. In both instances, you can file against the limits of your own liability policy, meaning at the minimum you can recover up to $20,000 for your own injuries, $40,000 for you and a passenger, and $5,000 for damage to your vehicle, in addition to any comprehensive insurance and Medpay policy you may have.
However, if your injuries are more extensive, you may need additional compensation to cover the costs of your medical bills. That is why upgrading your policy, even during an economic downturn, may be in your best interest. Oftentimes, increasing your policy limits will only involve a small change in your premium. If you are involved in an uninsured car accident, you will definitely appreciate having a larger policy limit.
In contrast, your UIM coverage can also provide another form of compensation if you are struck by a driver who has a minimum policy limit. These are referred to as underinsured car accidents and allow you to file a third-party claim against the at-fault driver and your own insurance policy. Given that many drivers may have decreased their own policy limits due to the recession and COVID-19 restrictions, UIM coverage can prove incredibly useful in ensuring you receive proper compensation for your injuries.
These policies also apply when you are a pedestrian, meaning if you are struck while out on a walk or while biking, then you may be able to recover compensation through your personal auto insurance policy.
The Legal Aid You Need
We are living in unprecedented times that have brought on massive economic hardships for Massachusetts drivers. While many are struggling to deal with rising unemployment and the added costs of Stay at Home Orders, no one needs to also be involved in a car accident, especially with an uninsured or underinsured driver.
Sadly, tragedy tends to strike when we least expect it, but the DiBella Law Offices, P.C. may be able to help. If you are injured by a negligent driver, then you should immediately reach out to our Burlington car accident attorneys. We can thoroughly review all available liability policies to ensure not a single cent is left out of your case and, when it comes time to file a claim, aggressively advocate for proper compensation from both the at-fault insurance company and your own. Call us at (781) 262-3338 to learn what options are available to you after a collision.