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Don't just skip over that offer of uninsured motorist coverage

Buying store-brand breakfast cereal to save money may be a good decision if money is tight. You may even decide to stop buying certain items altogether, such as cigarettes, soda or dinners out. In fact, you can save a few bucks in countless ways that will not only pad your wallet but may improve your health.

Unfortunately, some people take chances with their health in order to save money. For example, although it is illegal in California to drive without adequate insurance, you may be sharing the road with people who do not have coverage. The Insurance Research Council estimates that one in every seven drivers does not have insurance. This means that if you are in an accident, the odds that the other guy will be uninsured are pretty good.

What to do after an accident with an uninsured driver

While those who drive without insurance may have their reasons, those reasons will not help if you suffer injuries in an accident. The thought of having to come up with the funds for medical expenses and on-going care may cause you stress and impede your recovery. This is why many people carry uninsured motorist coverage on their own auto insurance policies. However, the process of filing a claim can be confusing, and these recommendations may help you:

  • Refusing to accept cash from the other driver at the scene
  • Contacting the police and, if there are injuries, emergency responders
  • Obtaining as much information as possible from the other driver
  • Gathering details, pictures and witness information since California is a tort state

A tort state is one in which insurance companies will cover claims only when their policyholders hold responsibility for an accident.

You don't have to do it alone

Your next step is filing an uninsured motorist claim with your insurance company. This should not affect your premiums unless you have made such a claim previously. You would benefit from the guidance of an experienced attorney throughout this process since it is not always a guarantee that the insurance company will be fair.

In the event that you don't carry uninsured motorist coverage on your policy, you have the option of filing a lawsuit against the driver whom police consider at-fault. However, experience shows that people who fail to purchase insurance likely will have no way to pay any judgement against them. Nevertheless, seeking legal advice about this option may be your best course of action.

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