Why You Need Uninsured Motorist Coverage in Massachusetts

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Drivers in Massachusetts are required by law to have auto insurance. But itís not enough to insure oneself. Motorists also need to insure themselves against those who have no insurance or who are underinsured.

Itís estimated 1 in 8 drivers nationally lacks car insurance. But even those who do have insurance may opt for minimum coverage. This is especially true in Boston, where, according to NerdWallet, the average driver pays $1,240 annually in car insurance. When an at-fault driverís bodily injury insurance isnít enough to cover the extent of damages caused in a wreck, that driver is considered

The only way for innocent motorists to protect themselves from underinsured drivers is to purchase adequate underinsured motorist (UIM) coverage.

Massachusetts Law on UM/ UIM Coverage
The Commonwealth requires drivers to purchase uninsured motorist (UM) coverage to protect against hit-and-run drivers and those with no insurance (M.G.L. Ch. 175, Section 113L).

However, state law does not mandate purchase of UIM coverage to protect against drivers who donít have enough liability insurance.

But make no mistake: Underinsured motorist coverage is extremely important.
One problem is that many insurance agents battle fiercely to beat competitor price quotes. What they too often fail to explain to drivers is the true reason why their rates are so much lower: Lack of important coverage, such as UIM benefits.
There are an estimated 6,300 people injured daily in auto accidents in this country. Of course, we all buy auto insurance hoping weíre never going to need it. But given the high number of serious accidents and fatal crashes every year, drivers are taking a huge risk if they donít opt for adequate UM and UIM coverage Ė even if the law doesnít require it.

What Does Underinsured Motorist (UIM) Coverage Offer?
As is the case with most states (save New Hampshire), Massachusetts requires the purchase of minimum levels of certain types of auto insurance coverage for those who register and drive a motor vehicle.
These are:
ē Bodily Injury to Others: $20,000 per person and up to $40,000 per accident
ē Personal Injury Protection (PIP): $8,000 per person, per accident
ē Bodily Injury Caused by an Uninsured Auto: $20,000 per person and up to $40,000 per accident
ē Property Damage: $5,000 per accident

Although it may seem $20,000 is a lot of money, in fact it is not when you are involved in a serious crash.

According to researchers at Verisk Analytics, the average auto liability claim for bodily injury in the U.S. was $15,443 in 2013. That is a figure that has risen steadily over the years. Itís also an average, which means there are many people who suffer injuries for which the medical bills far exceed that amount.

Although Massachusetts is a no-fault state, meaning innocent motorists first turn to their own car insurance company to cover losses, drivers may step outside of this no-fault system when:
ē Injured person incurs at least $2,000 in reasonable medical expenses and/or
ē Injuries from the accident caused permanent and serious disfigurement, broken bone or a substantial loss of sight or hearing.

UIM coverage steps in to cover medical bills and lost wages if you are injured or if a loved one is killed in a crash where the at-fault driver only carries minimum car insurance. Your policy would pay for damages above the at-fault driverís bodily injury coverage amount, up to the limits of your UIM policy.
For example:
ē The at-fault driver has a bodily injury limit of $20,000, the minimum required by law.
ē You carry a maximum of $100,000 per person in UIM coverage.
ē The total amount of your injuries and lost wages equals $60,000.
ē Instead of being stuck with only $20,000 from the at-fault driver, you can recover an additional $40,000 from your own auto insurer, for a total of $60,000 Ė full coverage of your losses.

Note that because your insurance company is entitled to a dollar-for-dollar set-off from the at-fault driverís insurance payout, itís recommended drivers secure UIM benefits in excess of the $20,000 state-mandated bodily injury limit.

Another benefit of UIM coverage is that it doesnít just apply to accidents that occur while youíre in the car. Letís say you are struck by a car while walking or bicycling. UIM benefits would cover these damages as well.

Unfortunately, most people donít become aware of the importance of uninsured/ underinsured motorist coverage until itís too late. The benefit of securing adequate UIM coverage far outweighs the cost, and will serve you well in the event of a serious Massachusetts car accident.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Jeffrey S. Glassman
The Law Offices of Jeffrey S. Glassman LLC has been a personal injury law firm in Boston for two decades. Attorneys show their clients they understand how physical, emotional and financial pain can occur as a result of an accident. They provide caring, aggressive and high-quality representation to victims of accidents.

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Disclaimer: While every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy of this publication, it is not intended to provide legal advice as individual situations will differ and should be discussed with an expert and/or lawyer. For specific technical or legal advice on the information provided and related topics, please contact the author.

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