Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Enforce The Law Against Uninsured Motorists

The furor over the freshly passed law in Arizona regarding illegal immigrants aside, there is a side issue needing to be discussed. Namely, the issue of uninsured motorists.

California, Nevada and Arizona state law requires insurance for any vehicle registered in the state. Similarly, most insurers require anyone who buys an auto policy from them have a valid, current drivers license.

Despite this, the number of uninsured motorists currently on the road is alarmingly high. It has been estimated that in 2007 18% of all drivers in California carried no insurance. The same group (Insurance Research Council) estimated that in 2010 this number could rise to 20%. In other words, one out of five drivers on the road would have no insurance.

Where does this leave people who follow the law?

Consider California specifically. Say you're in an accident. It's the other driver's fault. They have no insurance. Who pays?

You're not out of luck if your policy has Uninsured Motorist coverage.

So what is this coverage and what does it do?

Uninsured Motorists Coverage pays for bodily injury losses to you and your passengers as a result of an accident with a driver who has no liability protection and is legally responsible for the injuries. This includes a hit-and-run vehicle whose owner and operator cannot be identified.

Uninsured Motorists Coverage also provides Underinsured Motorists Coverage. This coverage pays for bodily injury losses to you and your passengers as a result of an accident with a driver who has liability protection with limits that are lower than the Uninsured Motorists limits you have selected, and that person is legally responsible for your injuries.

The California Insurance Code requires an insurer to provide Uninsured Motorists Coverage in each bodily injury liability insurance policy it issues covering liability arising out of the ownership, maintenance, or use of a motor vehicle.

Uninsured Motorist Coverage insures the insured, his or her heirs or legal representatives for all sums within the limits established by law, which such person or persons are legally entitled to recover as damages for bodily injury, including any resulting sickness, disease or death to the insured from the owner or operator of an uninsured motor vehicle not owned or operated by the insured or a resident of the same household. An uninsured motor vehicle includes an underinsured motor vehicle as defined in subdivision (p) of Section 11580.2 of the Insurance Code.

While you're covered as a law-abiding citizen, you can see where this can and will also drive rates upward. When one company has to pay for a claim where, had both parties been properly insured, the expense would have been borne in whole or part by the other driver's carrier... not too hard to do the math.

So what's the solution?

Simple. Enforce the existing law.

If the politicians are as interested in the taxpayer's well-being as they claim, they'd insist on this simple step to save their constituents money.

So why don't they?

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