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What does it mean to be a minimally insured driver? Who pays?

Minimally insured car accident

When it comes to car accidents and insurance coverage, most people may not know how protected they really are in the event of an accident until it happens. If you don’t want to leave your fate up to chance, we highly recommend educating yourself on car insurance policies so you have a complete understanding of the fine print.

What is a minimally insured driver anyway?

In Washington State, a minimally insured driver has insurance covering the minimum liability of $25K per person and $50K per event. Generally speaking, every state has a liability minimum that you should have as part of your auto insurance policy.

As a minimally insured driver, you and your vehicle will not be covered in the event of an accident. Instead, there is an amount dedicated to paying for the injuries of the other party/parties involved in the accident and property damages.

The difference between an uninsured motorist and an underinsured motorist

Though covering an uninsured motorist (UM) and an underinsured motorist (UIM) are considered similar in the state of Washington, their definitions are technically different.

An uninsured motorist’s insurance plan protects the driver if they are in an accident with an at-fault driver without liability coverage.

However, an underinsured motorist’s coverage will supplement in accidents where an at-fault driver’s liability insurance is too low to cover the medical bills of those injured during the accident. Think of the UIM as the policy filling any missing liability coverage gaps after the UM coverage limit is maxed out.

UM vs. UIM: Who pays?

Being a minimally insured driver in the event of an accident is a situation you don’t want to be in, especially if it is your fault. (Whoops.)

For example, an insured motorist can still be “underinsured.” How? Let’s say you have a $25K policy, but you cause a collision resulting in more damages than your policy covers.

Who is responsible for paying now? The legal answer is that the other party can go after you for additional damages, so you’re SOL if you have no cash or other valuable assets to cover the charges. This is where having UIM coverage will save you. You’re welcome.

The three types of car insurance

  • Liability: This coverage protects you if you cause damage to others or their property.
  • Collision: This insurance will cover your car if you hit another car, person, or object. (Like your neighbor’s mailbox.)
  • Comprehensive: Lastly, this form of auto insurance will protect your vehicle from harsh weather conditions, vandalism, robbery, etc.

Accidents happen. Here’s how to map out your auto coverage needs.

We hate when lawyers sugar-coat things so we’ll give you the cold hard facts. The minimum state-required coverage will not cover you in the event of an accident where someone else is at fault. It only covers others for your actions, and even then, it may well not provide enough coverage. If you cause the accident, your minimum liability insurance will pay you nothing. ZERO. Having UIM coverage or Personal Injury Protection (PIP) can give you the extra security you need.

The never-ending fender bender case…ugh

Getting into an accident is bad enough, but getting into one with the WRONG person is worse. If you’re struggling to get the help you need to recover after a car accident, it may be time to speak with a personal injury lawyer.

The personal injury lawyers at Carlisle + Byers can help you get the compensation you deserve and get you on the right track toward recovery. Click here to schedule a free consultation.