Let’s go back to the 1970s for a minute.
During this time, Tennessee state lawmakers were toying with idea of requiring everyone to have insurance before they could buy their license plates, but insurance companies contested the idea strongly. As a result, the law that was passed did require everyone to have insurance – however, it did not require proof of insurance unless there was an auto accident or vehicle violation.
Nowadays, this same law is still in effect, and as a compromise for mandatory coverage, Legislature has enacted what is called “uninsured or underinsured motorist coverage” on auto insurance policies.
Unfortunately, many people overlook the importance of protecting themselves and their families from drivers who gamble the potential injuries and damage they may cause in the future just to save a few bucks on their monthly bill.
Here are three useful tips from an experienced car accident attorney about how to make sure you have an adequate uninsured or underinsured motorist policy:
Tip #1: Carry uninsured motorist coverage above the state minimum.
In many cases involving a serious car accident with an uninsured or underinsured driver, the state minimum insurance coverage is insufficient. In Tennessee, the standard coverage is $25,000 per person and $50,000 per accident. While this minimum may be more than adequate for most non-injury or small accidents, for crashes that lead to serious injuries— like head trauma or chronic whiplash— this amount often isn’t enough. Carrying uninsured motorist coverage above the state minimum is the best way to protect yourself and your family in case of a major accident.
Tip #2: Ask your insurance provider about the cost of uninsured driver coverage.
Most people just assume that uninsured motorist coverage is too expensive. This is not always true, though. For example, a $250,000 per person Travelers policy with $500,000 per accident of uninsured bodily injury is only $28 for a year, and a Westfield Insurance policy for $1 million of coverage costs $366 per year for an uninsured motorist policy. Don’t assume that uninsured motorist coverage is too expensive for you. A quick call to your insurance agent can answer this question.
Tip #3: Know what the law says about raising insurance rates if you make a claim.
One of the most common questions we hear is, “Won’t my insurance company raise my rates for making a claim under uninsured motorist coverage?” In actuality, Tennessee law (Code Annotated Section 56-7-1201(f)) states that: “No insuror shall increase the automobile insurance rate or premium of an insured with uninsured motorist coverage nor cancel the coverage due solely to the payment of any claim under uninsured motorist coverage.”
If you want to take your coverage a step further, consider buying an umbrella policy which includes uninsured motorist coverage.
Go more in-depth by finding out what Tennessee car accident lawyer Sid Gilreath, founder of Gilreath & Associates, has to say about protecting your family from economic ruin by updating your uninsured motorist policy.