According to current statistics, it’s believed that an estimated 25 percent of drivers on U.S. roads are without auto insurance. A huge and expensive problem for everyone, uninsured motorists causing accidents cost those unfortunately involved not only money in property damage and personal injury, but also in higher insurance premiums for all drivers who are legally insured.
In addition, while uninsured/underinsured motorist insurance coverage is not required in Texas, the costs to taxpayers associated with the prosecution of uninsured drivers, including court fees and incarceration, has become an undue burden. Surprisingly, many people don’t fully understand the situation or what happens when an accident occurs involving an uninsured motorist.
Should you hit an uninsured motorist, you don’t want to just drive away and forget about it. You have an obligation mandated by the state to report the accident, especially if the damage is over the threshold amount of $1,000. Not only that, if injuries are involved, you could be breaking the law by leaving the scene of an accident. Failing to report the accident altogether can lead to a heavy fine and legal consequences.
Furthermore, if you have insurance and the accident is your fault, then you’re liable and your insurance company must pay for damages you caused, regardless of whether they have insurance or not. The evident drawback to reporting an accident to your insurer is that your annual premiums are likely to go up. But, it’s still better than facing the possibility of having your coverage dropped or facing legal action.
However, it’s also very possible the uninsured driver you hit won’t want to report the accident, especially if minor, because of potential penalties they might be assessed for driving without insurance. So, the outcome could be – that you may not have to pay a great deal or anything at all for damage to their car.
But, be aware that if you’re involved in an accident with a supposed “uninsured” driver, it may not necessarily be the case. In other words, the driver could claim to be uninsured if they believe the accident to be their fault, in order to keep from filing a claim. Get all their information anyway, because if it actually is their fault, your insurance company can follow up and reveal any relevant insurance information so you can file a claim against them.
If the accident happens to be your fault, your insurance company will need you to provide them with the other driver’s coverage to determine how much liability to assess.
Another thing to watch out for – don’t be a victim of a scam. There are individuals who prey on innocent motorists and set up a “deliberate accident”. For example, a car speeds up behind you, while another one gets in front of you and slams on the brakes, resulting in a rear-end collision. You’re considered at-fault because you ran into them. The so-called “victim” of the crash will then attempt to file a claim against your insurance company, often reporting more damage than actually exists or a non-life threatening injury. In some instances, they may try to get you to pay them cash to avoid having the accident appear on your record.
Regardless of the circumstances, the safest bet is to call the police to the scene. Although you may be looking at a rate hike, it’s still better than getting suckered by a scam or being accused of breaking the law. Protect yourself and check into adding uninsured/ underinsured coverage to your existing policy.
Don’t leave anything to chance. Make sure you’re getting the best rate on your auto insurance. Why not get a free auto insurance quote today?
Have you ever been involved in an accident with an uninsured motorist? Feel free to share your thoughts in the comments section below.