Mansell, Engel & Cole

Uninsured motorists can disrupt your life

In Oklahoma and nearly every other state, driving without minimum insurance coverage is against the law. Insurance provides assistance in paying for property damage and injuries following a car accident. Because Oklahoma is an at-fault state, the driver who is determined to be responsible for the accident is the one whose insurance covers the damages.

There are good and bad elements to this. On the positive side, an accident won't affect your premiums if the other guy causes it. On the negative side, the amount of coverage the responsible driver carries limits the amount of your compensation. If the responsible driver is one of the 30 million drivers on the road who have no insurance, you may be out of luck.

A bird in the hand?

After a collision, an uninsured driver may try to make things go away quickly by offering you money before authorities arrive at the scene. Drivers who do this certainly know that keeping the police from discovering they were driving without insurance is in their best interests. However, it may not benefit you. There is universal agreement that accepting this offer is a poor idea.

First, without a trained eye evaluating the damage to your vehicle, you may not be able to accurately estimate the cost of making repairs. You may be unable to observe structural damage that could cost you considerably more than the other driver has in his or her wallet. Additionally, even in a minor accident, you may not realize you have suffered serious injuries until hours or days after the crash. Accepting a few dollars may leave you with mountains of medical bills.

When preparation isn't enough

You may already understand the risk you take that other drivers are not insured within the requirements of the law. Perhaps you have taken the advice of your insurance agent and purchased uninsured motorist coverage. After an accident with an uninsured motorist, you have the option to make a claim on your own policy using your UIM coverage. You should know that taking advantage of UIM coverage after an accident does not affect your premiums if authorities determine you are not at fault.

If you did everything right, you may be shocked if the insurance company denies your legitimate UIM claim. Your medical bills continue to mount, and your car repair bills did serious damage to your budget. After surviving the trauma of a car accident and dealing with the frustration of an insurance claim, it may feel like the world is working against you. However, you have the right to obtain the assistance of a legal professional who will work for you when your insurance company does not treat you fairly.

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