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Lesson From Cedar Park: Buy Uninsured/Underinsured Motorist Insurance

Cedar Park made news earlier this week when the city declared that it’s adopting a zero tolerance policy towards uninsured motorists — every uninsured motorist stopped for a ticket or involved in an accident will now be given a citation instead of a warning. 

While I applaud the efforts, I also wonder, “Why now?” 

It shouldn’t be newsworthy that Cedar Park  (or Austin or any other Texas city) is actually enforcing the laws designed to prevent uninsured motorists from driving on our roadways.

The fact that it made the news (and almost every news outlet) is a stark warning sign that uninsured motorists are a problem.  In fact, Texas data indicates that 20% of the motorists on the road do not have the state mandated insurance.

It is also a reminder that you need to purchase uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage when you purchase your car insurance.

This coverage protects you  and your family when you’re involved in a wreck with one of these uninsured motorist drivers.

But uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage doesn’t just protect you from wrecks with uninsured motorists.  It also protects you when you’re in a wreck with an underinsured motorist — a driver who has at least the state minimum insurance, but doesn’t have enough insurance to cover the harm caused by all of your injuries.  While twenty percent of Texas drivers don’t have insurance, when they do have insurance, the vast majority only have the state minimum  (currently $30,000).  While that is enough to cover your injuries in a minor wreck, it might not even be enough to cover a trip to the emergency room and certainly not a surgery.

What does that mean in real life?  I’m sitting here looking at a list of auto accident cases that my firm will wrap up in the next month to six weeks once the paperwork is finalized.  Of the five cases on the list, four of them involved a claim against my client’s uninsured/underinsured motorist carrier.  Additionally, the fifth case would have required an uninsured/underinsured motorist claim had the other driver carried a minimum $30,000 policy (instead the other driver was one of those rare drivers with a much larger policy).

That additional coverage is often the difference necessary to make sure that they can get the medical care they need or pay their mortgage or other bills after being off of work.  In short, it’s important.

That’s why I always advise my clients to make sure they purchase sufficient uninsured/underinsured motorist when buying their car insurance.  You spend a lot of money on car insurance to protect others.  But you need to spend a little bit more to protect yourself and your loved ones.

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