Risks of Uninsured Driving

Risks of Uninsured Driving

I recently completed a case where my client was hit by an uninsured driver and was forced to use her own auto insurance for the claim since the other driver did not have insurance.  She paid her deductible for the property damage and then made a claim for her injuries under the uninsured motorist coverage available on her policy.  In Missouri, if you have auto insurance, you automatically have uninsured coverage but it is optional (extra) in Illinois.  But was there exposure to the other driver for uninsured driving?

While the injury portion was settled to my client’s satisfaction, she still had to deal with trying to get the deductible back directly from the uninsured driver since she had a net loss in that department.  The good news is that even though she used her own auto insurance, her insurance could not raise her rates for making the claim since the crash was not her fault.  This is one of the main reasons I tell people to ensure they have full coverage (if their vehicle warrants full coverage) and to have sufficient uninsured AND underinsured coverage.

Unfortunately, even before the pandemic, there were many drivers driving without valid insurance and the problem has only become worse recently.  Moreover, there is the added issue of ride share/food delivery drivers neglecting to notify their insurance they are working which sometimes voids their insurance coverage because otherwise they would be charged higher insurance premiums.

Switching to the uninsured driver, she probably figured she was in the clear for her uninsured driving because she did not have auto insurance.  To her surprise, she received a letter from my client’s automobile insurance carrier stating she owed more than $27,000.  Imagine getting a bill for that amount after getting into an at-fault accident.  For those with insurance, their insurance will handle it but, for those driving without valid insurance, this scenario is a real possibility.

After settling my client’s claim for full value, the insurance company referred the case over to their subrogation unit whose purpose is to recover the money they paid out on behalf of my client.  The basis for their recovery is they had to pay out money in a situation which should have been covered by the at-fault driver’s insurance, however, since she was uninsured, my client’s insurance company had to pay.  In the past, I had not heard about too many insurance companies going after an uninsured driver but, lately, I have heard of more instances of them going after the uninsured driver directly.  Traditionally, insurance companies did not want to throw good money after bad by pursuing uninsured drivers who may not be able to pay a judgment or could easily file bankruptcy, however, insurance companies are doing so with greater frequency to pursue another potential revenue stream.

For those who risk driving uninsured, know there could be a sizable bill coming your way if you choose to risk it.  A judgment of the size the uninsured driver received will likely lead her to ruin her credit score and ultimately file for bankruptcy.  The cost of insurance would likely have been less than a $100 per month to avoid this huge bill.  For those driving with insurance or planning on getting insurance, feel free to call our office if you would like a complementary review of your insurance coverages.

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