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What to know if you are in an accident and the other driver is uninsured

Many California drivers have no auto insurance. According to a 2021 study by the Insurance Research Council, uninsured motorists accounted for 12.6 percent of motorists nationwide, or about one in eight drivers. A 2019 list of the top 10 highest percentage of uninsured motorists ranked California number 10 with a percentage of uninsured motorists at 16.6%.

The question for many accident victims is: “What happens in the event of an accident or hit-and-run event involving an uninsured or underinsured motorist?”

California uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage

Uninsured Motorist Coverage, or UM, covers you if you are in an accident with a driver who does not have any liability insurance. Underinsured Motorist Coverage, or UIM, provides reimbursement in an accident with an underinsured driver. California laws require insurance companies to offer you UM and UIM insurance. If you choose not to buy it, you must sign a waiver verifying that the company offered you the option, and you turned it down.

UM and UIM benefits

Even if you are not in your own car, the insurance protects you. The policy applies to the person, not the vehicle. UM and UIM provisions may cover:

  • traveling in a car service or any car as a passenger
  • bicycle accidents
  • pedestrian accidents
  • any person in your car

An uninsured driver may cause serious injuries to you or your passengers in an accident. Preparation is the best way to protect yourself. Understanding UM and UIM coverage is your first step toward providing for your financial and physical well-being.