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Michigan Uninsured/Underinsured Motorist Attorney

Even though the state has a mandatory insurance law, Michigan has one of the highest percentages of uninsured drivers in the country. Furthermore, many Michigan motorists are dangerously underinsured, because Michigan also has one of the lowest auto insurance minimum requirements in the country. Complicating matters even further, many of these drivers fear the consequences of a car wreck and flee the scene. Even if the other driver had little or no insurance, it is always important to contact a Michigan car accident attorney to hear about your legal options.

At Buchanan Firm, our Grand Rapids personal injury lawyers offer more than aggressive representation. We also give you solid legal advice, so you can make the best possible decisions for you and your family.

What Policy Limits Must Drivers Have in Michigan?

Michigan requires no-fault auto insurance coverage that includes three basic parts for every vehicle: Property Protection Insurance (PPI), Personal Injury Protection (PIP), and Residual Bodily Injury and Property Damage Liability (BI/PD).

Personal Injury Protection (PIP). PIP pays for medical expenses if you’re hurt in an auto accident, along with wage loss and replacement services for up to three years from the date of the accident. However, on July 2, 2020, many changes occurred in Michigan’s no-fault insurance law, including giving Michigan drivers a choice in their level of PIP coverage. In the new plan, unlimited medical expense coverage for life will not be automatic, it will be one of six options drivers can choose.  It is important to discuss this change with your insurer to make sure you are properly covered.

Property Protection (PPI). PPI will pay up to $1 million for any damage that’s done by your vehicle in Michigan to the property of others. This can include damage done by your vehicle to garages, storage sheds, fences, as well as other people’s properly parked vehicles.

Residual Bodily Injury and Property Damage Liability (BI/PD). BI/PD pays—up to the limits of your auto policy—your defense costs and any damages for which you’re found liable because of an auto accident where another person is killed or seriously injured. You’re able to purchase higher limits of BI/PD coverage, but the minimum limits of coverage that everyone must have are:

  • $50,000 per person who is hurt or killed in an accident;
  • $100,000 for each accident if several people are hurt or killed; and
  • Up to $10,000 for damage your vehicle does to property in another state.

These minimum limits are often called “50/100/10.”

Why is it so Important to Have an Underinsured or Uninsured Motorist Policy on Your Auto Insurance Policy?

Michigan law requires drivers to buy no-fault auto insurance. If you or your family are injured in an auto accident, your auto insurance will pay all reasonably necessary expenses for a certain period of time (depending on what coverage you selected for the new law effective July 2, 2020), along with lost wages and replacement service benefits for a brief period of time.

In a serious car accident, injuries can run into hundreds of thousands of dollars, and few people have the financial wherewithal to satisfy that type of claim. The financial security of having adequate auto insurance is one of the primary reasons to have uninsured and underinsured insurance coverage.

Uninsured (UM) and underinsured (UIM) coverages will pay if an uninsured or underinsured motorist seriously injures you or a member of your family. That is someone who carries the basic minimum limits described above of 50/100/10. If you’re awarded a settlement from the at-fault driver, and they don’t have sufficient liability coverage, your own uninsured or underinsured coverage will apply.

Using Your Uninsured or Underinsured Coverage

If you are seriously injured in a crash where you are not at fault, and the at-fault driver’s coverage isn’t enough to pay for your injuries, or if the at-fault driver is without insurance at all, an alternative source is necessary to pay for your injuries and damage. Your own UM/UIM insurance coverage is that alternative source. You must purchase your own uninsured/uninsured coverage from your own insurance company. The coverage protects you if you are hit by an at-fault driver with minimum liability limits and you need additional money to pay damages that exceed the other driver’s liability coverage.

Most insurance companies offer uninsured (UM) or underinsured (UIM) coverage, but the coverage is optional and an extra cost. Many insurers don’t advise clients about this coverage because it is not a moneymaker for the insurance companies. In many cases, for only a few more dollars per policy, a driver can increase his or her UM / UIM coverage to the 250/500 level.

How Uninsured or Underinsured UM / UIM Coverage Works

If you are injured in a crash by an at-fault driver with no insurance, and you purchased a 250/500 uninsured/underinsured (UM/UIM) policy, you could recover up to $250,000 under your uninsured motorist policy. If the at-fault driver did in fact have insurance but carried only the minimum $50,000 in liability coverage, you need to first receive the at-fault driver’s $20,000 limit and then your own underinsured motorist coverage would kick in to recover up to the remaining balance of $200,000.

Because Michigan law does not require uninsured or underinsured coverage, the terms of an insurance agreement is controlling authority when the coverage kicks in. And, there are complex rules when it comes to filing an uninsured or underinsured motorist claim. That is why you need an experienced Michigan car insurance attorney to review the terms of your auto insurance policy, including the policy’s UM / UIM provisions. The attorneys at Buchanan Firm help you prepare an effective claim and negotiate with your car insurer on your behalf.

An example:

John has an insurance policy limit of $50,000 of liability for injury to one person for an accident he causes. John swerves over the centerline of a rural road and runs into Jack, who has underinsured motorist coverage on his insurance policy with a limit of $100,000 per accident.

As a result of the accident, Jack is very injured and will have permanent impairment. John’s insurance company will only pay up to his $50,000 limit, an inadequate amount for the permanent impairment Jack sustained.  Jack’s underinsured motorist coverage will provide up to $100,000 per accident or an additional $50,000 on top of what John’s insurance paid.  But are they willing to always contribute the full amount? No. That is why Jack would need the attorneys at Buchanan Firm to help him recover what is fairly owed to him for the damage sustained.

There are reckless drivers on the public roads in Michigan with almost no auto insurance. Some blow-through stop signs. Some run red lights. Some change lanes without looking. Some are distracted by their cell phones, and others are driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol. Drivers can be reckless and negligent in many ways. You must have adequate uninsured and underinsured motorist coverage to provide for you and your family. If you have additional questions, reach out to a Michigan car accident lawyer.