Auto Insurance, Are You Really Covered? We continue with our series on auto insurance in Massachusetts with Part 3: bodily injury caused by an uninsured auto. Of the twelve parts, only the first four are compulsory. Many drivers mistakenly believe that if they have all four compulsory parts, they are “fully insured.” This is not the case, and here’s why.
Part 3 of the standard Massachusetts automobile insurance policy covers injuries suffered by you, occupants of your vehicle, or legally insured household members, that are caused by another person who does not have any insurance coverage. For example, if you or someone in your vehicle was injured after your vehicle was rear-ended by a driver who failed to purchase insurance coverage or failed to pay their insurance premiums (resulting in a lapse in coverage), Part 3 would provide a minimum of $20,000 in coverage per injured person, but no more than $40,000 to cover everyone in your car.
This minimally required Uninsured Motorist Coverage is compulsory and you must have it when registering a motor vehicle in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. However, as with several other “parts” of your policy, you can increase the amount of such coverage, generally to as high as $250,000 per injured person, and up to $500,000 or more in coverage for all injured parties. We advise you to seriously consider increasing this coverage because the compulsory coverage limit is minimal in the event that you or someone close to you is injured or killed in an accident, and the driver responsible for the accident is uninsured, the uninsured motorist coverage may well be the only coverage available.
While injuries caused by a motor vehicle operator with absolutely no insurance coverage are relatively uncommon, it happens more often than you think. There are several reasons a person may be illegally operating a vehicle without the minimum required coverage. Some examples include:
- the driver may be unable to afford coverage after being laid-off (this is especially common in times of economic downturn);
- the driver may have been denied a driver’s license due to a prior history of operating a vehicle under the influence of alcohol or drugs; and
- the driver may have caused injury while operating a stolen car or driving without the permission of the owner.
If you are injured as a result of any of these scenarios, you and/or the occupants of your vehicle will likely receive no compensation from the driver of the uninsured, “at fault” vehicle, regardless of how severe the injuries may be.
The only way to ensure some measure of compensation under these circumstances is to purchase as much “Uninsured Motorist Coverage” (Part 3) as you can reasonably afford. Again, while the minimum coverage limits of $20,000 per person and $40,000 for all injured persons combined, is at least some measure of compensation, given the high cost of medical treatment and losses resulting from a serious motor vehicle accident, these minimum coverage limits may be entirely insufficient to fully and fairly compensate you and/or the occupant(s) of your vehicle.
Stay tuned for Part 4 of our Auto Insurance Coverage series: Damage to someone else’s property.