Everyone knows that it’s illegal to drive in the United States without auto insurance, and yet the latest available data estimates that 13 percent of all U.S. motorists are uninsured. This makes the likelihood of one encountering a car accident with no insurance a real possibility in Colorado. If you have got in a Colorado car accident with no insurance contact Doug Allen today!
A report estimates that in Colorado, around 13.3 percent of drivers are uninsured – just a few decimal points higher than the national average.
While these numbers are worrying in and of themselves, figuring in a car accident with no insurance would be absolutely stressful. What if it happens to you? What do you do?
Here, we’ll talk about what you should do if you are part of a car accident where the one at fault has no insurance and vice versa. By going through this guide, you’ll also learn about your insurance options so you know you are adequately covered while on the road.
Auto insurance is mandatory in Colorado
Whether you’re driving in Colorado or some other state, you need to have auto insurance coverage. State law makes it mandatory for all drivers to purchase car insurance, so it also penalizes those who drive without proper coverage.
The penalties for driving without insurance are steep because they are meant to deter people from violating the law. In fact, drivers can be asked for proof of insurance anytime. Those unable to provide proof could be fined by as much as $1,000, get their driver’s license suspended and be subject to other penalties.
A driver needs to show proof of insurance both when registering their vehicle and whenever they are driving. If a driver can’t provide the necessary documents or insurance information, they could face a fine of up to $1,000, jail time, driver’s license suspension and more.
The type of penalty a driver will be subjected to depends on whether they’ve committed the same offense in the past. If a driver is caught driving without proof of insurance, below are the possible penalties:
|Penalty||First Offense||Second Offense||Third and Subsequent Offenses|
|Fine||At least $500||At least $1,000||At least $1,000|
|Community Service||Possibly 40 hours||Up to 40 hours||Up to 40 hours|
|Jail Time||10 days to 1 year in jail||10 days to 1 year in jail|
|Suspension of Driving Privileges||Suspension of driver’s license, registration and license plates until insurance requirements are satisfied||Suspension of driver’s license, registration and license plates for four months||Suspension of driver’s license, registration and license plates for eight months|
|Requirements for Reinstatement||$40 fee and file an SR-22 certificate (vehicle liability insurance endorsement) for three years||$40 fee and file an SR-22 certificate (vehicle liability insurance endorsement) for three years||$40 fee and file an SR-22 certificate (vehicle liability insurance endorsement) for three years|
|Deductions From Driving Record||4 points||4 points||4 points|
While these penalties may seem steep, getting involved in a car accident with no insurance can cost a lot more and can be even more stressful.
Therefore, it makes sense to adhere to state auto insurance requirements for your and the other drivers’ protection.
Minimum Coverage for Car Insurance in Colorado
The minimum car insurance coverage required in Colorado is meant to protect you in case you cause a car accident and hurt someone or damage their property.
State laws in Colorado require all drivers to have bodily injury liability insurance coverage at the following levels:
- $25,000 per person in one accident
- $50,000 total per accident for bodily injury
- $15,000 for property damage per accident
These limits refer to how much your insurance company will pay out in an accident where you are at fault.
Bodily injury insurance covers costs related to car accident injuries. This type of coverage takes effect when the policyholder driver is proven to be at fault in an accident where other people or parties are physically injured.
It covers short- and long-term costs to the injured passengers of another vehicle involved in the accident, as well as pedestrians or bystanders hurt in the accident caused by the at-fault driver.
Bodily injury coverage is not only limited to costs related to the victim’s physical injuries and property damage. It could also be used to compensate car accident victims in relation to any psychological harm and emotional distress they experience because of the accident or the injuries sustained.
Aside from these, third party claims on bodily injury can sometimes extend to these damages or losses:
- Medical expenses: These may include ambulance transportation, hospital admission, equipment fees and medical services.
- Lost wages: This refers to compensation for loss of wages or earning capacity during the period the car accident victim is being treated or rehabilitated for any injuries sustained.
- Funeral costs: When a car accident results in the death of a victim, the insurer can cover related funeral costs.
- Legal expenses: If a car accident victim decides to sue the at-fault driver for any injuries or property damages, bodily injury insurance may cover any legal fees the victim may incur in seeking compensation for both economic or non-economic damages.
What to Do in a Car Accident Involving an Uninsured Driver
In case you figure in an accident where the at-fault driver has no auto insurance, consider taking the following steps:
- Get the other driver’s completed contact details for you to share with your insurance company.
- Ask your insurer if they need a signed statement from the other driver attesting they lack insurance. In case they do, get the document immediately from the other driver or whenever possible.
- File an official claim with your insurer and make sure they know and acknowledge that the other driver has no insurance.
In case the at-fault driver is underinsured, their insurance provider can compensate you within the insured’s policy limits. You can then make a claim with your insurer to supplement the balance.
However, before settling with the at-fault driver’s insurer, always check with your insurance company first. Accepting a settlement without obtaining prior permission from your insurance company may void your ability to submit an underinsured claim with your insurer.
When to Call a Lawyer for Claiming Uninsured Motorist Coverage
As an insured driver, you expect your insurance company to be there to protect you in case you get involved in a car accident with an uninsured driver.
However, insurance companies usually try to pay as little as possible. It may seem strange because you’ve been paying your premiums dutifully, but this is what a lawyer is there for.
If the at-fault driver has no auto insurance (or does not have enough insurance), the first thing your lawyer will do is to check your automobile insurance policy terms for compensation for injuries and losses.
Colorado law requires insurance companies selling automobile insurance to sell uninsured/underinsured motorist insurance (UM/UIM). This should be done as part of every policy sold, except when the insured or policyholder expressly refuses UM/UIM coverage in writing.
Uninsured or under-insured coverage is different from liability insurance coverage. While liability insurance protects you and your passengers in case you get injured in an accident caused by an uninsured or under-insured driver, UM/UIM technically “steps into the shoes” of the at-fault driver.
UM/UIM insurance compensates you for the damages you could hypothetically recover from the at-fault driver if they were insured. UM/UIM insurance is quite useful in that it may be available to pay your claim if anyone in your household has a car with UM/UIM insurance coverage.
This means that you can make a UM/UIM insurance claim regardless of whether you were in the car at the time of the accident. You can also use your uninsured motorist coverage to cover you if you get hit or injured as a pedestrian by an uninsured driver.
By engaging a seasoned lawyer with a solid background and experience in dealing with insurers, you can get the payment you deserve for your uninsured motorist claim. A legal expert can help you value your claim and manage it quickly and efficiently. A lawyer will ensure you don’t miss out on any types of claims you deserve to make legally.
The Value of Additional Coverage
As you already know, in Colorado, it is mandatory for drivers to have $25,000 as minimum liability coverage. This amount is not a lot, considering the kinds of losses you can incur in a car accident.
Therefore, it’s important for you to remember that aside from the 13.3 percent of drivers in Colorado driving around uninsured, most of the drivers out there can only provide $25,000 in case they cause an accident where you’re a victim.
This means that no matter how high the costs of your medical expenses and property damage, the amount you’ll receive for bodily injury and property damage would be quite limited.
Getting UM/UIM coverage can significantly help you in covering these types of expenses. But aside from UM/UIM insurance, there are other types of insurance that you should consider as these can provide you additional protection as a driver or vehicle owner.
- Collision car insurance: If your vehicle crashes or collides with another vehicle or stationary object (e.g. tree, street lamp , wall or an electrical pole) and gets damaged, collision car insurance coverage pays for the cost of any repair or replacement needed. However, it doesn’t cover any medical expenses for injuries resulting from the crash.
- Comprehensive car insurance: This may be a misleading term, as comprehensive car insurance is not really that comprehensive. Its application is limited to damages to your car not caused by a collision. It generally applies to force majeure or “acts of God or nature” – things that are beyond a driver’s control. Force majeure would include accidentally hitting a deer or some other animal appearing out of nowhere, bad road or weather conditions (e.g. blizzards or hailstorms) that lead to accidents, or getting your vehicle carjacked or broken into.
- Med Pay or MPC: Aside from being required to offer UM/UIM coverage to policyholders, Colorado insurance companies are also mandated to offer medical payments coverage worth at least $5,000. With Med Pay, you gain coverage for reasonable medical expenses resulting from physical injuries if you are a car accident victim. Just like with UM/UIM insurance, you can refuse it expressly in writing. If you opt to have Med Pay, you can also ask for higher coverage.
Although the above types of insurance coverage may not be enough on their own, as they offer very specific types of protection, you can get these to complement your liability and UM/UIM insurance.
What to Do in Case You Have Problems Dealing With Your Insurer
If your own insurance company argues against or refuses to pay you due compensation for damages incurred in an accident caused by an uninsured driver, you need to contact your lawyer ASAP.
In such instances, insurance companies will do what they can to make it seem you are at least partially at fault in the accident. This way, they can avoid paying what should be your fair, due compensation for any injuries or damages you sustained in the accident.
Your insurance company might even try to debate or put to question the extent or severity of your injuries, so they can minimize your compensation. Any hint of fault on your part can lead them to drastically reduce whatever amount you’re supposed to receive.
Having to deal with this kind of stress on top of the pain you may be suffering and the expenses of recovering property damages could take their toll on you. Therefore, it makes sense to get a highly experienced professional lawyer involved in your case.
Anytime you feel you are being misled or treated unfairly by your insurer or that you haven’t made your case properly in your car accident, please get in touch with Allen Accident Law.
We’re experienced car accident attorneys who have dealt with all types of insurance claims through the years. You can depend on us to expertly and tactfully handle negotiations with your insurance company, with the end goal of getting you the best possible outcome for your case.