As we are all well-aware, COVID-19 has caused tidal waves of change throughout the world in countless ways. One of the more unfortunate effects is the historic amount of people who have lost their jobs, or where income streams have otherwise been greatly reduced. All across the country, faced with difficult choices, those financially affected are doing what they can to “tighten the belt”, by eliminating financial obligations wherever they can to keep a roof over their heads and food on the table. As a result, we are about to see a national surge of uninsured drivers on the roads.
Before our current financial strain, Oklahoma already lead the nation as the state with one of the highest amount of uninsured drivers per capita, with an estimated 600,000 on the road. In 2018, that represented 20% of all licensed drivers in the state, driving without insurance. It will absolutely increase. While there currently may be fewer cars on the roads, once our economy and lives begin to get back to normal, the vehicle traffic will increase, and so will the amount of drivers without insurance.
That’s why it is vitally important to add Uninsured/Underinsured (“UM”) coverage to your policy right away. In Oklahoma, you generally only have to add it to the policy of one vehicle in your household to protect you and your family members in all of the cars you own and drive. If you or your family is in a car wreck with a driver who either doesn’t have any insurance, or whose insurance policy limits aren’t enough to cover your injuries, you could end up being responsible for the medical bills and any other expenses that stem from the wreck.
Note that UM/UIM coverage different from “full coverage”. As an elective coverage, it is not generally automatically added to an insurance policy. A lot of insurance agents don’t do a great job of explaining this, or they give you a false reason why you don’t need it (such as “you don’t need it if you have health insurance”). Our office has seen countless situations where clients assumed that they had UM coverage because they had such a high amount of liability coverage limits and what they were told was “full coverage”, when they didn’t.
Wandres Law urges you to contact your insurance company or agent to ask whether you have UM coverage for one of your household policies. If not, you should add it, requesting the same amount of UM coverage as your liability coverage limits. The small cost per year is worth every penny, especially compared to the financial hardship that could occur otherwise.
For more information, ask your agent, and if you don’t feel great about their explanation, feel free to call us – we are happy to help.