You’re driving along, minding your own business and grooving to Creedence Clearwater Revival. You stop at a stop sign (duh) and nobody else is waiting, so you go. All of a sudden, another car blasts through the 4-way stop and smashes into the side of your car.
You break your wrist and your car is severely damaged. Could be worse, you think. But then you learn that the other driver doesn’t have insurance — and that it-could-be-worse feeling dissolves into unbridled panic. What should you do in this situation?
How to handle an accident with an uninsured driver
Step 1: Call a police officer to the scene
With any car accident, it’s always a good idea to call the police. But it’s even more important when you’re in an accident involving an uninsured driver. Having a police record and an accident report will go a long way toward getting your expenses covered and will help smooth the claims process.
You’ll also want to take pictures of the damage, the location where the accident occurred, skid marks, and any other details of the scene.
Step 2: Exchange information
The police will certainly take the other driver’s information, but it’s important for you to do this too. In fact, this stage is where you might learn that the other driver doesn’t have any coverage at all. Be sure to get all the info you can regarding the other driver and their vehicle, as well as the contact information for any witnesses.
Step 3: Contact your insurer
What your insurance company will be able to do at this point depends on a few things, like how much damage was incurred and the specifics of your policy. If you already have uninsured motorist protection (both bodily injury and property damage), your insurance can do a lot for you when you report your claim. And if you don’t have this coverage, an agent can help you plan your next steps.
Step 4: Take care of yourself
If you’ve been injured, you’ll likely incur some medical expenses. Normally, the other driver’s bodily injury liability coverage would take care of it. But, in this situation, the other driver dropped the ball. Your health insurance may take care of your medical bills, but you could be stuck paying your deductible out of pocket.
With uninsured motorist bodily injury protection, however, your insurer will be able to help you cover these expenses, including medical bills and lost wages — things that the other driver’s insurance should have covered.
Step 5: Take care of your car
Just like you would after any accident, talk to your insurer and see what you can do about getting your car fixed. If you have uninsured motorist property damage protection, your repairs will likely be covered as though the other driver’s insurance were taking care of it. If you don’t, your coverage won’t be sufficient to cover the full expense of your repairs, and you might have to seek compensation through other avenues (namely the courts, which could get tricky).
How uninsured motorist protection can help
Uninsured motorist protection makes so much sense that 21 states (and DC) require it. If you live in a state where this coverage is optional, uninsured motorist coverage will help make it that much easier to get back to normal after an accident.
Uninsured motorist bodily injury coverage could also kick in to help cover your medical expenses and lost wages if you have to stay home from work. The property damage portion of that coverage would take care of fixing up your car.
What else can this coverage do for you? Find out by reading our uninsured coverage insight. And if you want stats on uninsured drivers, we have them right here.