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  • Writer's pictureAcclaim Law Group

A Guide to Underinsured Motorist Coverage

While California law dictates that every insurance company must offer their clients underinsured motorists coverage, it is not a requirement to have it included in your insurance policy. However, if you are ever in a collision, underinsured motorist coverage can be vital to safeguarding you and your family.

Unlike Med Pay, which offers medical payments upfront regardless of liability, underinsured motorist coverage can only be used by a party who is not liable. The coverage is utilized once you have collected settlement from the at-fault party’s insurance, and only if the settlement did not cover all of your injury-related expenses. In short, an underinsured motorist’s policy protects you from an at-fault party who does not have ample liability coverage.

Although underinsured motorist coverage can seem like an extra expense in addition to health insurance, it does not merely cover your medical expenses. UIM can be used to compensate you for other injury-related damages, such as lost wages and pain and suffering. It can be used in addition to Med Pay, without your underinsured motorist policy being reduced to account for the money received. And, in California, it is bundled in with uninsured motorist coverage.

We recently represented a client who made an underinsured motorist claim after realizing the at-fault party’s liability insurance policy limits did not cover her medical expenses in full. The collision was a chain reaction collision that involved the deployment of airbags, and resulted in injuries to our client. Our client received the third-party’s full policy limits in addition to her full med pay limits, and a portion of her underinsured motorist coverage.

While we were successful in obtaining an appropriate settlement offer for our client, she had a unique case, as underinsured motorist coverage has its limits. In California, your UIM policy cannot be stacked on top of a third-party settlement. This means that if the at-fault party’s insurance policy only covers $15,000 for each person injured and your UIM coverage is only $50,000, then your UIM would only give you an additional $35,000, with the $15,000 from the at-fault parties insurance being subtracted.

Despite this, underinsured motorist coverage is still a vital resource to have included in your insurance policy, as it protects you from having to file a lawsuit to cover unpaid medical expenses.

If you are in an auto-accident, discussing your case with a personal injury attorney in San Diego with extensive knowledge of insurance recovery is the only way to be sure that you receive a proper settlement. Insurance companies may seek to reduce or deny your underinsured motorists claim, while an attorney will help guide you through every step of the process.

If you have any other questions regarding what to do following a car accident, or would like to set up a free consultation, contact Brett Geruntino at Acclaim Law Group by calling (858) 252-0781.

Disclaimer: While we always seek to establish accuracy when publishing articles, this piece is not intended to provide legal advice, and should not be used as such. Each individual case will differ and should be discussed with an attorney or legal expert. If you would like to inquire about pursuing a claim, please contact us at (858) 252-0781 or email

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