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How to Protect Your Family from Economic Ruin by Updating Your Uninsured Motorist Policy

Several case examples and tips from Knoxville car accident attorney Sid Gilreath on the importance of having coverage for uninsured or underinsured drivers

Just like lightening, sudden car accidents can happen in the blink of an eye. Sometimes victims are fortunate enough to walk away from the scene virtually unharmed, but occasionally the accident results in serious lifelong injuries.

You can never be completely prepared for something as unpredictable as an auto collision - however, there are a few things you can do to keep your family protected if and when disaster strikes. One such measure is uninsured motorist coverage...

Here are four examples straight from the desk of a veteran car accident injury attorney on how an uninsured motorist policy can help cover the cost of your injuries, as well as some practical tips on how to keep your family and finances intact in the event of an auto collision.

Example #1: Your child goes on an out-of-state school-sponsored field trip by bus. The school bus, which is privately-owned, carries liability insurance of $300,000. During the trip, the bus driver loses control of the vehicle and crashes. Your child, along with others, suffers severe injuries requiring a lifetime of costly care (i.e. broken back, paralysis, etc.). Unfortunately, the bus's liability insurance is not sufficient to cover the injuries of all of the children on the bus.

Example #2: Your teenage child, who lives under your roof, goes on a school trip to New York. As they are crossing the street on a crosswalk, a texting driver runs them down, seriously injuring your child and costing half a million dollars in medical care. The negligent driver has the required amount of insurance (known as "full coverage") as mandated by New York law. Let's say full coverage is $25,000/$50,000 per accident, leaving you hundreds of thousands of dollars short.

Example #3: Your grandson who lives out of state with his parents comes to visit you in Knoxville. While driving him to enjoy a local baseball game, your vehicle is struck by a drunk driver. As a result, the child is paralyzed and will require extensive and costly medical care for the rest of his life.

Example #4:You and your spouse meet up with some friends to go hiking. Your spouse is riding in the other vehicle. That car is struck from behind by another vehicle and catches on fire. Your spouse is badly burned. The vehicle that struck your spouse's car has full coverage under Tennessee Law ($25,000/50,000), but it is still insufficient to cover the medical expenses, which exceed over half a million dollars.

It is important to understand that uninsured motorist coverage doesn't just protect you from other drivers who break the law by failing to insure their vehicle whatsoever. It can also be used to fill in the gap where the "legal" amount of insurance coverage is insufficient. In other words, your uninsured motorist policy applies to cover damages you or a loved one sustained that exceed the amount of coverage the negligent driver carries.

The best way to protect yourself from an underinsured driver is to carry uninsured motorist coverage above the state minimum.

Most people assume that adding uninsured coverage to their policy is costly. However, you will never know until your ask your insurance agent. For instance, a Traveler's policy for $250,000/$500,000 of uninsured bodily injury is only $28 per year, and a $1 million policy from Westfield Insurance is $366 for the year—considerably less than most medical bills.

Furthermore, many people make the mistake of buying large automobile insurance policies in order to have coverage for if they cause an accident and injure someone else, but they fail to protect themselves and their loved ones by buying uninsured coverage. Be sure to ask your agent about the amount of uninsured coverage you have on your policy, as Tennessee Law does not require the value of uninsured coverage to match the face value of your policy.

Preparation is key to weathering life's unpredictable storms, so don't be caught by surprise when an uninsured or underinsured driver hits you. If you have any questions about what your policy covers, call your insurance agent and ask them about increasing your uninsured motorist coverage.

And if you find yourself in an auto collision with an uninsured driver, don't hesitate to schedule a free consultation with an experienced Knoxville car accident injury attorney at Gilreath & Associatesto discuss your case today.

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Tennessee Personal Injury Lawyers at Gilreath & Associates offer free and personal consultation to help you evaluate your legal options.
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