a Car Accident with an Underinsured Driver can be devestattingThis is a commonly asked question in car accident cases.  Unfortunately, the question usually comes way too late to do any good.  In other words, the question is usually asked after an auto accident.  To do much good, the question should really be asked before an accident and action must be taken to protect the driver and his or her family in advance.

Health Insurance

The first part of this answer comes as a surprise and a disappointment to those that are in position where the answer is important and timely.  In short, your health insurance will likely be the primary source of coverage for your medical expenses in a car accident.  Worse yet, you alone will be responsible for your co-payments and deductible.  The other driver’s insurance will not pay until there is a full and final settlement of the claims.

Medical Payment Auto Insurance Coverage

This brings us to the next point.  Medical payment insurance coverage, often referred to as Medpay coverage, can be purchased in advance to help cover medical expenses in case of a car accident.  Medpay will pay medical expenses up to the coverage limits in your policy.  The coverage is no-fault coverage so your insurance company should not dispute with you whose fault it was.

It would be wise to purchase as much as you can.  Referring back to the discussion on health insurance, MedPay can either supplement it or act as your stand alone medical insurance coverage.  If you are in the latter positon, you may find yourself in a bind pretty quickly in the case of a serious accident.

Many purchase MedPay in limits of $2500 or $5000.  Medical expenses can exceed this often on the first ambulance ride to the hospital.   In cases of serious injuries, these limits are trivial in comparison to your actual medical cost.  This brings us back to the first point.  MedPay is most helpful when it is used to supplement health insurance for the purpose of making your co-pays and deductibles.  Even then, with minimal limits, you may find yourself going into debt obtaining medical treatment.

Uninsured Drivers in New Mexico

All this seems pretty unfair to an innocent injured driver so far.  The news actually gets worse.  It may be that the other driver cannot ever pay for your medical expenses, or any other damages such as lost income.    This is particularly true in New Mexico which has among the highest rates of uninsured drivers in the country.  This means that you will never recover from the other driver.  After all, if the driver has no insurance, he or she likely has no assets to insure against which you could get a judgment.  Lawyers refer to this as a judgment proof defendant.

The level of uninsured drivers is bad enough.  Many more are grossly underinsured to cover a serious accident.  The required liability insurance coverage limits in New Mexico is only $25,000.00.  In a serious car accident, the medical expenses will easily exceed this amount.    So without health insurance and/or MedPay coverage, you could again find yourself in a real financial bind.

Though it is a topic for another discussion, the best way to protect yourself from this last eventuality is to purchase uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage.  You should not only purchase it, you should purchase a lot of it.  It is actually among the best deals going in insurance in terms of affordability.  It is most definitely the best protection you can have in case of a serious car accident.