Importance of having UM/UIM & Gap coverage
Under Texas law, all personal auto policies must include Uninsured/Underinsured Motorist coverage, unless that coverage is rejected, in writing. The minimum coverage required is $30,000 for bodily injury or death for per person ($60,000 per accident), as well as $25,000 in coverage for any property damage.
The coverage generally applies to four different circumstances:
- Absence of liability coverage: where the other driver is responsible for the accident but does not have any insurance;
- Hit and runs: when the driver who is responsible for the accident flees the scene and therefore they/their insurance cannot be identified. Note, however, that this does not cover losses if the damage involved cargo that fell off the hit and run vehicle;
- Too little coverage: when the other driver is responsible but does not have enough coverage to fully compensate for the damages; and
- Uncollectable liability coverage: where the insurance carrier for the driver responsible for the accident denies coverage or when that insurance carrier is insolvent/unable to make payments.
However, until an insured establishes that they are legally entitled to recover against a UM/UIM motorist, the insurer has no obligation to pay benefits, and this is sometimes established via trial or settlement.
Texas law also mandates that insurers must promptly acknowledge, handle, investigate, and pay claims. Specifically, within 15 days of receiving a claim, they must:
- Acknowledge that they have received it;
- Begin any relevant investigations of the claim; and
- Request that they claimant submit any information they might need, such as statements, forms, etc. Within 15 days of receiving all of this required information, the insurer must either accept the claim, reject it (while providing specific reasons for doing so), or inform the insured as to why it is doing neither at the time, and make its decision to accept or reject the claim within 45 days.
If the insurer delays payment for more than 60 days even if it has all of the information that it needs, it is liable for an 18 percent statutory penalty and attorney’s fees, as well as any other relief deemed necessary.
Importance of purchasing Gap insurance
“Gap” insurance refers to the difference between what you still owe in terms of paying off your car, and what it is worth after the accident. The insurer for whomever is at fault will only cover the current value of the car; that means that you are still left figuring out what to do about the payments you still have to make to pay the car off.
Gap insurance covers this difference; without you, you essentially have to continue to pay off the car out of your own pocket, and it is typically purchased either through your own insurer or through the dealership where you purchased your car.
Contact Our Houston Auto Accident Attorneys
Auto accidents lead to serious injuries and other damage every day on Texas roads. If you or a loved one has suffered due to a negligent driver, contact our experienced accident attorneys at The West Law Office today to ensure that you receive what you need to get back on the road to recovery.