UM/UIM insurance is coverage for accidents and damages caused by uninsured motorists or underinsured motorists. It provides coverage if an at-fault party either does not have insurance, or does not have enough insurance.
Many people fail to take into account the types of situations that warrant the need to carry this coverage. Many states only mandate a minimum insurance policy coverage of as little as $10,000. This is not enough to cover the cost of repairing a relatively new car in addition to any injuries that may occur. Furthermore, if a driver collides into you and flees the scene, UM/UIM insurance will be vital asset and will help you avoid being left to pay for damages that were not your fault.
While UM/UIM insurance is essential, making a claim is sometimes a tricky process. In hit and run situations, making an uninsured motorist claim is relatively easy when there is physical damage to the car. However it is important to note that in some states, you MUST be able to show that the hit and run driver actually collided with your car and you MUST show that collision by damage to your car. A conflict ensues when a motorist causes you to swerve and hit an obstacle, or does not leave any physical evidence as a result of the accident. This is known as a phantom vehicle claim and usually requires testimony from an uninterested person.
Here are some tips if you have been involved in a hit and run with a "phantom vehicle":
- At the accident scene, ask everyone who is present if they saw the phantom car, and take down their contact information.
- Upon the first interview with paramedics and/or admission to hospital or your first visit to your doctor, always inform them about the phantom car and how it caused the accident.
- Report the phantom vehicle upon the first interview with police or patrol.
- Examine your vehicle carefully for any evidence of contact from the phantom vehicle.
- If possible, have your passenger(s) be the credible "uninterested" third party by having them sign a release and waiver of all UIM insurance benefits from your company, a release of the phantom driver, and a release of you. This frees them up from being named a party with an interest in the UIM claim.
- Report to your own insurance company a description of how the phantom vehicle caused the accident.