In my practice as an auto accident attorney, I frequently untangle Oregon’s complex auto insurance laws for my clients. For example: who pays your medical bills after a car accident, and under which scenario? What is Personal Injury Protection (PIP) insurance, and how does it differ from Uninsured Motorist Coverage in Oregon?
I’ll unpack it for you.
What is Uninsured Motorist Coverage?
In short: if you are injured in an accident with an uninsured (or underinsured) driver, you can file a claim against your auto insurance company for uninsured motorist benefits or UIM.
In a real-life example, it would play out something like this: you are injured in a car accident. Your medical care costs $60,000. The person who caused the crash however is uninsured, so you won’t be able to get reimbursed from their side. In this case, UIM insurance steps in and pays your medical bills up to your policy limit.
Be sure to contact your insurance agent or insurance company’s claim office to set up an UIM claim as soon as possible after your accident.
What Does Uninsured Motorist Coverage Pay For?
Unfortunately, the cost of medical care has continued to rise over the last years. In step with that, the number of uninsured Oregon drivers also increased over 40% from 2012 to 2015. So more people are needing to use their UIM coverage.
Luckily, UIM pays for the medical expenses, lost income, and any pain and suffering when you are injured in a motor vehicle accident caused by a driver with no or insufficient insurance. Heirs are also eligible for these benefits, in case the uninsured driver caused a death.
Oregon law requires car insurance policies to have the same amount of UIM as they do for liability insurance. There is an option for you to to tell them in writing that you want less UIM insurance however.
Generally, the minimum amount of liability/UIM insurance you must have in Oregon is $25,000 per person, and $50,000 per accident. Most experts however advise to have UIM coverage of at least $100,000 per person and $300,000 per accident.
Beyond covering your medical expenses, UIM can also help with property damage. UIM pays to repair or replace your car if it was damaged by a driver with no insurance. Insurance companies are required to make uninsured property damage coverage available if you want it – but you are not required to buy it. If you do purchase it, you must purchase at least $20,000 of coverage per accident.
UIM vs PIP – How Are They Different?
Your car insurance’s PIP pays your medical expenses, lost income, and other benefits when you are injured in a car accident. Every auto insurance policy in Oregon must have PIP coverage, with limited exceptions. (Here is a guide on How to Submit Medical Bills to Your Auto Insurance in Oregon.)
UIM, on the other hand, pays you only if you’ve been hurt by an uninsured or underinsured driver.
Is it a good idea to have both types on insurance? Yes. Generally, the more insurance coverage you have, the better. Of course, you need to find a balance and buy the coverage that fits your budget. Taking a moment and thinking about the burden medical debt can put on you and your family is a good way to put that coverage into perspective.
If you want more information about Oregon’s Uninsured Motorist Coverage, read Uninsured and Underinsured Drivers.
I know that the days, weeks, and months after an accident and dealing with insurance companies can be a daunting and exhausting time.
If you need help with filing your UIM and PIP claims, or assistance in dealing with a refusal from your insurance company –
Gary R. Johnson Law is here to help and advocate for you.
We never charge for an initial consultation, so give us a call today.