What happens if I get into a car accident with an uninsured driver?

Stressed woman talking on phone after car accident outdoorsBy law, all registered vehicles in New Mexico must be covered by car insurance. Yet New Mexico continues to have one of the highest rates of uninsured motorists in the country, according to the Insurance Research Council. Their 2017 report revealed that 20.8 percent of New Mexico drivers were uninsured in 2015. That means that if you are in a collision with another driver in Albuquerque, there is a nearly 1 in 4 chance that he or she will not have insurance. While there are penalties for uninsured motorists, including fines and license suspension, getting in a collision with an uninsured motorist puts an unintended penalty on you.

Insurance Requirements in New Mexico

New Mexico minimum coverage law requires drivers to carry liability coverage of $25,000 per person for injury or death, $50,000 for total injury or death if there are multiple people in the vehicle, and $10,000 for property damage. If you are injured in a crash with an insured driver and he is found to be at fault, you would be able to file a claim to recover up to the limits of his insurance policy. However, if he does not have insurance, you will not be able to recover anything from him. He may be fined and even lose his license for not having insurance, but that won’t help you with medical bills, property damage, and other losses.

Protect Yourself by Carrying the Right Insurance

Therefore, it is important to protect yourself in advance of the possibility that you will be involved in an accident with an uninsured motorist in New Mexico. Because of this potential risk, many drivers carry a form of coverage is known as uninsured (UM) or underinsured motorist (UIM) coverage. UM/UIM coverage protects drivers when they suffer a property damage loss or injury from an accident with an uninsured motorist. If you have uninsured motorist coverage, and it is confirmed that the at-fault driver does not have insurance, then your own insurance company should compensate you for your medical bills, lost wages, and pain and suffering, as well as damage to your vehicle.

Some people are hesitant to file an uninsured claim for their accident since they are pursuing their own insurance policy. Though pursuing your own insurance company may not make sense initially, it is important to understand that you pay monthly premiums for this coverage and it is there to protect you.

James R. Keller
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Partner at Keller & Keller