Do Insurance Companies Go After Uninsured Drivers?

Driving without insurance is not only illegal in most jurisdictions, but it also puts both the uninsured driver and other road users at financial risk. When an uninsured driver is involved in an accident, the question often arises: Do insurance companies go after uninsured drivers? This article aims to shed light on this issue.

Understanding the Role of Insurance in Accidents

Car insurance serves as a financial safety net that protects drivers from the potentially high costs associated with vehicle accidents. When a covered driver is involved in an accident, their insurance company typically pays for the damages, up to the policy’s limits. However, when an uninsured driver is at fault in an accident, the situation becomes more complicated.

The Uninsured Motorist Problem

Despite laws requiring auto insurance, a significant number of drivers on the road are uninsured. According to the Insurance Information Institute, about 13% of drivers in the United States were uninsured in 2019. When these drivers cause accidents, the victims may be left with significant expenses that the at-fault driver cannot afford to pay out of pocket.

How Insurance Companies Handle Uninsured Drivers

If an insured driver is hit by an uninsured motorist, the insured driver’s insurance company will typically pay for the damages under the uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage of their policy, if such coverage has been purchased. This coverage is optional in some states and mandatory in others.

After paying their insured client, the insurance company may then “subrogate” or seek to recover the money they paid out from the uninsured driver. This process often involves legal action. However, it’s important to note that the success of these efforts often depends on the uninsured driver’s ability to pay. If the uninsured driver has no assets or income, the insurance company may not be able to recover the money.

The Role of the Insured Driver

While insurance companies can attempt to recover funds from the uninsured driver, the insured driver may also have the option to sue the uninsured driver for damages. However, as with the insurance company’s efforts, the success of this approach often depends on the uninsured driver’s financial situation.

Conclusion

In conclusion, while insurance companies can and often do pursue uninsured drivers to recover the costs they paid out on behalf of their insured clients, the success of these efforts can vary widely. The existence of uninsured drivers on the road underscores the importance of protecting yourself with uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage. As always, it’s crucial to understand your insurance policy and discuss any concerns with your insurance agent or a knowledgeable professional.

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