This situation is becoming all too familiar, you are injured in an auto accident and come to find out the other party has little or no insurance. This is becoming reality, in light of the current economic situation, many are opting to not get insurance or get the minimum amount required by law.
The only way to protect yourself is to renew your auto insurance policy. The declaration page of the policy lists the coverage you are receiving and providing the premiums that you are paying for each. The most important persons to protect are you and your immediate family members. Your family member are the uninsured (UM) and underinsured motorist (UIM) coverages, which apply when you are hurt by a driver with no or little insurance. Further, unlike liability coverage, UM and UIM coverages apply (with some limitations) even when you are not in your own automobile – they follow you around.
It is advisable to have UM and UIM coverages in the same amount as your liability coverage. For example, if your liability coverage is in the amount of $100,000, then your UM and UIM coverages should be $100,000 each. In other words, you should protect yourself and your loved ones at least as much as you protect the other guy.
In West Virginia, unlike most states, UM and UIM are separate coverages. Also, UM coverage is mandatory in West Virginia while UIM coverage is optional (yet still highly advisable). As the name implies, UM coverage will likely be the only source that you have to pay for damages that you suffer when struck by a driver with no liability insurance.
If you are in a situation where you are hurt by a driver without enough insurance, your UIM coverage will apply to any damages that you suffer in excess of his limit. For example, if you suffer $120,000 in damages but the other driver only had $20,000 in liability coverage, your UIM coverage would step in and pay the next $100,000 (if you have that much in coverage).
Check with your insurance agent you may be surprised at how little additional cost these critical coverages will add to your policy.