Do Insurance Companies Go After Uninsured Drivers?
Last Updated on September 21, 2023
If you are involved in an accident with an uninsured driver, your insurance company could go after the uninsured driver.
In an accident, the at-fault driver must cover certain expenses of the other driver, regardless of whether or not they have insurance. Depending on state insurance laws, the at-fault driver may be required to cover vehicle repair costs, medical bills, and other expenses.
Keep reading to find out how insurance companies go after uninsured drivers.
What Happens in an Accident With an Uninsured Driver?
If you are involved in an accident with an uninsured driver, your insurance claim works differently than it normally would.
Here’s what you need to know after an accident with an uninsured driver:
- In a perfect world, both drivers involved in an accident have insurance. One driver is at fault, and the at-fault driver’s insurance covers the other driver’s expenses.
- However, 1 in 7 drivers in the United States is uninsured. There’s a good chance your next accident could involve an uninsured driver.
- Some states require uninsured or underinsured motorist insurance, which covers accidents involving uninsured drivers. In this situation, your insurance would pay for certain expenses normally covered by the at-fault driver’s insurer.
- Even if your state does not require uninsured motorist coverage, you may choose to carry it for extra peace of mind.
- If you don’t have uninsured motorist insurance, then you need to get compensation from the uninsured motorist for car repairs, personal injury expenses, and other costs incurred as a result of the uninsured driver’s actions. You and your insurer could sue the uninsured motorist, for example, to recover costs.
Overall, an accident with an uninsured driver can get messy.
Depending on your insurance coverage and state insurance laws, your insurer could compensate you for damages and then go after the uninsured driver.
Or, you could be out of luck and forced to pay damages out of pocket (say, if the uninsured driver has no assets, which reduces the effectiveness of a lawsuit).
You Can Sue the Uninsured Driver
In most states, you are allowed to sue the uninsured driver for any damages you incurred as a result of their actions. According to state insurance law, the other driver must compensate you for medical bills, pain and suffering, vehicle damage, and other costs you incurred.
Your insurer may sue the uninsured driver for damages. Or, you could sue the uninsured driver.
In a perfect world, you sue the uninsured driver and receive full compensation for your damages. The lawsuit is successful, the uninsured driver pays, and everyone walks away.
Unfortunately, uninsured drivers rarely have the assets to cover the damages. People who drive without insurance may not be in the best financial position. They may not have enough assets to cover your medical bills or vehicle repair costs.
In many cases, you and your insurer win the lawsuit against the uninsured driver, but it’s a hollow victory because you can’t collect the judgment. If the uninsured driver does not have assets to cover your costs, you’re in the same position as before.
If you have $300,000 in medical bills and the other driver has $5,000 in total assets, for example, you might receive $5,000 in compensation from the lawsuit, only to still have $295,000 in medical bills remaining.
How Uninsured Motorist Coverage Works
If you are concerned about collisions with uninsured motorists, consider uninsured motorist coverage.
Required in some states, uninsured motorist coverage forces your insurer to cover certain expenses you incur after a collision with an uninsured motorist.
Instead of suing the other driver to receive compensation for medical bills and vehicle repairs, you may receive compensation from your insurer. Your insurer could choose to go after the uninsured driver to recover their damages. However, you have been made whole because of your uninsured motorist coverage.
Other Coverages to Cover Uninsured Motorist Expenses
Other types of insurance coverage could cover the costs of a collision with an uninsured motorist. Depending on your policy and your state’s insurance laws, your insurer could cover uninsured motorist expenses via the following:
No-Fault Coverage: 12 states in America are no-fault states. If you live in a no-fault state, then your own insurer covers certain expenses after an accident regardless of fault. Your own insurer may cover your medical bills and other emergency expenses, for example. If you live in most states, your insurer will not cover these expenses automatically; the at-fault driver must cover them. The 12 no-fault states include Florida, Hawaii, Kansas, Kentucky, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, New Jersey, New York, North Dakota, Pennsylvania, and Utah. Four additional states and districts offer no-fault insurance as an option, including South Dakota, Virginia, Washington, and the District of Columbia.
Personal Injury Protection (PIP) or Medical Payments (MedPay): Many of the no-fault states above require personal injury protection (PIP) or medical payments (MedPay) coverage. These coverages cover certain medical costs after an accident, even if the other driver was at fault. If you live in a no-fault state, then you may already have PIP or MedPay coverage, which means you receive compensation for medical expenses even if the other driver was uninsured. Even if you don’t live in an at-fault state, you may have the option to add PIP or MedPay to your policy.
Collision Coverage: You could use your own collision coverage to cover the cost of repairing your own vehicle after an accident. You pay your deductible (typically $500 to $1,000), and your insurer covers the remaining costs of repairing your vehicle to pre-loss condition. Typically, the at-fault driver’s insurance would cover this cost. However, if the other driver was uninsured, then you may want to use your own collision coverage to repair your vehicle.
How Insurers Recover Damages from an Uninsured Driver
In an accident where an uninsured motorist is at fault, the uninsured motorist is required to pay for any damages – including personal injury expenses, medical bills, vehicle repair and replacement costs, and other expenses.
At this point, your insurance company will typically sue the uninsured driver to recover damages. They “go after” the uninsured driver to ensure they receive the compensation they are owed.
Final Word – Do Insurance Companies Go After Uninsured Drivers?
Millions of Americans drive without car insurance every day. Nationwide, approximately 1 in 7 drivers do not have car insurance. In some states, nearly 20% to 25% of drivers drive illegally without insurance every day.
If you are involved in an accident with an uninsured driver, then your insurer could go after the uninsured driver to receive compensation.
Or, you could receive compensation from your insurer through uninsured and underinsured motorist coverage. Some states require these coverages, while other states do not. Some drivers choose to carry it for added protection and peace of mind.
Contact your insurer or a personal injury attorney near you to explore your options after a collision with an uninsured driver.