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Not all drivers adhere to Pennsylvania auto insurance laws

Consider the following scenario. You are driving along, minding your own business, when another vehicle seems to come out of nowhere and slams into yours. Whether you attempt to exchange information at the scene or find out later, you discover that the other driver doesn't have auto insurance, or only has the minimum amount of liability coverage allowed under Pennsylvania law.

If you failed to opt for uninsured and underinsured motorist coverage when you purchased your policy, you may only receive personal injury protection from your own policy, which probably isn't enough to cover your injuries. Perhaps this example prompts you to ask more questions about these other coverage options, but you have more questions before committing to the additional coverage.

What does underinsured motorist coverage do for me?

If another driver causes the accident that injures you, you may make a claim against that driver's auto insurance. Depending on your injuries and other damages, the policy amount may not be enough to meet your needs. You decide to file a personal injury claim, but the other driver can't pay the judgment you receive if the court finds in your favor and awards you damages.

In this case, you may turn to your own auto insurance to supplement the amount you receive from the other driver's insurance company. Of course, there is one catch. Your UIM policy limits must exceed the policy limits of the at-fault driver's insurance coverage.

As you can see, this policy differs from uninsured motorist coverage, which only comes into play when the other driver has no insurance. This may be a separate coverage through your insurance company or combined with UIM. It may be a good idea to clarify this distinction with your insurance company before purchasing coverage.

Having insurance doesn't mean you get a payout

You might assume that, since you paid your premiums on time, the insurance company will simply pay your claim without question. It may not be that easy. Insurance companies don't like to pay out claims, especially at policy limits. Whether it's the other driver's insurance company or your own, you could face an uphill battle to receive a settlement. In fact, your first settlement offer from one or both companies may be lower than you anticipate.

Accepting whatever settlement the insurance companies offer you is not an obligation. You may negotiate a better settlement, but you may require help doing so. You may want to follow in the footsteps of others in your position and sit down with an attorney who can explain your rights and legal options, and help you in your pursuit of compensation for your injuries.

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