What If Your Accident Expenses Exceed Insurance Limits?
Dealing with auto insurance after being involved in an Arizona auto accident can be surprisingly complex, as it’s not always a simple case of “being covered” or not. Damages are varied and debatable, insurance minimums and limits often don’t coincide with the amount of compensation one needs, and even the question of whose insurance company to go through can be unclear at times.
Let’s first look at Arizona’s auto insurance minimums, which, notably, have increased since July of 2020. In the past, these minimums were lower than most state’s, summing to only $40,000 total, but now they sit at significantly more comfortable levels which aim to decrease the likelihood of underinsured drivers:
- $25,000 for individuals who are injured or killed in an accident.
- $50,000 for any greater amount of people who are injured or killed.
- $15,000 for general property damage (cars, personal possessions, etc.).
Since having less than these minimums brings with it a host of penalties for uninsured drivers, many people opt for the absolute minimum of coverage necessary to drive legally in Arizona. This can be fine for their day-to-day lives, but in the event of an accident, this may leave them without enough insurance to properly compensate faultless parties for their damages (especially in the case of property damage, which can rapidly outpace the $15,000 minimum). If you’re one such party, trying to get compensation from an at-fault driver whose insurance limits don’t quite suffice, you’ll likely need to look to other sources of compensation.
Alternative Sources of Compensation
So, if the other driver’s insurance limits aren’t sufficient to cover your losses, where else can you turn? In general, there’s only a few potential routes you can look to for alternative compensation:
- Underinsured motorist coverage. Underinsured motorist coverage exists for this exact reason, and is strongly advisable for all auto insurance plans, as it covers the difference between your damages and what the other driver’s insurance limits are in an easy, hassle-free way; however, if you didn’t already have underinsured motorist coverage before the collision, you’ll likely have to look elsewhere.
- Claims against other parties. If you can prove that someone else was partly responsible for your accident, such as a manufacturer, road worker, or another third party, you could potentially open a claim against (or sue) them to make up the difference.
- Suing the at-fault driver. This is a risky option, as you can only take it if you refuse their insurance company’s settlement altogether. For example, if your damages total to $75,000, but they only have $50,000 of coverage, you’d be making a hard decision of whether to accept the $50,000, forfeiting your right to file a lawsuit and remaining on the hook for the remaining $25,000, or to sue, giving you the chance of a full $75,000 of compensation if you win, but with the potential of getting nothing at all if you lose.
Arizona Auto Accident Attorneys Can Help
Before making a final decision on how you want to pursue compensation (or if you even need to at all), you should always talk to an auto accident attorney in Phoenix to get perspective and counsel from a legal professional. ELG has extensive experience with these cases, so reach out to us at (623) 877-3600 to schedule a free consultation today and learn more about your options.