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Understanding Colorado’s Underinsured and Uninsured Motorist Coverage

January 15, 2024 | Legal Claims

Colorado, like many states, requires vehicle owners to have auto insurance. However, not everyone complies. This article discusses when  uninsured motorist (UM) and underinsured motorist (UIM) coverage comes into play. In Colorado, UM/UIM insurance is a vital aspect of your auto insurance policy, offering protection if you’re involved in an accident with a driver who lacks insurance or doesn’t have enough coverage.

What Is Uninsured Motorist/Underinsured Motorist Coverage?

Uninsured motorist coverage in Colorado must be offered by your auto insurance carrier and is designed to protect you, your passengers, and your vehicle in case of an accident where the other driver is at fault and does not have insurance. This coverage also applies in hit-and-run scenarios. Underinsured motorist (UIM) coverage is also mandatorily offered in Colorado. UIM insurance provides additional coverage when the at-fault driver does not have adequate insurance.

Two Types of UM/UIM Insurance

There are two types of UM/UIM motor vehicle coverage: uninsured/underinsured motorist bodily injury coverage and uninsured/underinsured motorist property damage coverage. Understanding the distinction between these types of coverage is essential when selecting a policy.

  1. Uninsured/Underinsured Motorist Bodily Injury (UMBI): This covers medical expenses, lost wages, and pain and suffering for you and your passengers if injured in an accident caused by an uninsured or underinsured driver.
  2. Uninsured/Underinsured Motorist Property Damage (UMPD): This covers repairing or replacing your vehicle in an accident caused by an uninsured or underinsured driver. Note that UMPD may be less commonly offered in Colorado or have limitations.

Overview of Colorado UM/UIM Motorist Coverage

While auto insurance is legally mandatory in Colorado, only some drivers abide by this law. Colorado Uninsured Motorist Coverage and Underinsured Motorist Coverage help to avoid a situation in which you are left financially vulnerable after an accident with an uninsured/underinsured motorist.

Let’s take a closer look at Colorado’s UM/UIM Coverage.

Colorado Statute 10-4-609

Under Colorado State Law, all drivers in Colorado must be offered uninsured/underinsured motor vehicle coverage before any policy is issued or renewed [1]. The minimum liability coverage limits are often mirrored in UM policies unless a different amount is chosen. This means all uninsured/underinsured motor vehicle coverage options in Colorado will, at minimum, match Colorado’s minimum liability coverage limits of $25,000 per person for bodily injury, $50,000 per accident for bodily injury to others, and $15,000 per accident for property damage.

Colorado also allows policyholders to “stack” their UM/UIM coverage if they have multiple vehicles and have paid for UM/UIM for each vehicle. Stacking allows you to combine the coverage limits for each insured vehicle, potentially providing more coverage in case of an accident with an uninsured or underinsured motorist.

Although your insurance company may suggest the minimum requirements, selecting limits that adequately protect your assets and financial well-being is essential. You should always discuss your coverage options with your insurance agent to understand the best options for your specific needs.

Must Be Refused By Policy Holder

Colorado Uninsured/Underinsured Motorist must be offered, but can be refused. You must opt-out in writing if you don’t want it. Insurance companies will provide you with a specific form that allows you to reject this coverage, and you must sign it if you want to opt-out. However, many individuals regret their decision to waive such coverage when they learn the at-fault driver has inadequate insurance.

Why Colorado UM/UIM Coverage Makes Sense

When safeguarding your financial well-being on Colorado’s roads, uninsured/underinsured motorist insurance is not just a smart choice—it’s crucial. Here’s why:

Colorado is an at-fault state

Except for around a dozen “no-fault states” across the country, the responsible party’s car insurance will pay for damages and expenses in case of a collison. Colorado is one such “at-fault” or tort state [2].

While this system may seem fair, it presents a significant challenge when the at-fault driver does not have sufficient coverage. If you’re the innocent party in this situation, you will be in a difficult position. Without UM/UIM insurance, you may have to rely on the at-fault driver’s ability to pay for your medical expenses, property damage, and other losses. Given the unpredictability of these situations, UM/UIM insurance acts as a safety net, ensuring that you’re protected, even if the other driver lacks sufficient coverage.

Colorado has a lot of uninsured drivers

Unfortunately, Colorado has earned a somewhat unwelcome reputation for its many uninsured drivers. According to the Insurance Research Council, approximately 16.3% of Colorado drivers are uninsured [3]. This statistic ranks Colorado among the top 10 states with the country’s highest percentage of uninsured motorists.

Given this unsettling reality, it’s clear that sharing the road with uninsured drivers is a significant risk in Colorado. Having Colorado Uninsured Motorist Coverage & Underinsured Motorist Coverage provides you with a layer of financial protection, ensuring that you won’t be left empty-handed in the unfortunate event of an accident involving an uninsured driver.

Hit-and-run accidents

Hit-and-run accidents are another compelling reason to invest in UM/UIM motorist coverage. In these cases, the responsible party flees the scene, leaving you unable to identify or hold them accountable. With uninsured or underinsured motorist coverage, you could be able to cover your medical expenses, property damage repairs, and other costs out of your pocket.

What to do When Involved in an Accident with an Uninsured Motorist

If you’re involved in an accident with an uninsured motorist, it can be stressful, but there are several steps you should take to protect yourself and your interests.

First and foremost, you should take the necessary steps for your safety and peace of mind. This should include contacting local law enforcement to come to the accident scene, receiving adequate medical care, and notifying your insurance company. If possible, you should also try to gather evidence at the scene, even if it’s just taking pictures with your phone and saving them for later.

Once you have walked away from the crash’s immediate aftermath, you should consult an experienced personal injury lawyer. Even if you have uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage, an attorney with knowledge of car accident claims can help ensure you receive the compensation you deserve. You don’t want to be stiffed by the responsible driver or your insurance provider.

If you’re ready to move forward with your life and your recovery in the aftermath of an auto accident, contact us today for a free case consultation.

References

[1] https://law.justia.com/codes/colorado/2021/title-10/article-4/part-6/section-10-4-609/

[2] https://www.nolo.com/legal-encyclopedia/colorado-car-accident-laws.html

[3] https://www.insurance-research.org/sites/default/files/downloads/UM%20NR%20032221.pdf