What is Oregon uninsured insurance?
In Oregon, every driver must carry insurance to operate a vehicle, whether a motorcycle, car or commercial truck. Those insurance policies carry different parts some mandatory, some as add-ons. These components include uninsured motorist, underinsured motorist, personal injury protection (“PIP”), liability coverage, comprehensive coverage, collision coverage, and medical payments coverage.
Uninsured Motorist (“UM”) - Oregon Minimum Requirements
In Oregon, every policy carried by a driver is required to carry Uninsured Motorist (or "UM") coverage by Oregon law as part of their policy. By law at ORS 742.502, the minimum amount of coverage under an Oregon UM policy is $25,000. (Note that while the law does not put a specific number on the amount at ORS 742.502, it must be at least the amount of bodily injury coverage, for which the minimum is $25,000). In the event of a car accident, truck accident, or motorcycle accident that causes you injury because of the negligence or other fault of an uninsured driver, this uninsured motorist policy will provide coverage up to the limits of the UM policy terms. In fact, your auto policy for uninsured motorist coverage will even cover you in you are injured as a pedestrian or are in a bicycle accident caused by an uninsured driver. Essentially, uninsured motorist (“UM”) coverage provides insurance coverage when the negligent, at-fault driver fails to follow the law and carry minimum insurance. The best Oregon personal injury lawyers will make sure that you access all sources of coverage, including UM policies.
How does Uninsured Motorist (“UM”) coverage help?
When uninsured motorist policies come in to play after a car crash, bicycle injury, or even pedestrian injury, it functions just like the insurance that the other driver should have carried. You can recover economic damages and non-economic damages just like you would receive from the negligent driver, all the way up to the limits of your uninsured motorist policy. Economic damages are the types of injuries that cost money, including wage loss and medical bills. Noneconomic damages include things like loss of enjoyment of life because of physical pain and suffering, permanent injury, and interference with the ability to go about normal daily routines.
Uninsured motorist (“UM”) insurance is helpful in other circumstances. This includes hit-and-run accidents, where the identity of the other vehicle causing injury is unknown. UM insurance might be available when an accident is caused by an unknown driver, or “phantom vehicle” that is not involved in a physical car crash but is still the cause of the injury. In both of these cases, UM coverage may also be available when a "phantom vehicle" causes an accident, even though no actual contact was made between the vehicles. In the case of a "hit-and-run" or "phantom vehicle," the injured party must report the accident to the police or Motor Vehicles Division within 72 hours after the accident. The injured party then has 30 days to notify their own insurance company of the injury to put them on notice of the uninsured motorist claim. Note that in the event of a “phantom vehicle” claim, insurers are likely to require evidence that supports the claim beyond a mere allegation. Oregon's top injury lawyers will help you properly demonstrate this so coverage is triggered.
Do I have to buy Oregon Uninsured Motorist (“UM”) Coverage?
Note that although by default your uninsured motorist policy will be the same as your liability limits (minimum $25,000 in Oregon), you can choose to purchase less, so long as you maintain the minimum. To do this, you must elect in writing with your insurance company when you create the policy. By way of example, if your liability policy covers $150,000 to other drivers, your UM policy must also be $150,000 unless you elect in writing to lower the limits (with the lower limit still being $25,000). Like everything else in purchasing insurance, this is a risk. While your premiums may be less, a lower UM policy limit may leave you with insufficient coverage if you are involved in an accident with an uninsured driver.
Extra Uninsured Motorist Coverage
Finally, insurance companies offer optional add-on uninsured motorist (“UM”) coverage that provides for damage to your own property (your damaged car, for example). While this coverage is not mandatory under Oregon law, it can help pay for the full spectrum of your damages if injured by an uninsured motorist.