Frequently Asked Questions About Uninsured & Underinsured Insurance

As many as one in four drivers in Hawaii have no auto insurance. Even among drivers who are insured, the state requires a minimum of just $20,000 per person and $40,000 per accident in liability coverage. This means if another motorist causes an accident that injures you, that driver could have as little as $20,000 to cover all of your losses and just $40,000 total to compensate every victim of the crash.

Uninsured (UM) or underinsured (UIM) motorist coverage may provide the extra money you need. It is important to understand how these types of coverage work and what to do if you need to make a claim.

Our Honolulu personal injury lawyers at Leavitt Yamane & Soldner can help with your claim and make sure you get the money you deserve. Review our answers below to some of the frequently asked questions about UM and UIM coverage.

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What is UM/UIM coverage?

Uninsured motorist coverage may provide compensation after an accident with a driver who has no insurance. Underinsured coverage may provide compensation when the at-fault driver doesn't have enough coverage to pay all losses. UM and UIM coverage are available from your own insurer, and auto insurance companies are required to offer this optional coverage. The insurance covers policyholders and family members who live with them.

Does everyone have UM/UIM coverage?

UM/UIM is optional in Hawaii. Your auto insurance policy will specify whether you have UM and UIM coverage. This coverage must be purchased before you are involved in an accident. An experienced attorney at Leavitt Yamane & Soldner can assist you in reviewing your policy and determining whether your accident losses are covered by your UM or UIM coverage.

Should I buy UM/UIM coverage?

Every driver in Hawaii should purchase UM and UIM coverage. It is relatively inexpensive and can provide much-needed financial resources in a serious car accident. Uninsured motorist coverage may pay your medical bills, lost wages and other losses if you are hurt by a negligent driver who lacks insurance. Underinsured motorist coverage protects you in the event that a driver does not have enough insurance to compensate you for your injuries. The minimum insurance coverage in Hawaii is $20,000, which is often not enough to cover medical expenses, not to mention wage loss, disability or worse.

What does "stacked" coverage mean?

With stacked coverage, the UM or UIM coverage on each of your vehicles is added together, providing the most insurance protection. This often costs only a few dollars more per year. Additionally, the UM/UIM coverage of any family member living with you is also added to your available benefits. This means there may be two or more policies with UM and UIM coverage that may be available to pay for the injuries you suffer in a car accident caused by a driver without insurance or one with too little coverage.

When can I make a claim on my UM/UIM coverage?

You may make a claim on your UM/UIM policy when you are in a collision that causes losses that another driver should cover but can't. You must follow the procedures outlined in your insurance policy to make a claim. Notify your insurer as soon as possible after the accident. If the other driver is at fault for the collision and does not have insurance or has too little, move forward with a UM/UIM claim. You will need to prove the other driver was at fault and is unable to pay. You will also need to demonstrate the extent of your losses to the insurer. An attorney at Leavitt Yamane & Soldner can assist you in taking the appropriate steps to make a claim.

Can I make a UM/UIM claim if I was hurt while walking or biking?

A UM/UIM policy covers you for motor vehicle accidents even if you were not in a car at the time. Any member of your family covered by the policy may also be able to make a claim.

Uninsured motorist coverage is considered "personal and portable," which means the coverage moves with you. If you were on foot, a passenger in someone else's car, on a bike or otherwise injured by a collision, you may be covered. Family members who reside in your home may also be covered and may make a claim even if you were not injured.

How much compensation can I get in a UM/UIM claim?

The amount of coverage you have depends upon the policy you purchased. The insurance company is required to offer you UM/UIM coverage in an amount equal to that of your bodily injury liability coverage. Higher limits are usually inexpensive, so we recommend purchasing the maximum amount of UM/UIM coverage available. If you have a UM/UIM claim, it is up to you to prove the extent of your damages. Keep track of all medical bills, as well as all time missed from work. Speak with an attorney at Leavitt Yamane & Soldner for help documenting your losses to maximize your compensation.

What if I have a dispute over the amount of damages or if my claim is denied?

Your insurer is required to process claims fairly. If your insurer acts improperly, you may take legal action. Insurance companies that unfairly deny claims or are unwilling to pay in full for covered losses may be acting in bad faith. A claim for damages may be pursued if your insurer acts in bad faith. You may be able to recover compensation that exceeds your policy limits.

Will my rates increase if I make a claim for uninsured or underinsured motorist coverage benefits?

No. UM/UIM coverage is considered optional additional coverage. Under Hawaii law, an insurer may not raise insurance rates if an insured makes a claim against optional additional coverage.

If I have "full coverage," does that mean I also have uninsured or underinsured motorist coverage?

"Full coverage" is a very vague term. In our experience, many people who believe that they have "full coverage" do NOT have UM/UIM coverage. We recommend calling your insurance agent to find out if you have this coverage. If you don't, tell your insurance company that you want the maximum stacked uninsured and underinsured motorist coverage available.

More Questions? Contact Leavitt Yamane & Soldner Today.

For more on how we can help if you've been in an accident with someone who is uninsured or underinsured, give us a call or contact us online. We can provide you with the answers and information you need to become better informed of your options and rights.

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If you have sustained an injury and want to know if you are eligible to pursue legal action, it is important to obtain help right away. Call our firm at (808) 518-2120 or fill out the quick form below.

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