On Sunday my brother-in-law was driving to Houston from Dallas on Interstate 45 when traffic slowed down south of Huntsville due to road work. He slowed down and entered the line of vehicles as the number of lanes shifted from two to one. The next sound he heard was the screeching of tires from a Dodge Challenger whose driver ignored the flashing road work signs, lost control of his vehicle and proceeded to side swipe my brother-in-law’s car and the next 4 vehicles ahead of him.
There’s no question as to who was at fault in this accident; it was the driver of the Dodge Challenger who stuck 5 cars and somehow avoided pushing them into the car ahead of them. The question is whose car insurance will settle the claim? This was the question Sheri, my wife, asked when she informed me of her brother’s accident. It may not be as straight forward as you think!
If you guessed the Challenger driver’s car insurance is responsible for all 5 vehicles, you’re probably correct. This depends, however, on the limits this driver has. If he has Texas state minimum limits of 30/60/25, then that $25,000 in property damage coverage may not be enough, depending on the severity and total cost to repair all 5 vehicles. If he was carrying higher limits of say 50/100/50 or 100/300/100, and the damage was slight, they may have enough coverage to repair them all.
If, however, the Challenger’s driver doesn’t have enough coverage to repair all the vehicles they hit, then the insurance company responsible may shift to the one or more of the drivers that were hit. In a case such as this, the victim’s may have to call on their car insurance to cover their own repairs. This is where under-insured coverage becomes very relevant.
Under-insured motorist coverage is the second half to uninsured coverage, or UM/UIM. Uninsured covers your vehicle if you’re hit by someone who doesn’t have car insurance while under-insured covers you if the person who hits you doesn’t have enough coverage. In Texas, these two coverages are interconnected, which is why I recommend it even to someone who’s wanting to drop collision coverage from their car insurance policy.
The good news is no one was injured physically and the damage to the 5 vehicles appears to be moderate. My brother-in-law suffered relatively minor damage to the driver’s side of the car and possibly a broken axle. This repair should cost between $5,000 and $10,000. What will be interesting to see is what the total amount of damage is to all 5 victim’s vehicles and if the Challenger’s driver has enough coverage to cover the repairs.
Aside from not speeding through a construction zone, this example serves as an excellent reminder to confirm if you have UM/UIM coverage, and if it’s enough coverage to repair or total your vehicle(s). What do you think? Share your comments, questions, and experiences with me on my Facebook, Google +, and LinkedIn pages. I’d love to hear from you!