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If you have been injured or suffered property damage in a hit-and-run accident and think that the worst is behind you, you might want to read this one. Turns out, the worst is yet to come if the accident took place in California.

Here at the Allegiance Law, our San Francisco uninsured motorist accident attorney has received tons of complaints from readers regarding their uninsured motorist insurance coverage. Many people learned it the hard way that uninsured motorist coverage does not pay for repairs if you cannot find or identify the other driver or car by its plate number.

“Wait, what?” I know what you are thinking, but let us explain. If you have collision coverage on your auto insurance, your insurance company will be required to pay for the repairs of your vehicle, but you will still have to pay the deductible, which is usually between $250 and $1,000.

Uninsured motorist coverage in California: What’s covered and what’s not

In the event of a car accident in which the at-fault driver remained at the scene but had no liability coverage, your uninsured motorist coverage would pay the deductible on its own. But this is not what happens when you suffer damages in a hit-and-run crash in San Francisco or elsewhere in California.

If you, on the other hand, carry no collision coverage as part of your auto insurance, your uninsured motorist coverage will not cover any property damages unless you or the police can identify the driver who hit you.

“So what you are telling me is that uninsured motorist coverage is basically useless and I shouldn’t be paying for it anymore, right?” you are probably thinking. Not really, do not be quick to get rid of your uninsured motorist coverage just yet. After all, this coverage will still pay for bodily injury damages up to your policy limit even if your collision has been categorized as a hit-and-run accident.

What’s the deal with the uninsured motorist coverage?

Many people assume that having uninsured motorist coverage means that their insurance company will have to pay their deductible, but this is not entirely true. It only seems fair if your insurance company would pay the deductible as long as you complied with your insurer’s notice requirements and were not at fault for the accident. But that is not what actually happens after hit-and-run crashes in California.

“And the most ridiculous part is that this has been in plain view in your contract with your insurer from the very beginning,” says our experienced uninsured motorist attorney in San Francisco. This issue is not new, as the Department of Insurance in California has received numerous complaints about this over the years.

Hit-and-run accidents in San Francisco and all across the state are on the rise, which is why the issue of policyholders having to pay their deductible on their own when the at-fault driver cannot be identified keeps getting more attention and coverage in the media.

Fact: In California alone, there was a nearly 50-percent increase in the number of hit-and-run accidents over a four-year period (from 67,731 in 2013 to 100,342 in 2017).

How auto insurance coverages work in California

Many car owners in San Francisco and all across California do not understand in which situations their insurance coverages kick in. As you may or may not know, only liability coverage is required by California law, while other coverages, including the uninsured motorist one, are optional.

However, the vast majority of insurance companies in California include the uninsured motorist coverage in auto policies automatically unless the policyholder wishes to opt out of this coverage in writing. We invited our San Francisco uninsured motorist accident attorney from the Allegiance Law to discuss the basics of how the uninsured motorist coverage works in California.

“In order to claim the uninsured motorist coverage, your vehicle must have been in physical contact with another vehicle,” says our lawyer. “Meaning: if another vehicle makes an unsafe lane turn and causes you to swerve and, as a result, slam into a building or barrier, you will not be able to request uninsured motorist coverage for property damage and bodily injury.”

But when there is physical contact, whether or not you will be able to get your insurer to pay for the damages depends on whether you can identify the at-fault driver or not. If you can, your coverage will pay for bodily injury damages to you and any passengers up to your policy limits.

Having collision coverage, on the other hand, means that your uninsured motorist coverage will cover both the deductible and property damage expenses, up to your policy limit.

I know, it is complicated. If this sounds like too much to process, contact our skilled lawyers at the Allegiance Law and get a free consultation. Call our offices at 415-404-6395.

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