COLORADO UNINSURED & UNDERINSURED MOTORIST LAWS
When you’re in an accident, the party who is responsible for the accident should pay for your damages. All drivers in Colorado are required by law to have minimum amounts of insurance. But what happens when the driver at fault doesn’t have the required insurance? Will you be able to recover the compensation you need to recover fully? Do you need to work with a Colorado car accident lawyer? Here’s some frequently asked questions and what you need to know about uninsured motorist coverage in Colorado.
Bachus & Schanker Wins – Over $1 Billion Recovered
Colorado Uninsured Motorist law information for victims in Denver, Ft. Collins and CO Springs, Colorado.
Table of contents
- What is Uninsured (UM) or Under-Insured (UIM) Insurance?
- What Is Liability Insurance?
- How Does Uninsured Motorist Coverage Work in Colorado?
- What If the Person at Fault in My Car Accident Doesn’t Have Enough Insurance to Pay All of My Bills and Expenses?
- Who Will Pay for My Car and Medical Bills After a Hit and Run Accident?
- Why Is Uninsured Motorist Coverage Necessary?
- Is It Mandatory for Colorado Motorists to Carry Uninsured Motorist on Insurance?
- WHAT HAPPENS IF YOU GET CAUGHT DRIVING WITHOUT INSURANCE IN COLORADO?
- What Is “Setoff”?
- What Is “Anti-Stacking”?
- Can “Set-Off” And “Anti-Stacking” Be Used Together?
- Do I Need a Lawyer to Make a Claim for Uninsured Motorist Coverage?
- What Happens If I’m Injured in a Denver Uninsured Car Accident?
- UM Law Applicable to All Current Auto Insurance Policies
- Colorado Revised Statutes 10-4-609(c)
- Contact Our Denver Car Accident Lawyers
- Visit our Denver Office
- Related Uninsured Motorist Reading
What is Uninsured (UM) or Under-Insured (UIM) Insurance?
Uninsured motorist insurance coverage protects you if the at fault driver does not have any insurance or if they don’t have enough insurance to cover your damages. It is estimated that 16.2% percent of Colorado motorists are uninsured.
Uninsured motorist coverage gives you the confidence to know that you’re going to have your expenses paid even if the other driver doesn’t have mandatory car insurance.
The State of Colorado requires the following minimum coverages:
- $25,000 for bodily injury or death to any one person in an accident;
- $50,000 for bodily injury or death to all persons in any one accident; and
- $15,000 for property damage in any one accident.
Learn more about Colorado’s mandatory automobile insurance here.
What Is Liability Insurance?
Property damage liability coverage pays for the physical damage to the vehicle damaged in the accident by the at-fault driver. Bodily injury liability coverage provides compensation for car accident injuries.
How Does Uninsured Motorist Coverage Work in Colorado?
Uninsured motorist coverage works in Colorado by filling the gap between the other party’s insurance and your losses in an accident. For example, say you’re in an accident, and you have $30,000 in damages. The other driver has no insurance. But you have a $50,000 uninsured motorist coverage policy. Your policy covers the full $30,000 that you have in damages.The insurance also works if the other driver is underinsured. For example, You’re in an accident, and you have $75,000 in damages. The other driver has an insurance policy with a maximum limit of $50,000. Their insurance pays you the full $50,000 policy amount. You look to your uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage to collect the remaining $25,000 in damages. Your damages are covered in full.
What If the Person at Fault in My Car Accident Doesn’t Have Enough Insurance to Pay All of My Bills and Expenses?
If the person at determined to be fault for your car accident doesn’t have enough insurance to pay all of your bills and expenses, your own insurance policy may pay you directly. You can elect to have extra insurance coverage called uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage. It pays you in the event that the person at fault for your accident doesn’t have enough insurance to pay you fully. This is extra insurance that you select and pay for at the time you buy your insurance policy. In addition to collecting from your own uninsured/underinsured motorist insurance, you may be able to bring a lawsuit to collect directly from the party who is responsible for the accident.
Who Will Pay for My Car and Medical Bills After a Hit and Run Accident?
Your own uninsured motorist insurance policy will pay for your car and medical bills after a hit and run accident. If you elect uninsured motorist coverage, the insurance can step in when you have car and medical bills after a driver leaves the scene of the accident. In the event that law enforcement solves the hit and run, the person responsible may face criminal charges in addition to liability for your car and medical bills.
Why Is Uninsured Motorist Coverage Necessary?
Uninsured motorist coverage is necessary because, without it, a sudden accident can devastate you personally and financially. Too many drivers don’t have the insurance coverage that they need. Even drivers that have insurance may have far too little to fully compensate you for an accident. Basic liability insurance doesn’t cover you if the other driver doesn’t have insurance. Uninsured motorist coverage is the only way to ensure that you’re protected personally and financially when an accident occurs.
Is It Mandatory for Colorado Motorists to Carry Uninsured Motorist on Insurance?
No, it is not mandatory for Colorado motorists to carry uninsured motorist coverage. An insurer must offer uninsured motorist coverage to anyone who purchases car insurance.
However, it’s up to the driver to decide if they want uninsured motorist coverage or not. It’s always a good idea to have uninsured motorist insurance. Without it, there’s no payment for your losses if the party responsible for the accident doesn’t have the required insurance coverage.
What Happens If You Get Caught Driving Without Insurance in Colorado?
If you get caught driving without insurance in Colorado, you face a class 1 misdemeanor charge. The maximum penalty is 18 months in jail and a fine of up to $5,000. The state may assess points on your driver’s license and suspend it until you show proof of insurance.
Current Law Works to Protect Colorado Drivers
Colorado Revised Statute 10-4-609 closed previous loopholes in the law that prevented consumers from receiving the full benefits they thought they were buying when purchasing UM/UIM coverage in Colorado. All current Uninsured and/or Underinsured (UM/UIM) automobile insurance policy reflects these rules.
What Is “Setoff”?
Under previous insurance laws, your insurance company would be able to “setoff” or reduce the amount of UM coverage they would have to pay you by the amount of liability insurance available from the at-fault driver.
Example: Kendra was driving home from work and was hit by Josh after a night out drinking with his buddies. His blood alcohol level was above the legal limit and he was cited for driving under the influence. Kendra was severely injured and spent many months in the hospital and in rehab. She was unable to work during her recovery time and her medical expenses and lost wages totaled $250,000. Josh had insurance but his bodily injury liability policy limit was only $50,000. Kendra had purchased $200,000 in UM/UIM safety net coverage on her own policy.
Conclusion: Josh’s insurance company paid Kendra the $50,000 per Josh’s policy limits. Kendra’s insurance company was legally obligated to pay her the total of her UM/UIM policy limits of $200,000. Her total compensation was $250,000 which covered all of her medical expenses and lost wages.
What Is “Anti-Stacking”?
Prior to the current law, insurance companies could collect premiums for UM/UIM coverage on multiple policies covering multiple cars in the same household. However, they would not allow the policyholder to use these multiple coverages at the same time.
Example: Andrew and Samantha were both driving on the interstate when Samantha rear-ended Andrew’s car because she was distracted while talking on her cell phone. Samantha was uninsured. As a result of the Denver uninsured Car Accident, Andrew had medical expenses and lost wages totaling $250,000. In addition to his liability coverage, Andrew had purchased and paid premiums on three separate $100,000 UM/UIM policies for each of his three cars for a total of $300,000.
Conclusion: Andrew was able to combine or “stack” his three policies for a total of $300,000 which was more than enough to cover his $250,000 in medical expenses and lost wages.
Many Colorado insurance companies continued to sell multiple policies of UM coverage in a single household and continued to use and enforce “anti-stacking” provisions even after the Colorado Supreme Court ruled this essentially unnecessary in DeHerrera v. Sentry Insurance Company, 30 P.3d 167 (Colo. 2001).
In DeHerrera, the Supreme Court held that Sentry Insurance was incorrect in its reading of Colorado Revised Statutes 10-4-609. The Supreme Court instructed Sentry Insurance (and by implication all of the other insurance companies writing policies in Colorado) that UM/UIM benefits follow the person and not the vehicle. Additionally, the Court stated that one premium is sufficient to cover an entire family of drivers compared to one premium per car.
Can “Set-Off” And “Anti-Stacking” Be Used Together?
Previously, insurance companies could reduce your compensation by “setting off” and “anti-stacking” your compensation at the same time. The current insurance laws now prohibit that practice.
Example: Tony ran a red light and hit Connie, causing $250,000 in medical expenses and lost wages. Tony’s liability coverage was $50,000. Connie carried $100,000 in UM insurance and additional $100,000 UM coverage on her second car.
Conclusion: Tony’s insurance company paid Connie his policy limits of $50,000. Connie’s insurance company was not allowed to “setoff” this $50,000 and because Connie’s injuries were so severe, her insurance company paid the additional $100,000 in policy limits under the first UM policy paid to Connie. In addition, her insurance company is prohibited from using “anti-stacking” language in her policy and must pay her the additional $100,000 UM/UIM coverage from her second car. Connie’s total compensation is $250,000.
Do I Need a Lawyer to Make a Claim for Uninsured Motorist Coverage?
The insurance company wants to pay you as little as possible. A lawyer has the training and experience to help you get a fair payment for your uninsured motorist claim. They can manage your claim quickly and efficiently. In addition, your lawyer can help you value your claim. When you work with a lawyer, you don’t miss out on types of damages that you deserve under the law.
When you work with an experienced attorney, they handle the discussions with the insurance company. They know how to manage critical negotiations tactfully. With an attorney, you have a trained advocate who ensures that you reach the best possible result in your case.
What Happens If I’m Injured in a Denver Uninsured Car Accident?
If the at-fault driver doesn’t have insurance or does not have enough insurance, we look to your automobile insurance policy for compensation for injuries and losses. Under Colorado law, insurance companies selling automobile insurance in Colorado are required to sell Uninsured/Underinsured Motorist Insurance as part of every policy sold unless the coverage is specifically refused in writing. Uninsured or under-insured (UM/UIM) coverage is a separate coverage that provides coverage to you and your passengers if injured in an accident caused by an uninsured or under-insured driver.
This coverage “steps into the shoes” of the at-fault driver and pays you the same kind of damages you could have recovered from the at-fault driver’s insurance had the driver been insured. Uninsured motorist insurance coverage may be available to pay your claim if any resident in your household owns a car that has Uninsured Motorist coverage regardless of whether you were occupying the car at the time of the accident. In fact, your uninsured motorist coverage will even cover you if you are a pedestrian hit by an uninsured driver.
UM Law Applicable to All Current Auto Insurance Policies
- An insurance company may not set-off the amount of compensation from the at-faults bodily injury liability insurance coverage to reduce UM coverage available.
- An insurance company may not write into an insurance policy “anti-stacking” language. In this regard, your insurance agent will likely tell you that you will be able to save some money by dropping the additional premiums you have for each vehicle. Although you will save money, you will limit your coverage and limit your insurance company’s liability in the total amount of UM/UIM coverage they must pay if you are involved in an accident. In doing so, you will limit your safety net.
Colorado Revised Statutes 10-4-609(c)
“The coverage described in paragraph (a) of this subsection (1) shall be in addition to any legal liability coverage and shall cover the difference, if any, between the amount of the limits of any legal liability coverage and the amount of the damages sustained, excluding exemplary damages, up to the maximum amount of the coverage obtained pursuant to this section. A single policy or endorsement for uninsured or underinsured motor vehicle coverage issued for a single premium covering multiple vehicles may be limited to applying once per accident. The amount of the coverage available pursuant to this section shall not be reduced by setoff from any other coverage, including, but not limited to, legal liability insurance, medical payments coverage, health insurance, or other uninsured or underinsured motor vehicle insurance.”
Contact Our Denver Car Accident Lawyers
If you’ve been in an accident, contact our skilled Denver car accident lawyers for a free consultation about your claim. You may deserve compensation. Our aggressive attorneys can pursue your uninsured motorist claim with a strong, calculated legal strategy. An uninsured motorist claim is complex, but the team at Bachus & Schanker, LLC has helped thousands of clients just like you.
We are conveniently located at 5 Colorado locations near you in Denver, Fort Collins, Colorado Springs, Aurora, and Englewood. When you’re the victim of an uninsured or underinsured motorist, you’re not alone. Our attorneys fight on behalf of accident victims every day. Your call is free and confidential.
Visit our Denver Office
101 W Colfax Ave, Suite 650
Denver, CO 80202