By: John A. Shega/Owner/Aspire Insurance Agency
We have to quit meeting this way.
Earlier this summer I was entering an on-ramp to the southbound lane of 169 near Milaca. A tractor-trailer ahead of me was moving slowly as the on-ramp was on an incline. As we merged onto 169, the tractor-trailer moved to the right and towards the shoulder of the road. I interpreted this as a gesture for me to pass. As 169 curved to the right, I slowly veered to the left behind the trailer and peered into the left hand lane before passing. Just then I realized why the tractor-trailer had moved over. A car sped past me in the left lane (a right lane to the car)!!
Last week and one mile south of Cotton on highway 53, I was returning to our office in Gilbert after meetings in Duluth. It was dusk, so most cars had their lights on. This time I was driving in the left lane of this four-lane highway. From the north, this freeway gradually curves to the right. This meant I could see the headlights from the on-coming cars. At a certain point, it occurred to me there were three sets of headlights south. I turned the radio down, decelerated and tried to comprehend the situation. Could it be three cars in the the southbound lane, two cars in the southbound lane and one in the median, or …oh no, it was a car, again, traveling in the WRONG DIRECTION! Because of the gradual curve, it now took a moment to clarify which lane this car was traveling in. It soon became apparent it was traveling in my lane and that we were headed for a head-on collision, unless one of us changed lanes – and quickly I surmised that the oncoming car probably thought they were in ‘their’ right lane so, I moved to my right lane and then the shoulder of the road. The car passed me and continued south. I called 911 and they were already aware of the situation.
So, what happens if the at-fault driver does not have car insurance or limits sufficient to cover injuries or death? That is what underinsured and uninsured automobile coverage is intended to address. Simply, one purchases these coverage’s on their own policy to compensate for the inadequacies of other drivers.
Uninsured Automobile Insurance- Coverage for bodily injury or property damage incurred by an insured when the accident is caused by a motorist who is not insured.
Underinsured Automobile Insurance- Coverage for bodily injury or property damage incurred by an insured when the accident is caused by a motorist who is not sufficiently insured.
Most carriers will only provide these two coverage’s up to the limit of liability on one’s own automobile insurance. So, if the liability limit(s) (damage or injury you cause to others) on your policy is $50,000, the highest limit for underinsured and uninsured will be $50,000.
Correct or not, I believe the odds are much greater that someone else will cause an auto accident with me versus me causing the accident. I also believe the chances are high that they will not have sufficient limits of insurance to cover the ensuing injury, death or damage. For those reasons, I purchase higher liability limits only so I can purchase the higher limits of underinsured and uninsured limits of liability.
The driver in each of the situations above probably believed they were correctly in the right lane. In both cases they were definitely, ‘in the right,’ but also definitely wrong- almost deadly wrong.
A popular saying states, “By failing to prepare; one prepares to fail.” Higher limits of uninsured and underinsured automobile policy give me a peace of mind during my travels. I will always be on guard for the other driver.
We have to quit meeting this way.