Accidents happen. All the time in fact. So frequently that we buy all varieties of insurance to protect ourselves against them. If you are reading this, then chances are you bought automobile insurance. You bought the insurance to protect your car. You bought it to protect yourself against liability in case you hurt someone else. You bought it for peace of mind. If that is not enough, you bought it because it is the law.
If you are smart you probably also bought Underinsured Motorist Insurance. Unfortunately, you probably didn't buy enough. The sad truth is when you have an accident in New Mexico, the odds are that the other driver is grossly underinsured, or has no insurance at all. This does not mean they are bad people. It simply means that many New Mexicans cannot afford auto insurance yet necessity dictates that they drive.
What does this mean for you? It means that you need to buy all the underinsured insurance you can. In fact, when you have an auto accident, this is likely the only insurance that will protect the most valuable asset you can insure, your health. Even more, underinsured motorist coverage is the only real bargain you will ever get through your insurance company. It is such a bargain that the law requires insurers to get a signed waiver of underinsured coverage from purchasers of auto insurance in order to decline coverage. Let me repeat that, the insurance company must have you actually sign a document stating that you do not want the coverage. Any time an insurance company tries to talk you out of spending money, you should ask yourself why? The answer is simple, it's cheap to you and expensive to the insurance company. This is especially true in a state like New Mexico which leads the nation in uninsured motorist. One in four New Mexico drivers has no auto insurance.
It is surprising how often our clients have voluntarily waived underinsured coverage. They did not understand exactly what it was. They most certainly underestimated its importance to their future health. More often than not, the lack of underinsured coverage has been devastating to their recovery. You can bet the motorist that just plowed into the back of car has no insurance. He has no money. He has no insurance, and if you bought the generosity of your insurance agent in reducing your monthly bill, you have no coverage either.
You cannot predict an accident. But you know that they happen all the time. Chances are you or a family member will be involved in an auto accident at some point in your life. There are over 6 million auto accidents each year in the country. Of these, over 2.5 million are rear end collisions accounting for almost half of all auto accidents. There are close to 500,000 spinal cord injuries each year. You guessed it. The leading cause of spinal cord injuries, 35% of the total, involved auto accidents.
Have you priced spine surgery lately? Probably not but you probably know you cannot afford it. You should also know the guy that just rear-ended you cannot afford it either. He has no auto insurance for a reason. He has no money. But you do, and you a wise investment would be underinsured. In fact, if you have it already, get more. You may not ever need a life-vest in the deserts of New Mexico, but just in case, keep one in your trunk.
Collins & Collins, P.C.
Albuquerque, New Mexico