Uninsured car accidents on the rise?

LOS ANGELES In car-crazy California, body shops like /*Marina Auto Body*/ keep very busy, but it's the last place a motorist wants to take their car. And that trip can feel a lot worse if you've been in an accident with a driver who has no insurance.

"That's my biggest fear," said accident victim Judy Levy. "Being involved in an accident with someone who doesn't have insurance, or doesn't have enough insurance."

Judy is one of those unlucky drivers who was rear-ended by someone without insurance. Even though Judy wasn't at fault, it looked like she was going to have to pay the entire bill to repair her car; something she couldn't afford at the time.

"Who has an extra $500, $1,000 sitting around?' Oh yeah, sure, let me just pay this to a body shop. I have nothing better to do with it,'" said Judy.

Unfortunately, the /*Insurance Information Network*/ says with today's economy, the chances of being hit by an uninsured motorist are intensifying.

"The unemployment rate goes up 1 percent, there's almost the same correlation of a 1 percent increase in uninsured drivers," said Pete Moraga, Insurance Information Network.

Fortunately Judy had something in her policy called /*uninsured motorist coverage*/ that covered her loss. Uninsured motorist coverage is an elective when buying automobile insurance, as is rental car coverage.

"I had to wait to get my car fixed to make sure that I could borrow my parent's car, or a friend's car," said Judy. "And that's just another inconvenience."

Experts say you should have uninsured motorist and rental car coverage.

Experts also say you should do the following if you are in an accident:

  • Be sure to get the license plate number of the vehicle
  • Write down the name, address and driver's license number of the driver
  • Notify your insurer
"The more information you have, the better off you're going to be when you actually file that claim," said Moraga.

You may also want to carry a camera with you if your cell phone doesn't have one. That way you can take photos of the accident scene.

If you only have liability insurance, uninsured motorist insurance has another advantage. It will cover your passengers and their medical expenses if they are injured in the accident.


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