Accidents happen.  But it’s often not until after an accident that a driver learns he/she did not have enough insurance to cover injuries and damage to the vehicles involved, if any.  In these unfortunate cases, drivers may be unable to pay their medical bills, or repair or replace their vehicle.

Many people assume that if someone else causes a collision, the at-fault driver will pay all of their medical expenses and repair or replace their vehicle.  But often this is not the case for various reasons.  Even if it is possible, it can take a year or longer to recover any money from the other person.  Additionally, although auto insurance is required by law, many individuals drive uninsured or underinsured (i.e. do not carry enough insurance to cover all damage caused by an accident).  Regardless of who is at fault for an accident, the consequences of one or both parties having insufficient auto insurance can be devastating.

Note: Undocumented immigrants qualify for auto insurance.  They may even qualify for California’s new low-cost auto insurance program, CLCA.

See for more information.

Protect Yourself with Auto Insurance—have the right types and amounts of coverage: 





Covers your vehicle for physical damage (after your deductible) even if you are at fault. ·     Not required, but you may be left without an operating vehicle if, for example, you are struck by an uninsured/underinsured driver.·     The amount of coverage you purchase should reflect the value of your vehicle.


Bodily injury liability covers injuries you cause to others in an accident.  Property damage liability covers damage you cause to other vehicles in an accident.At least $15,000 per person and $30,000 for all people in a collision in bodily injury liability coverage, and $5,000 in property damage coverage is required by law. ·     If you cause an accident, your personal assets are at risk in a lawsuit.·     Therefore, if you have assets, (for example own a home or earn a good income) consider protecting those assets with additional liability insurance that exceeds the minimum amounts required by law.

Uninsured/ Underinsured Motorist

Uninsured/Underinsured Bodily Injury Motorist Coverage (UMBI) covers you, insured members of your household, and passengers in your insured car for injuries caused by an uninsured/underinsured driver.Uninsured/Underinsured Motorist Property Damage (UMPD) covers property damage you sustain by an uninsured/underinsured at-fault driver. ·     Not mandatory but very wise investments given the number of uninsured and underinsured drivers in the state.·     If you, your insured family members, or passengers are severely injured by another driver, having adequate UMBI coverage can be vital to obtain needed medical care.·     UMPD coverage is often essential to repair or replace your vehicle if it is worth more than $5,000 or if other vehicles are damaged in the accident.

Medical Payments (MedPay)

Covers medical expenses resulting from an accident for the policyholder and any passengers regardless of fault.  Also covers a policyholder who is injured while a pedestrian. ·   MedPay coverage even in a small amount, such as $1,000, can make a huge difference to someone injured in an accident who would otherwise be unable to afford medical treatment.·   Coverage of $5,000 to $10,000 or more is ideal.

Gap Insurance

Gap insurance protects you if your vehicle is totaled out and you owe more than it is worth to your lender. If you purchase a new vehicle, consider adding gap insurance to your auto policy in the unfortunate event that your vehicle is totaled out in the first few years of ownership.
If you are injured in an accident, contact an attorney as soon as possible.  Avoid making any statements to insurance companies.  Get all of the medical treatment that you need which you can afford.  If you cannot afford treatment, your attorney may be able to help you.

By Amy C. Johnsgard, Esq.


1140 South Coast Hwy. 101
Encinitas, CA 92024
Tel   760-942-8505
Fax   760-942-8515

Download this information here.

This content is intended for information purposes only and is not intended to solicit business or provide legal advice.  Your use of this information does not create an attorney-client relationship between you and Coast Law Group, LLP.  Feel free to contact us for a free consultation if you have been injured in an accident, but please do not send unsolicited confidential information unless and until an attorney-client relationship is formally established.