The Issue: More Travel, More Crashes
In March of 2022, the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA) released an overview of motor vehicle crash data in 2020. While the total number of police-reported crashes was down 22% from 6,756,084 to 5,250,837, the number of fatal crashes increased 6.8% from 33,487 to 35,766. The decreased in total police-reported crash is to be expected since in 2020 we were in the middle of the Covid-19 pandemic and many lockdown requirements were in place. In 2020, people traveled less, but as those lockdown restrictions have been lifted and people get antsy from being at home so long, it’s likely that the amount of travel on our roadways has and will greatly increase, and with more travel comes more accidents. Already in May of 2022, the NHTSA has released estimates showing record numbers for traffic fatalities in 2021, reaching a 16-year high as it is estimated that 42,915 people died last year in motor vehicle accidents (a 10.5% increase from 2020).
According to the NHTSA report for 2020, 38,824 people died on U.S. roads, 2,282,015 people were injured, and 5,215,071 non-fatal crashes occurred. If you breakdown those numbers, that comes out to about 14,000 crashes a day across the U.S. That’s almost 600 crashes every hour. With those kinds of numbers, you better believe it’s best to have the right coverage in place, and that means having more than just the required minimum.
In a recent study conducted and released on March 22, 2021 by the Insurance Research Council (IRC), they found that 1 out of every 8 drivers (12.6%) are uninsured in the United States. In some states, the percentage of drivers driving without insurance is higher and in some states it’s lower. On top of this startling fact, many states have minimum liability insurance requirements that are relatively low. In Texas, the minimum insurance required for injury claims is $30,000 and in Oklahoma, it’s $25,000.
Texas & Oklahoma Residents are Particularly at Risk
As detailed in many of our other articles, blogs, and FAQs, your own auto insurance policy may provide you with additional coverage if the driver who hit you doesn’t have any insurance or doesn’t have enough insurance to cover all your damages. This is called uninsured motorist (UM) and underinsured motorist (UIM) respectively. The amount and type of coverage you have depends on what you purchased as part of your auto insurance policy.
In both Texas and Oklahoma, UM/UIM are not required. However, your auto insurance company must offer them to you. Because it’s not required, many people opt out of this coverage, which is a mistake because it is relatively cheap and can provide you with the extra protection you need out on the road. We recommend that you get these coverages as they come in very handy, and we believe they are must-haves when it comes to auto insurance. We’ve seen too many cases where victims of accidents were in situations where the person who caused the accident didn’t have enough insurance to cover all their bills and unfortunately, they didn’t have any UM/UIM coverage either.
The Solution: Purchase More UM / UIM Coverage
We know, we know, just one more thing to purchase, but keep in mind, we are not trying to sell anything to you. All we are doing is offering you advice and guidance based on our experience over the years representing accident victims, so that you can be aware of all your options, and you can make the best decision for yourself. Too many times we have seen situations where clients had less than what they expected or didn’t have this type of coverage at all when they really needed it.
The best solutions to protect yourself and your family is to review your current auto insurance policies and coverages and buy as much UM/UIM as you can afford. Everyone is cautious in increasing their monthly payments, but you should be aware that increasing your UM/UIM coverage ten times does not result in ten times increased in your premium. Rather, sometimes for as little as $100 a year, you can increase your UM/UIM coverage from the minimum to $100,000 or more. This minor investment can be extremely beneficial for you and your family in the future.
So, if you are sitting with just the minimum, please call your insurance agent and ask for quotes to increase liability and UM/UIM. You might be surprised by how much added coverage you can get for relatively moderate increases in your premium.
For more information regarding personal injury, download a free copy of our book, The Traveler’s Guide to the Universe of Personal Injury. If you have any questions or if you or anyone you know has been injured in an accident, please call us at 940-569-4000 or fill out the contact form to set up a free, confidential, no-obligation consultation. We will provide you with a free evaluation of your case and offer you helpful guidance even if you don’t hire us.