Dodge the Uninsured Motorist Blues
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Though your business is unlikely to sustain the kind of property damage that the Blues Brothers cause in their mall chase scene, it is not immune to the risk of an accident with an uninsured or underinsured driver.
While 49 states require drivers to have auto insurance, that requirement has not prevented uninsured drivers from hitting the road. The Insurance Research Council estimates that one in seven drivers (13.8%) is uninsured nationally.
The percentage of uninsured drivers varies widely by state. Massachusetts boasts the lowest uninsured driver rate in the union at 4 percent. But you cannot bank on this as we have a fair number of out-of-state drivers in our area. And we live close to New Hampshire, the one state that does not require auto insurance (Live Free and Without Auto Insurance).
Moreover, two in seven drivers are underinsured. This means that they have purchased only the state mandated minimum insurance requirements for bodily injury liability and property damage. In Massachusetts, these limits are $20,000 for bodily injury to one person injured in an accident, $40,000 for all persons injured in one accident, and $5,000 for property damage from that accident.
These limits are often insufficient to cover medical expenses and property damage, and they make no provision for pain and suffering or lost wages should those apply.
Many businesses in Massachusetts choose to insure their fleet for the minimum uninsured motorists limit mandated by law. This tactic reduces costs and makes some sense because employees are covered by workers compensation coverage for medical costs and a percentage of lost wages. In some respects, uninsured motorist coverage is “double coverage”.
An important exception to this rule is the commercial vehicle that is driven by an employee, the business owner or a business owner’s family member during non-work time. Workers compensation does not provide coverage to injuries sustained in an accident occurring during non-work hours. We often find business owners want this additional protection for their employees with company provided cars or for their family who may use the company car on the weekends or evenings for personal use.
I encourage you to check your policy and give us a call if you have questions about your uninsured or underinsured motorists coverage.