Oklahoma had one of the highest percentages of uninsured motorists in the country, tying for the third-worst place with Florida and Tennessee at 24%. Though the number of uninsured drivers has decreased significantly since then, the percentage is still high, with recent statistics ranking it as the 18th worst state at 13.4%. What this means is that for every seven drivers on the road, one is uninsured, a situation that exposes other motorists to the risk of losses in the event the driver causes an accident.
Normally, uninsured motorist (UM) coverage is issued together with liability coverage, though one can opt-out through writing. But with the ever-apparent danger of crashing with an insured motorist and the potential repercussions, it’s always recommended to maintain uninsured motorist coverage. In this post, we discuss all the basics one needs to know about UM in Oklahoma.
What Is Uninsured Motorist Coverage?
Uninsured motorist coverage (UM) is auto insurance that covers medical expenses if a motorist or their passengers are injured in an accident caused by an uninsured driver. Since the policy covers only bodily injury (does not compensate for property damage), it’s also known as uninsured motorist bodily injury (UMBI) coverage.
Besides the medical bills, UM can pay for funeral expenses (in case of fatal injuries), pain and suffering damages, and lost wages. For any property damage suffered, you may need to claim the costs of car repair or replacement against your collision coverage.
In Oklahoma, a motorist can also use their UM coverage if a hit-and-run or underinsured driver caused the accident.
While the latter is an individual product, usually known as underinsured motorist (UIM) insurance, it’s often packaged with UM, which is the case in Oklahoma. However, to use UM in this case, the underinsured motorist’s policy must have paid its maximum coverage first.
UM is issued alongside general auto insurance, but it’s still optional. The applicant can decline the coverage in writing, though it’s not recommended as the risk of getting crashed by an uninsured/underinsured/hit-and-run motorist is always present. In such an eventuality, one would be forced to pay the medical expenses out-of-pocket if they or any of their passengers got injured in the accident.
Legal Requirements for Obtaining Uninsured Motorist Coverage in Oklahoma
To obtain uninsured motorist coverage in Oklahoma, the driver must have the minimum auto insurance. The minimum policy, often expressed as 25/50/25, covers $25,000 for bodily injury or death of one person, $50,000 for bodily injury or death per accident, and $25,000 for property damage.
There’s also a limit on the minimum UM one can take, which should be the same amount as the bodily liability coverage. For instance, if the liability is 25/50, the UM should be $25,000 for one person’s physical injury or death and $50,000 per accident.
A UM coverage pays for personal injuries to the policyholder, family members who live with them, and other passengers injured while riding in the insured car when the uninsured/underinsured/hit-and-run motorist causes the accident. Also, the policyholder and family members who live with them are protected if the accident happens while riding in any vehicle or as pedestrians.
Understanding Your Policy Options
While the minimum policy required is 25/50, the medical bills and other related losses can exceed available coverage, especially if multiple people covered under the claimant’s UM got injured in the accident. For this reason, experts always recommend maintaining a liability limit of at least 100/300, i.e., $100,000 for bodily injury or death per person and $300,000 for bodily injury or death per accident.
Another option available is stacking if the insurer allows it. Stacking increases the UM coverage available depending on the number of insured vehicles. For instance, if a person has two cars, they can insure them under one policy (vertical stacking) or take individual policies for each car (horizontal stacking). However, to enjoy the benefit, the policyholder must sign up for stacking from the get-go and not when the accident happens because it requires paying higher premiums than a conventional policy.
Oklahoma allows horizontal stacking, meaning one can combine multiple policies from insured vehicles in their name. For instance, if the policy holder has UMBIs of $50,000 for two cars, they can claim up to $100,000.
Tips on Choosing the Right Policy for You
As mentioned earlier, UM policy should match the bodily liability coverage, which cannot be lower than the minimum required 25/50 or higher than the maximum limit one is allowed to maintain. With that in mind, here are tips to consider when choosing the right policy.
- Buy maximum cover one can afford – It’s always recommended to extend one’s auto insurance above the statutory limits, as severe injuries can escalate the damages above the payable coverage. In other words, one should buy the maximum cover they can afford to minimize the chances of paying medical expenses out-of-pocket in case they sustain severe injuries after a hit-and-run/underinsured/uninsured motorist causes an accident.
- Research widely – One should search for trusted third-party reviews to learn more about customer experiences. Friends and family can also provide helpful recommendations based on their personal experiences with various providers.
- Compare prices from multiple providers – It’s important to ask for quotes from a few of the top choices to compare their plans and prices. Generally, the cheapest provider might not necessarily be the best; hence it’s advisable to compare the price vis-a-vis the benefits of each plan based on gathered information from the research.
With the high rate of uninsured and underinsured motorists on the roads, maintaining UM coverage is essential to protect oneself from financial losses resulting from accidents caused by them. In addition, UM policy can cover damages from hit-and-run crashes if the liable driver cannot be tracked. Generally, UM policy should match the bodily liability coverage. Though the statutory minimum limit is 25/50, it’s always advisable to maintain the highest cover one can afford, as damages from such an accident can exceed the payout available under the minimum coverage. Stacking insurance is also a good strategy if the insurer allows it, as it can help increase the payout. Contact us or call us at 918-359-6600 for a free consultation.