Oklahoma law requires every motorist to carry auto insurance, but some people refuse to comply. You might think that being involved in an accident with one of them is a long shot. But think again: A study by the Insurance Research Council in 2011 found that about one out of four Oklahoma motorists were not insured, while the national average was one out of seven.
Oklahoma legislators have taken several steps to provide a disincentive for would-be uninsured motorists:
- The 2011 No Pay, No Play law bars uninsured drivers involved in a crash from collecting non-economic damages (i.e., pain and suffering) from an at-fault insured driver.
- A new law passed this year allows police officers to remove the license plate of a motorist caught driving without insurance. The license plate will not be returned until the driver buys insurance and pays all fines and fees.
What if you are injured in an accident caused by an uninsured driver? The outcome will have been determined well before the crash — when you bought your insurance. If you bought uninsured motorist (UM) coverage, your own insurance company steps in to compensate you. Oklahoma insurers are required to offer you UM coverage, but you do not have to take it. Your options are:
- Buy UM coverage equal to your bodily injury liability coverage (recommended)
- Buy the minimum UM coverage —$25,000 for person and $50,000 per occurrence
- Buy any amount of UM coverage between the minimum and an amount equal to your bodily injury coverage
- Buy no UM coverage at all
Clearly, the last option is not the best, as it could leave you with no compensation if you are injured by an uninsured motorist. The statute that governs UM coverage requires that the form provided by your insurance company must say — in capital letters — THE COST OF THIS COVERAGE IS SMALL COMPARED WITH THE BENEFITS!
If you are involved in a crash with an uninsured driver, you should consult an automobile accident attorney about your options.