You entered the intersection on a green light. Suddenly, and without warning, you’re in a collision. Your vehicle is spun around 360 degrees, coming to rest against a telephone pole. You’re un- conscious. You’re bleeding. Your life is in jeopardy. An ambulance arrives at the scene and rushes you to a lo- cal hospital. You begin the process of recovery from your devastating injuries. The silver lining is that you have health insurance for the $50,000 in hospital bills you incurred. The dark cloud is that the driver who ran the red light and slammed into you had only $15,000 of liability coverage on his car insurance policy, the mini- mum amount required under Cali- fornia law. If you are that accident victim, count yourself fortunate if you had an insurance agent who prudently advised you to purchase a minimum of $100,000 of Uninsured Motorist (UM) coverage on your auto policy. This UM coverage will be applicable to this situation as the other driver was underinsured for the damage he caused you. UM covers both situa- tions where the other driver is either uninsured or underinsured. You have a deductible on your health insurance between $1,000 and $10,000 that you would have to pay out of pocket for the medical care you received in the hospital, plus ongoing out of pocket expense for co-pays, doctor visits and medi- cation. You also absorb wage losses due to your accident-related injuries. It hardly seems fair that you are paying out of pocket when your inju- ries were caused by someone else’s negligence, but that is what Cali- fornia law dictates. The negligent driver’s insurance company does not have to make any payments to you until you are ready to resolve the en- tire case with them. In this scenario, you likely will receive an eventual offer after you retain an attorney. And that likely will be the $15,000 limit for which the negligent driver is insured. Yet, even if you accept the offer, you won’t receive a payment until the negligent driver’s insurance company reviews and scrutinizes all your medical records, bills and proof of lost wages. At best, the $15,000 settlement to which you agree will enable you to recover your out of pocket expens- es. However, you must still contend with your health insurance provider as they have the right to seek reim- bursement from you from the money you received from the other driver’s insurance carrier. Thus, you have not been made whole for your out of pock- et losses, nor have you been compen- sated for your pain, suffering, emo- tional distress and inconvenience. This is where UM coverage comes into play. Your UM insurance carrier will “step into the shoes” of the other driver and pay you up to $85,000.00, the difference between the $100,000 UM coverage you purchased and the $15,000 you recovered from the other drive. Or if you purchased $250,000, rather than $100,000, in UM coverage and collected $50,000, rather than $15,000, from the neg- ligent driver, you would have the potential of collecting an additional $200,000 from your carrier. Another item a driver might be ad- vised to purchase with their auto in- surance is called medical pay bene- fits or MEDPAY. It provides between $1,000 and $100,000 to pay medical bills up to the amount of coverage a policy holder purchases, regardless of fault in event of an accident. It also covers every occupant of a vehicle. Thus, if you are the negligent driv- er who ran the red light, you and all your passengers could have all out of pocket medical expenses paid by your MEDPAY coverage. That’s why it is a wise precaution to purchase UM coverage. It’s well worth the protection and it actually is more affordable than most consumers think. Especially considering it also covers hit and run collisions and acci- dents with uninsured motorists. In fact, roughly 15 percent of Cal- ifornia motorists are uninsured, ac- cording to a 2014 study by the Insur- ance Research Council (IRC). And another 11 percent of the state’s drivers are underinsured, ac- cording to a 2014 report by the Com- monwealth Fund. That so many motorists on Cali- fornia’s freeways and roads are unin- sured or underinsured has been at- tributed by some to AB 60, the Safe and Responsible Driver Act, which requires the California Department of Motor Vehicle to issue driver’s licenses to undocumented immi- grants who can prove their identi- ties, have established California resi- dency and pass driving exams, It has been estimated that AB 60 added 1.4 million licensed drivers to California’s highways over a three- year period. Of those, at least some percentage of those newly-licensed drivers are either uninsured or in- sured for the legal minimum $15,000 in or underinsured. There needs to be consideration of a cost of living increase for minimally required auto insurance. But, until then, it would be wise to speak with an insurance agent and go over the issues of UM coverage and MEDPAY and take the steps to protect yourself and your family with these valuable coverages.