The State of Washington requires all drivers to carry auto liability insurance and proof of auto insurance, however, some drivers may not have enough insurance coverage to pay for all property damage and injuries caused, or they may choose to drive illegally without auto insurance. In the unlikely event you're involved in an auto accident with an uninsured or underinsured driver, here's what you need to know:
- If there are injuries, immediately call 911 and request emergency assistance.
- Never leave the scene of the accident without calling the police, even in a minor accident where there are no visible injuries.
- Document as much information as possible about the accident, the other vehicle and the other driver. If you have a cell phone with a camera, take pictures of the vehicle damage without interfering with police and emergency responders.
- If your auto policy includes uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage, you can file a claim with your own company. Your collision and personal injury protection coverage will also cover your loss for damage to your car and any reasonable and necessary medical bills.
- Uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage may also be used to help pay for damage and injury caused by a hit-and-run accident or a phantom vehicle, and you may have a lower deductible under these circumstances. A phantom vehicle is one that causes injury or damage without making physical contact, such as a car swerving into your lane and causing you to crash to avoid it. Please note, you must report a phantom vehicle accident to the police within 72 hours if you're making an auto insurance claim.
- If your auto policy doesn't include uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage, you'll need to rely on other coverage you might've bought, such as collision coverage to pay for your damaged car or personal injury protection for any injuries related to the accident.
- If you don't have any of these coverages, you'll need to pay for repairs, medical bills (unless you have health insurance), and maybe a rental car. You may then personally pursue the at-fault party directly to recover your costs.