Consumers pay for underinsured motorist coverage (UIM) in their auto policies. They do this in case they are involved in an accident with another motorist who doesn’t carry enough insurance. However, the coverage may be less than you believe.
Underinsured Motorist Coverage May Not be What You Think
A Missouri Court recently a case in which a woman was a passenger in friend’s car. The accident happened in late 2009. The court found she could not recover any UIM coverage from her policy (written by Farmer’s Insurance Company). The car that struck her did not have sufficient insurance. The woman sustained severe injuries. The negligent driver’s liability insurance paid the victim the limits of his coverage. However, she did not receive enough to compensate for her injuries. She settled with her friend’s insurance company (he also had UIM coverage). Unfortunately, her own insurance company denied her claim for the remainder of the damages.
Sadly, the court found her Farmer’s Insurance Company auto policy had an exclusion. The policy stated she was ineligible for UIM coverage if the vehicle in which she was riding was owned by someone else and had any amount of UIM coverage. However, because it was not her vehicle and the driver did have UIM coverage, she could not collect from her own insurance company for the remaining uncovered losses. The woman filed a lawsuit against Farmer’s based on reasonable expectations of coverage and what she saw to be “ambiguities” in the policy. However, Farmer’s denied that. The courts agreed with Farmer’s and enforced the policy exclusion.
Ironically, if the car she was riding in had no UIM coverage, or had she been a passenger in her vehicle, she would have been eligible to collect $250,000. Unfortunately, the woman had paid premiums for a UIM protection policy providing limits of $250,000 per person/$500,000 per occurrence yet was unable to use it.
What to do?
Most consumers either do not read the contents of their automobile insurance policies or do not understand the terms or conditions of the policy. Also, many insurance providers act in “bad faith,” and wrongfully deny payment of claims. Finally, to protect your right have your automobile policy reviewed by an experienced attorney. Often, insurance companies refuse to pay a claim without a legitimate or reasonable basis frequently. They claim the terms of your automobile insurance policy exclude coverage. To protect yourself speak with a Kansas City attorney skilled and experienced litigation against insurance companies. Before hiring a lawyer you may want to see our article about how to hire an injury lawyer.