• Caleb Meriwether

Uninsured Motorist Coverage Matters

If you are like me, your eyes glaze over when your insurance agent starts talking about the uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage provided in your auto policy (“UM/UIM”). Generally, UM/UIM provides coverage for you in the event that you are in an accident that is caused by a driver with no insurance or with insurance liability limits less than those of your own UM/UIM coverage.

The recent case of White v. State Farm, W2019-00918-COA-R3-CV, illustrates the importance of UM/UIM coverage. Keireon Smith caused an accident with Sidney and Mardess White. Smith had a 25k/50k policy. The Whites had 100k/300k in UM /UIM coverage. Smith’s insurance company agreed to pay his policy limits to the Whites – 25k to each of them. Because the Whites had more UM/UIM coverage than what was available from Smith, they were each then able to attempt to recover an additional 75k from their insurer, State Farm. So, instead of only having 25k each to cover their medical bills, lost wages, property damage, etc., the Whites had up to 100k,  the 25k from Smith and 75k from State Farm. Unfortunately for the Whites, it appears their was an issue with the notice they gave to State Farm regarding their UM/UIM claim, and they may have trouble collecting the money from State Farm. UM/UIM claims are tricky. They are covered by statute and have very specific steps that must be followed. It is almost as if you are suing your own insurance company for damages caused by a third party – it’s very odd. Insurance companies do not simply pay UM/UIM claims as a matter of course. You must still prove your case. I would strongly suggest seeking legal counsel if you have a UM/UIM issue.

Why couldn’t the Whites just pursue Smith’s personal assets? They could. But there is always the threat that Smith would file bankruptcy. And it is much easier, usually, to simply puruse the UM/UIM coverage.

Try to avoid zoning out the next time your agent starts to explain and discuss UM/UIM coverage. It provides you with an additional layer of protection and funds in the event that you are involved in a bad accident with an uninsured or underinsured driver.

ASK YOUR AGENT IF YOUR PERSONAL UMBRELLA POLICY OFFERS UM/UIM COVERAGE. Not all personal umbrella policies offer increased UM/UIM coverage, but there are some that do.

LEGAL JARGON DISCLAIMER: The foregoing is not legal advice. Even if you construe it that way, it’s probably only worth what you paid for it. I am an attorney but am not yours.

Whether you are a Haven client or not, I’m always available to discuss.