Underinsured Motorist Coverage
Underinsured motorist coverage is an important aspect of a comprehensive motor vehicle insurance policy. Included in every motor vehicle insurance policy is a clause specifying the underinsurance coverage for that vehicle. Uninsured motorist coverage will protect you if you are in an accident where the total damages exceed the policy limits of the vehicle at-fault. Without underinsured motorist coverage, you could be left with unpaid medical bills, vehicle repair bills, and lost wages if you are injured by someone carrying the legal minimum of liability coverage. It is advisable to protect yourself and your family by having more than the bare minimum of underinsurance coverage. A savvy auto accident attorney will know how to assist you in pursuing a claim against your insurance carrier for losses not covered by the at-fault driver’s policy. Kenneth J. Annis & Associates have the experience and skill to utilize underinsured motorist coverage to get you the largest possible settlement.
Generally speaking, underinsured motorist coverage differs somewhat from uninsured motorist coverage. Underinsurance provides coverage for an injured party when the person who caused a car accident does not have enough insurance to cover the full amount of damages. The injured party’s insurer is responsible for providing underinsurance coverage. For instance, the minimum vehicle policy limits mandated by law in most states is known as 20/40. This means the other driver’s insurance company is liable to cover $20,000 per person but no more than $40,000 per occurrence. Thus, if you suffered injuries exceeding $20,000 in damages, then you would look to your own insurance company to cover the rest.
Underinsured motorist policies will have a minimum amount of coverage that can be purchased, such as $20,000. However, a driver may purchase additional underinsurance coverage from an insurer. Purchasing more than minimum coverage is wise because you will have more protection if you are involved in a serious accident. Determining when a person is underinsured may be difficult. Some states allow injured parties to “stack” insurance policies to calculate the amount of insurance available to determine underinsurance. Some states prohibit such an arrangement. Most states, however, look to the language of the actual policy in question. Courts will look at whether the language in the policy is clear and unambiguous to determine the extent of the underinsurance coverage. In some states, the issue is controlled by statute. A personal injury attorney experienced in handling underinsured motorist claims is therefore vitally important to help you with your claim.
Claims become much more complicated when multiple insurance companies or policies are involved. For instance, a husband could be injured when driving his wife’s car. His wife’s insurance policy for that car includes underinsured motorist coverage. What if the underinsured motorist limits on his car are higher than his wife’s? Can he turn to his insurance company and seek coverage for underinsurance from both policies? The answer depends on several factors. Factors to be considered are the type of insurance, whether both cars are on the same policy, whether one pays a premium on the other policy. Most insurance policies are written to prohibit stacking of policies in this fashion.
Insurance companies are in the business of making money. An insurance company turns a profit when the amount of money in claims paid out is less than the amount of money paid by their customers for insurance. It is a fairly simple equation. Insurance companies will attempt to narrowly construe their insurance contracts to limit their exposure, so they have to pay out less money in damages.
Successfully pursuing an underinsured motorist coverage for your claim depends on many complicated legal factors. Therefore, your success in obtaining adequate coverage for your injuries depends upon the quality of your representation. If you or a loved one were injured by an underinsured driver, Kenneth J. Annis & Associates would work hard to win you the compensation you deserve. Call Kenneth J. Annis & Associates today at 202-785-2244 to schedule your free consultation.