More on Uninsured and Underinsured Motorist Coverage
One of the more typical topics of conversation with my clients within our automobile accident practice here in the East Valley of Phoenix, Arizona, is exactly what coverage did they buy? Most clients have owned the same insurance coverage for years and a surprising fact is that most do not even know what they have been paying for, for all these years.
This is not meant as a criticism because most people rely on their insurance agents to advise them on appropriate coverage and then simply follow that advice. That is understandable because insurance can get quite confusing.
If you have been following along in this series of blogs, you already have a basic understanding of Uninsured and Underinsured Motorist Coverage – these protect you if you are injured by someone who does not carry any automobile insurance at all or only carried the State minimum coverage of $15,000.00. So, if you hurt you neck and back or suffer other injury like broken bones or scars and cuts, including lost wages, you have taken the time, and spent the money, to protect you from unseen harm.
One thing I neglected to mention about “UIM” coverage last time is that the coverage moves with you, it does not just follow your vehicle or any particular car. This means, if you are walking down the street, and a car runs you over – your UIM coverage is in effect and follows you as you walk. It is personal insurance like health insurance.
Likewise, if you are in someone else’s car and you are injured as result of the negligence of the driver of the car you are riding in or the driver of another vehicle, again, you are covered by you UIM insurance. Now, your insurance may not be the primary insurance for the accident because the driver of the car you are riding in has insurance OR the driver of the other vehicle has adequate insurance to cover your injuries. But if they do not, your Uninsured or Underinsured Motorist Coverage saves the day by adding another level of protection.
Further, if the driver of the vehicle you are riding in has UIM insurance, you are also covered under that policy as well. Uninsured and Underinsured coverage applied to riders in a car as well as the driver and owner of the policy.
all of these different insurances, the at fault drivers liability coverage, your driver’s Underinsured coverage and your own Underinsured coverage can be combined to afford you much greater protection than you thought you had! Which comes as a great and surprising relief to many of my severely injured clients.
There is one other difference between Uninsured and Underinsured Insurance coverage – your relationship with your own insurance company. You see, when you are negotiating with a liability insurance carrier, which is insurance belonging to an at fault driver, you have no relationship with that insurance company – what is called “privity of contract.” The liability carrier has one job – to protect its insured and try to keep him or her from getting sued, up to the limits of their policy. Since you have no contractual relationship the liability carrier has no obligation to deal with you in “Good Faith.” They can make a low ball offer and stick to it – one that you think is completely unfair – leaving you no option but to file a lawsuit. And, that lawsuit can only involve the value of your injuries, not the aggravation of the low ball offer.
On the other hand, if you are making a claim against your own insurance company for “UIM” benefits, because your are “In privity” with your own insurance company, it has an “affirmative duty” to deal with you in goof faith. If they do not, you can sue them for additional damages for failing to act in good faith.
Since there is this extra layer of exposure, most Gilbert Uninsured or Underinsured insurance claims, when they are made by what is called a “first party insured” (meaning the owner of the policy – the named insured on the policy) most of claims go fairly smoothly and settle a little higher than straight liability claims. At least, that is my experience to date.
So, you can see that these claims can get quite sophisticated and you are best served by having a more experienced Gilbert personal injury lawyer on your side. Contact Marco Injury Law today to learn more about our personal injury and bankruptcy services.
Daniel Marco – Marco Injury Law
1166 E Warner Rd #101
Gilbert, AZ 85296
Email: [email protected]