Underinsured Motorists

The Law and You

Uninsured and underinsured motorists: They’re out on the roads, and if they cause a collision, you could be the one who pays.  According to the Insurance Information Institute (III), about one out of every eight drivers is uninsured. Many other drivers have insurance, but not nearly enough to cover expenses for hospital stays and other losses if they cause a collision.  They are “underinsured” motorists.  Here in Oregon, for example, the $25,000 statutory minimum amount of liability insurance can be used up in the first day of hospitalization and surgery.

In Oregon, every auto insurance policy is required to include Uninsured (“UM”) and Underinsured (“UIM”) coverage. In addition to the protection that UM or UIM coverage should provide after a collision caused by an identified negligent driver, UM coverage could also help in the event of a hit and run where the identity of the negligent driver is unknown.

While auto insurance companies sell coverage intended to protect people from  uninsured and underinsured drivers, they often fight paying the full amount needed to fairly cover the injured person’s harms and losses.  People commonly make the incorrect assumption that because they paid premiums for years, “their” insurance company will treat them fairly.  In practice, seeking recovery under a Uninsured or Underinsured motorist policy is an adversary proceeding.

Understand Your Rights in Dealing with Insurance Companies

Your insurance policy is a written contract between you and your insurance company, so you have contractual obligations when you make a claim after a collision. If an uninsured or underinsured motorist injures you, your insurance company may disagree that you are entitled to insurance benefits, or dispute the amount you are entitled to receive.

Disputes over uninsured and underinsured motorist claims may be resolved either through arbitration or through the court system, depending on the circumstances.  The choice of arbitration or the courts is an important one, and an experienced and qualified personal injury attorney can help with that key decision.