Underinsured Motorists

The Law and You

Underinsured motorists. They’re out on the roads, and if they cause an accident, you could be on the hook for payment! According to the Insurance Information Institute (III), about one out of every eight drivers is uninsured. What’s worse, many more drivers possess insurance, but not nearly enough to cover expenses for hospital stays and damages if they are involved in an accident.

Insurance companies have options for consumers to purchase “extra” coverage to protect themselves from an uninsured or underinsured driver, but rarely do they accept and pay the claims owed to the injured party.

We’ve previously explored a case where a major insurance company left their policyholder out to dry after he caused an accident, leaving him to foot the bill for thousands in medical costs for the injured party.

Insurance companies sometimes use unsavory business practices to protect their bottom line, and lawmakers are beginning to recognize the liability involved when insurance companies don’t protect their paying customers.

In Oregon, every insurance policy requires that the company provide Uninsured or Underinsured coverage. In addition to the protection that UM or UIM coverage affords during an accident with another party, the uninsured coverage could also protect you in the event of a hit and run where you are unable to identify the other driver.

Understand Your Rights in Dealing with Insurance Companies

Your insurance policy is a written contract between you and your insurance company, so there may be contractual obligations you have to follow when you file a claim after an accident. If an uninsured or underinsured motorist injures you, your insurance company may disagree on the amount you are entitled to receive from the other driver. This is where arbitration clauses could come into play.

The insurance company may choose to settle the dispute through an arbitrator, someone other than a judge or the jury, who will work with both parties to reach an amicable solution.

If there are still disagreements between yourself and the insurance company, you may be able to sue the insurance company. When choosing between arbitration or taking the insurance company to court, always seek out legal expertise before moving forward.