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Victims of hit and run, uninsured or underinsured motorist situations may be better off than they think

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Responsible drivers who have been in a hit and run, and are dealing with an uninsured (UM) or underinsured (UIM) motorist claim, may be better off than they think. Drivers who carry uninsured or underinsured motorist coverage are entitled to recover money damages for personal injuries from their own insurance company.

What is an underinsured motorist claim?

An underinsured motorist claim is a situation where another driver causes injury and does not have enough insurance to cover all the damages. For example, a driver causes injuries and only has 15/30 minimum coverage while the injuries may generate medical bills exceeding $20,000. If the injured party carries Uninsured Motorist (UM) limits over 15/30 he or she may file an underinsured motorist claim with their own insurance company. Drivers who have 50/100 limits, are entitled to an additional $35,000 of additional coverage from their own insurance company.

A commonly asked question is “Won’t this increase my premiums?” The answer is NO. Insurance Code Section 491 states the only way an insurance company can raise a driver’s rates are for moving violations or at fault accidents. Most importantly, a UM or UIM claim takes the driver’s case out of the court system and puts it into the arbitration (single judge) system.

Insurance Code Section 790.03 (h)(5) requires the insurance company to give the driver claim equal rights to their own interests. If they do not, there may be a claim for bath faith. (See 790.03(h)).

An Insurance Policy is a Contract

An insurance policy is actually a contract that is pre-negotiated and requires mutual cooperation. The insurance company cannot use oppressive tactics and lengthy litigation procedures. This is not the case when a person is making a claim or suing another person’s insurance company. Insurance companies in these cases can insist on a jury trial and spend lavishly and drag the case out. In the UM or UIM context, the insured driver can seek and likely get a hearing in six months.

The Arbitrators Know the Case Value in Advance

Arbitrators can see through insurance company gamesmanship to give fair compensation. Most hearings take just one or two days. The rules of evidence are easier and the atmosphere more focused on the value of the case.

Bill Kuziara has 35 years’ experience and has had several million dollar jury verdicts. He has handled hundreds of arbitration cases with excellent results. Call now for a consultation. Know your rights!

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