Underinsured and Uninsured Claims
Last Updated on March 29th, 2011
Uninsured and underinsured insurance claims (UM/UIM) are a type of first-party insurance dispute claim that aims to protect you if you are involved in accidents with uninsured or underinsured drivers. The basis for UM/UIM coverage can be found in the Uninsured/Underinsured Motorist Statute under the Texas Insurance Code and in the UM/UIM clause of the Texas Personal Auto Liability Policy.
A number of motor vehicle accidents involve uninsured and underinsured motorists and a number of UM/UIM cases are brought to court every year. There are also a number of issues involving UM/UIM insurance litigation that remain unresolved in the Texas court system.
The Texas Uninsured/Underinsured Motorist Statute, under the Texas Insurance Code, governs UM/UIM coverage. Article 506-1 of the statute was originally enacted in 1967 to provide protection for insured against uninsured motorists. The statue was subsequently amended in 1977 to include protection for insureds against underinsured motorists. Article 506-1 protects conscientious individuals from financial loss caused by negligent and financially irresponsible drivers. The purpose of the UM/UIM coverage is to protect insureds that are legally entitled to recover damages from owners or operators of uninsured/underinsured motor vehicles. In summary, if say a person were in an automobile accident where they were hit from behind by an uninsured/underinsured motorist, that person is entitled to the money which would pay for the damages to his/her vehicle.
The Texas Insurance code requires a minimum of $30,000 in UM/UIM coverage to be offered in every automobile liability policy issued in the State of Texas. The minimum amount is set forth by statute in the Texas Motors Safety Responsibility Act and will be provided as a matter of law unless the named insured expressly rejects the coverage in writing. In a recent decision, the Texas Supreme Court found that the spouse of a named insured may properly reject coverage for all insureds. The court found that “named insured” included the insured name in the policy declarations and “that individual’s spouse, if a resident of the same household.” An insured may purchase additional coverage up to the actual amount of bodily property injury coverage contained in the policy’s liability overage or an insured may reject such coverage altogether.
The costs of medical treatment have soared, as have the costs related to repairing and replacing damaged automobiles. When an at-fault driver causes an accident but does not have a sufficient amount of liability insurance, if you have purchased optional Underinsured Motorist Coverage (UIM), you have the right to file a claim with your own insurance company for any damages over and above the at-fault driver’s policy limits up to the amount of UIM Coverage you have purchased. UIM Coverage protects you in the event that an at-fault driver who causes you injuries (ranging from soft-tissue injuries to broken bones) and damages does not have enough liability insurance to pay for your losses. These losses may consist of wages, medical bills, pain and suffering, and other non-economic injuries.
For example, if you suffered a back injury in an accident and your medical expenses total $40,000, but the at-fault driver has only a $30,000 liability insurance policy, if you have purchased UIM Coverage in the amount of $50,000, then there would be an additional $50,000 in coverage available to pay towards your damages, which would be an additional $10,000 in medical expenses, plus any lost wages or pain and suffering damages, up to $50,000.
Austin Underinsured and Uninsured Claims Attorneys
If you were involved in an accident in Texas, we’ll be happy to mail it to you (together with a host of other free stuff.) You can either email us, call us at (512) 246-9191, or fill in the form to the right.