Oftentimes, Uninsured and Underinsured Motorist Coverage and the way in which it applies to motor vehicle claims are an unknown and confusing aspect of insurance policies. Today’s article will answer some common questions regarding UM and UIM coverage.
So what exactly is UM and UIM Coverage? Colorado law requires every automobile owner in Colorado to maintain insurance on their vehicle. However, this does not necessarily mean that every individual follows that legal requirement. If a person does not have car insurance and causes a motor vehicle accident they will be deemed “Uninsured Motorists.” Furthermore, if the driver who caused an accident is insured, but does not have enough coverage to pay for all of the injuries caused in the accident they are deemed an “Under-Insured Motorist.”
Now that we have discussed the basic definitions of an uninsured and underinsured driver, what happens if you are injured by an Uninsured or Under-Insured driver? If you carry UM or UIM coverage on your personal auto insurance policy, you can utilize that coverage in a situation where the at-fault driver doesn’t have insurance, or does not have enough insurance.
In Colorado, unlike many states, insurance companies are required to sell Uninsured/Underinsured Motorist Insurance as part of every policy sold unless the coverage is specifically refused in writing. UM/UIM coverage “steps into the shoes” of the at-fault driver and pays you the same kind of damages you could have recovered from the at-fault driver’s insurance had the driver been insured.
If you have rejected UM/UIM coverage on your personal policy you should always check the policies of people who you are living with. UM/UIM insurance coverage may be available to pay your claim if any resident in your household owns a car that has UM/UIM coverage regardless of whether you were occupying the car at the time of the accident. In fact, your uninsured motorist coverage will even cover you if you are a pedestrian or bicycle rider hit by an uninsured or under insured driver.
If you have been injured in a motor vehicle accident by an individual who is uninsured or under-insured, you have a right to make a claim through your personal auto policy under your UM/UIM coverage clause. If your insurance company refuses to promptly and/or fairly pay your claim you may have grounds to file a bad faith insurance action against them. Your insurance company may be acting in “Bad Faith” if they fail to:
- Promptly investigate your claim
- Promptly pay your claim
- Communicate regularly with you regarding the status of your claim
- Promptly pay you any undisputed portion of claim
- Provide a prompt and reasonable explanation of any claim denial or offer compromise settlement
If your insurance company has acted in bad faith on your claim you may also be entitled to interest on those benefits, attorney fees, costs of filing a lawsuit against the insurance company, punitive damages (damages designed to punish the insurance company for their wrongful behavior), and other damages.
The firm of Larson Larimer Schneider is currently available to handle a wide variety of claims including motor vehicle accidents and insurance bad faith claims. If you have claims that you need assistance with, call (303) 622-5858 or fill out the Larson Larimer Schneider contact form.