You can buy uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage as part of your auto insurance policy to protect you in a motor vehicle crash caused by another driver who is uninsured or underinsured. This means they have not purchased any auto insurance or don’t have enough insurance to cover your costs. A common abbreviation for this type of coverage is UM/UIM insurance.
The purpose of UM/UIM coverage is to protect you from financially irresponsible drivers who when they hit you, you are in your car, in another car, or you are a pedestrian. According to a spokeswoman for Allstate Insurance Company, “Accidents are unpredictable. Uninsured motorist coverage can help reduce the financial impact to you of being injured in an auto accident caused by someone who doesn’t have auto insurance.”
Motorists in Nevada are required to have automobile insurance, even though the Insurance Research Council estimated that 13 percent of Nevada drivers were uninsured in 2009. This compares to a high in Mississippi of 28 percent and a low in Maine and Massachusetts of 4 percent. In April 2011, the number of uninsured motorists across the country was about one in seven. The research council said that the recession was thought to “be a major factor” accounting for the high number.
UM/UIM pays for medical care for your injuries when you are hit by an uninsured or underinsured driver. This type of coverage also pays for your lost income if your injuries prevent you from returning to work. If you were hit by a hit-and-run driver and expenses are paid by your UM insurance. If you are hit by an uninsured or underinsured motorist and have medical expenses, your UM/UIM coverage will pay for those costs. This insurance will pay for those expenses before your health care coverage does.
In most instances, it is wise to buy UM/UIM insurance, because if you don’t have this type of insurance and are hit by a driver who has no liability coverage, your only recourse is to go to civil or small claims court to try to recover your losses. But, even if you consider this option, it will often prove fruitless since drivers without insurance may lack the money to reimburse you.
Insurance Bad Faith
As is the case with all insurance purchases, when you pay for insurance you are taking the chance that you may never need it and trusting your insurance company to compensate you fairly if you do.
Therefore, it is especially exasperating when an insurer acts in bad faith. This could happen if a Nevada auto insurance company from which you bought UM/UIM insurance acts in bad faith by making it difficult for you to be fairly and promptly compensated. The company might use delaying tactics or refuse to pay, hoping you will give up your fight for fair compensation.
Some reasons your insurer might give for not paying are:
• You submit a UM/UIM claim, but in fact find out the other driver actually does have insurance.
• The driver of your vehicle is specifically prohibited from driving your car, such as a young teenager driver you expect will not be driving it.
• Your coverage is discontinued because you didn’t meet the deadline for payment.
• Damage to your car is more than the amount your policy allows you to be reimbursed.
• Your car insurance company is simply making a mistake that needs to be pointed out.
Other reasons for challenging an insurance company’s failure to pay in an appropriate and timely manner include:
• The company did not tell the truth about your coverage when you bought it.
• The company didn’t provide you with an adequate written reason for not paying.
• When you tried to communicate with them, they kept delaying their reply.
• The company made changes to your policy without your consent or knowledge.
Regardless of the reason for your insurer refusing to pay a claim, if you disagree with the decision, you have the right to question the company. Proving that an insurance company acted in bad faith can be difficult and time consuming. It is important to consult an attorney with experience in insurance bad faith claims who has the knowledge and the resources necessary to go after even the largest insurance companies.
Schedule a Consultation with Mr. Sharp
To schedule a consultation with a lawyer who has a proven record of success, contact Matthew L. Sharp today. He represents individuals in Reno and throughout the state of Nevada in insurance claims involving auto insurance companies. He knows the laws and is not afraid to challenge even the largest, most well-known insurance companies. To find out if you have a claim, contact our law office today.