Uninsured/underinsured motorist (UM) coverage comes with all Louisiana auto insurance policies unless the purchaser rejects it in writing. The coverage protects drivers when they are in an accident caused by a uninsured or underinsured driver.
What UM Covers
UM covers pain and suffering, medical costs (past and future) and lost wages (past and future) related to the accident. However, “Economic Only UM” covers accident related costs like medical expenses and lost wages, but not general damages like pain and suffering.
Med Pay coverage can be purchased in addition to UM or without UM. Med Pay pays for accident related medical bills, but your insurance company will have a right to seek reimbursement from the defendant driver’s insurance company; the seeking of reimbursement is called subrogation. It is important to check your policy’s language regarding Med Pay exclusions. For example, some policies exclude Med Pay coverage when the insured driver or passenger was working at the time of the accident.
How UM Works
UM will apply when an uninsured or underinsured driver hits you. For instance, if you have 15/30 UM and are wrongfully hit by an uninsured motorist, you can recover up to $15,000.00. The amount of the $15,000.00 you recover will depend on the extent of your injuries, medical bills and lost wages. If you have passengers in your vehicle, each passenger will be able to recover up to $15,000.00 in UM. However, your insurance company will never be liable for more than $30,000.00 of total UM per accident. If you carry 25/50 in UM, the limit per person is $25,000.00 per accident never to exceed $50,000.00 in total payout per accident. Common Louisiana UM limits are 15/30, 25/50, 50/100, 100/300 and 250/500.
You can also use UM when a driver that is underinsured injures you. For instance, if you are wrongfully hit by a driver that carries 15/30 of bodily injury (BI) liability limits and you carry UM, you can make a claim on your UM to the extent that your damages exceed $15,000.00.
You can purchase UM in an amount not to exceed the bodily injury (BI) liability limits that you carry on your vehicle. For instance, if you carry 100/300 in BI liability, you can carry UM coverage up to a maximum of 100/300. 100/300 UM means each person in your vehicle is protected with a maximum of $100,000.00 in UM per accident, and the total payable to all occupants per accident will not exceed $300,000.00 per accident.
You can also carry less UM than BI liability limits. For instance, you could carry 100/300 in BI liability but only 50/100 in UM. However, you cannot have UM limits greater than your BI liability limits.
UM covers you as the driver and your passengers at the time of the accident. UM also follows you when you are not in your vehicle. For instance, if an uninsured motorist hits you while you are jogging, you can make a claim for UM against your insurance company as long as you carry UM on a vehicle you own.
You can also make a claim on your UM when you are an occupant in someone else’s vehicle. For instance, if you are a passenger in vehicle that does not carry UM and are wrongfully hit by an uninsured motorist, you can make a claim on your UM as long as you carry UM on a vehicle you own.
Consulting with an Attorney
Consulting with an attorney before making a UM claim is always advisable. UM insurance law is complex, and in some cases an injured victim can make a claim on two UM policies. Furthermore, even though UM coverage is purchased through your own insurance company, making a claim for UM creates an adversarial relationship between you and your insurance company. Your insurance company is going to want to pay as little as possible for your UM claim. Thus, it is important to have a champion fight on your behalf.
Furthermore, insurance companies write their own UM policies. What one insurance company covers in UM may be different than another company’s UM policy. And some exclusionary clauses in UM coverage may be against public policy and, thus, void. Accordingly, an experienced attorney should review UM clauses in your insurance policy to know what protections are in your favor and what exclusions apply or are illegal.
Time Limit to Make A UM Claim
You have two years from the date of accident to either settle a claim for UM or file suit against your insurance carrier. This time limit is one year longer than the time limit you have to file or settle your claim against the driver that caused your accident—i.e., 1 year. Typically, your UM carrier will not agree to pay any portion of UM coverage until you have proved that you have exhausted the limits of coverage carried by the driver that caused your accident.
“Unconditional Tenders” of money by your insurance carrier as UM payments serve as acknowledgements of your UM claim. Unconditional tenders may extend the time that you have to settle or file your lawsuit passed the two-year mark. But you should not assume that you have more than two years without retaining an experienced attorney.
If you have suffered injury from an automobile accident and have questions about UM coverage, contact Law Office of Donald D’Aunoy Jr., LLC today for a FREE consultation: 1000 Veterans Blvd #203, Metairie, LA 70005, Phone: 504-508-6414. Speak directly with an attorney. Attorney Donald D’Aunoy Jr. offers FREE house calls to personal injury clients throughout southeast Louisiana, including Algiers, Amite, Avondale, Belle Chasse, Bogalusa, Boutte, Chalmette, Covington, Cut Off, Destrehan, Edgard, Franklinton, Galliano, Gretna, Hammond, Harahan, Harvey, Houma, Jefferson, Kenner, Laplace, Lacombe, Larose, Luling, Lutcher, Madisonville, Mandeville, Marrero, Marrero, Morgan City, Montegut, New Orleans, Norco, Patterson, Pearl River, Ponchatoula, Prairieville, Raceland, River Ridge, Slidell, St. Rose, Thibodaux, Tickfaw, Westwego. Mr. D’Aunoy is well reviewed on sites such as Avvo and Facebook.