Every automobile policy in Illinois, and in many other states, has coverage for an uninsured and an underinsured motorist claim.
An uninsured motorist claim arises when an insured has an accident with another who has no insurance. It can also arise when the other driver is denied insurance by his insurance company or when the insured driver is involved in a collision with a “hit and run” driver.
An underinsured claim arises when an insured has an accident with a motorist who is not adequately insured. It can also arise when multiple claimants exhaust the liability coverage of an insured motorist.
As an example of an underinsured claim, presume you have 100/300/50 coverage. That means you have insurance up to $100,000.00 for each individual injured, up to $300,000.00 for all individuals injured, and $50,000.00 for property damage. Presume also, that the other driver has the Illinois minimum required, that is $20,000.00 for each individual injured and $40,000.00 for all individuals injured. So, if your injury exceeds $20,000.00, under your underinsured motorist provision your insurance company covers you up to the limit of your policy, $100,000.00. Your insurance does not pay an extra $100,000.00, it pays the difference between the underinsured motorist’s coverage and your policy limit. Thus, you are always insured up to the limit you insure others.
Dealing with an insurance company can be frustrating and difficult. This is no less true when dealing with your insurance company on an uninsured or underinsured claim.
Additionally, there are special rules that apply when making a claim against your own insurance company that do not apply when dealing with the other driver’s insurance company. For example, when you intend to make a claim against the other driver’s insurance, you file a lawsuit against the other driver. When making a claim against your own insurance company, the policy will dictate that you engage in arbitration. Arbitration is a technique for the resolution of disputes outside of court. You have up to two (2) years to file a lawsuit against the other driver. Most insurance policies provide you only have one year to make an uninsured or underinsured claim with your insurance company.
Obviously, then, any time you believe you have an uninsured or underinsured claim you want to make it against your insurance company immediately. You may not know within one year whether your injuries will exceed the limits of the other driver’s insurance, but you still must make a claim against your insurance company within one year.
Bottom line, any time you think you have an uninsured or underinsured motorist claim, you are in need of an experienced aggressive attorney. Call us.