How Uninsured Motorist Claims Work
Colorado Springs Car Accident Injury Attorneys
In Colorado, every auto insurance agent must advise you of your option to purchase uninsured motorist coverage. This is the best insurance coverage you can buy to protect you and your family from irresponsible drivers who do not carry car insurance. Not only should you buy the minimum uninsured motorist coverage ($25,000) but you should carry the same amount of uninsured motorist coverage as you do liability limits coverage, because this coverage is for you. Thus, if you are carrying $100,000 in liability coverage, you should also carry $100,000 in uninsured motorist coverage. The added coverage doesn’t cost much at all, and it will provide you and your family the same protection from irresponsible drivers as you provide to others for your own carelessness.
Here’s how an uninsured motorist claim works. Let’s say that you were injured in an auto accident and you find out at the scene (or later) that the other driver was not insured. You will then contact your own insurance company to make an uninsured motorist claim. This claim will include both property and bodily injury damages. An adjuster will be assigned to your claim and will likely ask for a recorded statement from you as to how the accident happened. Then the adjuster will monitor your medical care and recovery and will ask you to sign medical or other releases so that the insurance company can obtain your medical records. The insurance company may also ask that you be evaluated by their own doctor. You are entitled to claim for the same compensation from your uninsured motorist coverage as you would from the other driver: economic losses (medical bills, lost income, etc.) and non-economic losses (pain, mental stress, inconvenience, etc.). The adjuster will evaluate the claim based on how careless the other driver was (and your own conduct, if it helped to cause the accident) as well as your injuries and damages and make an offer to settle the claim under the uninsured motorist coverage. The most that can be offered is the limit of coverage that you purchased for uninsured motorist coverage.
If you don’t agree with the adjuster’s offer on your claim, you must look to the provisions of the insurance contract to see what the next step may be. Some policies provide that the dispute as to the amount of benefits owed must be resolved through an arbitration; others provide that the benefits can be arbitrated only if both the insurance company and you agree to arbitrate the dispute, and if there is no such agreement, you must file a lawsuit to have a judge or jury decide the amount of benefits you are owed. In Colorado, either a demand for arbitration or a lawsuit must be filed within 3 years of the date of the accident, or the claim will be barred.
If you have uninsured motorist coverage, you also have under-insured motorist coverage. Here’s how this coverage works: Let’s say you were in a serious car accident and the other driver only has the Colorado minimum policy limits of $25,000. The other driver’s car insurance wants to pay you the policy limits of $25,000, and you can accept those limits and make an excess claim against your own uninsured/under-insured motorist coverage up to the limits of the coverage that you purchased. So, if you purchased $100,000 in uninsured/under-insured motorist coverage, you can ask your insurance company for permission to accept the $25,000 from the other driver and then be able to claim an additional $75,000 from your own coverage for your injuries. (You have to ask permission to settle because your insurance company may want to sue the other driver directly.) The rest of the claim is handled just the same as an uninsured motorist claim with your insurance company.