You are currently viewing Uninsured and Underinsured Motorist Cases (UM/UIM)

Uninsured and Underinsured Motorist Cases (UM/UIM)

Have you been hit by an uninsured motorist?   Have you been in a wreck with a hit and run driver?  If so, you may be able to make an Uninsured Motorist claim.

Handling Uninsured and Underinsured Motorist claims is a major focus of Thomas A. Herald, P.C. practice.   Thomas A. Herald is a frequent lecturer and writer for legal seminars across the State of Texas on developments in the law in the area of Uninsured/Underinsured Motorist Claims sometimes referred to as UM or UIM claims as well as bad faith litigation against insurance companies.   The law in this area is extremely complex and is full of traps for those who try to handle their own claims without the help of an experienced attorney.   You need a lawyer that knows how to navigate this very complex and tricky area of law and that will fight the insurance company to recover the money damages you deserve.  

What is an Uninsured or Underinsured Motorist Claim and how do I know if I have that coverage available to me?

What is an Uninsured Motor Vehicle?

An Underinsured Motor Vehicle is typically a vehicle
1. To which a liability bond or policy applies at the time of the accident but its limit of liability either:
    a. is not enough to pay the full amount the covered person is legally entitled to recover as damages; or
    b. has been reduced by payment of claims to an amount which is not enough to pay the full amount the covered person is legally entitled to recover as damages.

Some vehicles are never considered to be an “uninsured or underinsured motor vehicle.”   Generally those include:

  1. Vehicles owned by the insured that are not listed on the policy;
  2. Vehicles owned or operated by a self-insurer;
  3. Government-owned vehicles unless the operator of the vehicle is uninsured (for example fire engines, and police vehicles and school buses are vehicles that are usually not going to be considered as uninsured motor vehicles);
  4. Vehicles that operate on rails or crawler treads;
  5. Vehicles designed mainly for use off public roads while not on public roads (for example, ATV vehicles usually fall into this category of vehicles);
  6. Vehicles located for use as a residence or premises.

What is an Underinsured Motor Vehicle?

An Underinsured Motor Vehicle is typically a vehicle:

  1. To which a liability bond or policy applies at the time of the accident but its limit of liability either:
  2. is not enough to pay the full amount the covered person is legally entitled to recover as damages; or
  3. has been reduced by payment of claims to an amount which is not enough to pay the full amount the covered person is legally entitled to recover as damages. 

How do I know if I have Uninsured/Underinsured Motorist Coverage?

There are several ways you can find out if you have Uninsured/Underinsured Motorist Coverage.

  1. You can call your insurance agent and ask if you have UM/UIM coverage and if so how much coverage you have on your policy.
  2. You can look at the Declarations Page to your insurance policy.   The declarations page should list all of the coverages that you have on your policy.   Look for language such as: “Bodily Injury Uninsured/Underinsured Motorist Coverage.” Sometimes the policy will abbreviate the terms Uninsured/Underinsured Motorist as “UM/UIM.  The Declarations Page will also show if you have Uninsured/Underinsured Motorist Coverage for Property Damages;
  3. Contact Thomas A. Herald, P.C. and we will help you determine what coverages you have available to you.

Additional sources of uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage

In addition to any Uninsured and Underinsured Motorist Coverage you may have available to you under your policy, if you were occupying someone else’s vehicle at the time of the accident, you may also be entitled to recover UM/UIM benefits under that insurance policy if there is such coverage.

What if you thought you purchased UM/UIM coverage, but the coverage is not listed on the Declarations Page and the agent says the policy does not contain that coverage?   

You may still be entitled to recover Uninsured Motorist or Underinsured Motorist benefits if you did not reject the coverage in writing.  Under the Texas Insurance Code §1952.101

“An insurer may not deliver or issue for delivery in this state an automobile liability insurance policy, including a policy provided through the Texas Automobile Insurance Plan Association under Chapter 2151, that covers liability arising out of the ownership, maintenance, or use of any motor vehicle unless the insurer provides uninsured or underinsured motorist coverage in the policy or supplemental to the policy.” 

However, the coverage required by this law does not apply if any insured named in the insurance policy rejects the coverage in writing.   It is the burden of the insurance company to prove that you rejected the coverage in writing.   If the insurance company cannot prove that you rejected the coverage, then your insurance policy includes uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage.