Underinsured Motorist Cases
Underinsurance coverage, or what is commonly known as “SUM” coverage, (Supplemental Underinsurance coverage) is an often vital aspect of automobile insurance coverage which many drivers are unfamiliar with, or worse yet, are specifically advised by their insurance brokers not to obtain. (Brokers are protecting the insurance company from claims and tell the client that they will pay a smaller premium). SUM coverage comes into effect when a driver or passenger in a car is injured in an accident through the negligence of another vehicle, which is inadequately insured. For example, if the liability limits of the wrongdoer’s car are less than the SUM limits of the injured person’s vehicle, an underinsurance claim can be pursued.
At The Law Office of Mark A. Siesel in White Plains, we often represent clients in underinsurance claims against their own insurance companies. To give an example, if the driver of the negligent car has the minimum liability limits of $25,000, and our client has a $100,000 SUM limit with their own insurance carrier, we can pursue a claim on the client’s behalf for $75,000; the $100,000 SUM limit of the client minus the $25,000 liability limit of the other car, which must be subtracted. It is critical that you retain attorneys who are knowledgeable and experienced in litigating underinsurance claims, as there are several requirements which must be met to pursue the claim.
To begin with, since underinsurance claims must be submitted soon after the accident occurs to avoid a “late notice” defense from your insurance company, it is often necessary to submit the claim prior to learning the extent of the insurance coverage of the wrongdoing vehicle. Further, there are various specific requirements as to how the claim must be submitted, for example, only by certified mail. An underinsurance claim is only viable if the SUM limits are greater than those of the other driver. If they are the same, or the other car has more insurance coverage than your underinsurance limits, there is no underinsurance claim. Further, an underinsurance claim can only be made if the other car offers its entire policy limits in settlement first.
In the prosecution of an underinsurance claim, the client’s own insurance carrier takes on the role of an adversary, despite the fact that the client has been paying his or her insurance company premiums for the underinsurance coverage. Your carrier is entitled to conduct “discovery”, including an “examination under oath”, which is essentially a deposition in which the client is asked numerous questions about the accident, their injuries, their medical treatment, and their activities of daily living. Additionally, your insurance company is permitted to send you to physicians of their choosing to determine the extent of your injuries, despite the lack of objectivity of these medical examinations.
If you suffer injuries in a motor vehicle accident, contact the White Plains Personal Injury Lawyers at the Law Office of Mark A. Siesel online or call us for a free consultation to discuss your case in detail and your legal options.