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What is Underinsurance Motorist (UIM) Coverage and How Can You Protect Yourself in the Event Defendant's Insurance Coverage is Insufficient to Make You Whole for Your Injuries and Damages Arising from an Auto Accident?

James approaches an intersection on a green light when suddenly another vehicle comes flying into the intersection running a red light.  The vehicles collide with terrific force.  James has searing pain in the neck.  His worse nightmare had just been realized.  His neck is broken.  James is transported to the hospital by ambulance, and upon arrival he is prepped for emergency surgery to undergo a fusion of 3 vertebrae in his neck.   

Unfortunately, Defendant’s insurance coverage falls far short of being able to cover James' medical expenses.

Do you have Underinsurance Motorist Coverage?

Underinsurance Motorist (UIM) Coverage is insurance coverage that provides a plaintiff with an additional tier of insurance over and above the bodily injury coverage of the defendant that covers the plaintiff if defendant’s insurance coverage is insufficient to make the plaintiff whole for the injuries the plaintiff receives as a result of a motor vehicle collision.

There are two types of UIM coverage. The most common of which calculates the available UIM coverage by taking the difference between your UIM policy limit less the amount of defendant’s available coverage for bodily injury (BI). For example, in this scenario, if the Defendant has $25,000.00 of bodily injury coverage, and the Plaintiff has $100,000.00 of UIM coverage, the amount of available UIM coverage would be $75,000.00 ($100,000 - $25,000.00). If the Defendant’s bodily insurance coverage is $25,000.00 and Plaintiff’s UIM coverage is $25,000.00, the available UIM coverage would be $0.00.

A second type of UIM policy is simply coverage over and above the Defendant’s policy limit for bodily injury. In that case, if the UIM policy limit is $100,000.00 and the Defendant’s coverage for bodily injury was $25,000.00, Plaintiff’s coverage for UIM would be the full $100,000.00 over an above the Defendant’s coverage. This is a rare scenario these days, but there are a minority of policies that have this type of coverage.

You should talk with a competent insurance agent {or agents) and get competitive bids for UIM coverage.  In today’s world, it doesn’t take much to rack up $100,000 or more in medical expenses particularly if your stay in the hospital is extended or involves an admission to the Intensive Care Unit (ICU).

When prosecuting a claim for UIM benefits, the process begins with the preparation of a skillfully prepared demand letter that includes a statement of the claim and all supporting documents that support the claim for damages including, but not limited to, past and projected medical expenses; lost wages, salary, income and benefits and/or the loss of future earning capacity; any other out of pocket losses or expense, incurred or projected; and general damages for, inter alia, pain and suffering, diminution in the quality of life and capacity to enjoy life and loss of consortium if applicable.

In Idaho, if a demand is prepared and delivered to the UIM insurance carrier, and the UIM carrier is given 60 days to consider the demand before suit is filed, the Court may impose an award of attorney fees against the UIM carrier if the verdict acquired thereafter is greater than the tender made by the UIM carrier before suit is filed.

Albeit, in Idaho, the statute of limitations for an adult (barring any extenuating circumstances that would toll the running of the statute of limitations) is two years from the date of the collision against the driver responsible for the cause of the collision; the statute of limitations for an adult (barring any similiar extenuating circumstances) is five years from the date of the collision for filing an action for UIM benefits.  The reason for the longer statute of limitations in the case of your claim for UIM benefirs is that by law the action against the UIM carrier is one for breach of contract which provides for a longer statute of limitations than that of a typical tort claim.

But since the recollection of witnesses fade with time, it is wise for you to consult with an experienced trial lawyer as soon as possible following a collision who is well versed in UIM law.  An experienced trial attorney will be able to advise you as to when the statute of limitations will accrue and/or expire in your case and also take whatever action necessary to preserve your legal rights and remedies pertaining thereto.  Furthermore, experienced counsel will be able to assist you in preparing the written demand letter and supporting documents to the UIM carrier. By doing so, this would also help preserve your claim for reasonable attorney fees in connection with the UIM claim if the carrier refuses to negotiate in good faith.

There are few things in this life that are free, but a free initial consultation with Boise Personal Injury and UIM Attorney Alan Morton is one of them. Call him at 208.344.5555; toll free at 888.716.8021 or complete the online form at http://www.mortonlawyers.com to schedule a free initial consultation. Check out the client testimonial page at http://www.mortonlawyers.com/testimonials.cfm. A phone call may provide you with the information you need to protect your legal rights and remedies!


Alan Morton
Advocate for Justice/Trial Lawyer