Insurance Policy Information
Under Missouri law, you have an obligation to read your insurance policy carefully and to make sure that the coverage provided is what was requested from your agent. Have you actually read your insurance policy? Do you know what coverages it provides? Are you certain that you will be covered properly if you are involved in a serious accident?
Typically, if you are involved in an accident, your auto or homeowners policies will be involved. The following information will help you understand some of the basic coverages available to you.
Missouri has a mandatory insurance law, the Missouri Motor Vehicle Financial Responsibility Law (MVFRL), which requires that all motorists in Missouri maintain coverage on their vehicles in the minimum amount specified in the MVFRL. The amount currently required is $25,000.00 per person and $50,000.00 per accident. These numbers mean that, in the event of an accident, the car at fault will have available $25,000 for each person injured up to a maximum of $50,000 to be shared among everyone hurt in the accident.
These limits have not changed since 1987. Given the ever increasing cost of medical care, these amounts are very low, especially if more than one person is hurt in the accident. It is important that you contact an attorney immediately if you are involved in an accident to determine the coverages available to you and to make sure that you receive a fair share of the proceeds available.
UNINSURED MOTORIST COVERAGE
Unfortunately, many drivers on the road today don’t have the required insurance policy. As a result, Missouri law requires all liability insurance policies to also include uninsured motorist coverage. All insured drivers in Missouri will have uninsured motorist coverage (sometimes referred to as “UM”). UM coverage compensates you for damages caused by an uninsured motor vehicle, or an unknown driver, as in a hit and run situation If you have insurance on your car, by law you have uninsured motorist coverage. We all pay for this as a part of our monthly premiums.
There are many differences in a UM claim when compared to a claim against another driver’s policy. The major difference is that you are filing a claim against your own insurance company. To be compensated, you need to prove that you were involved in an accident with an uninsured motor vehicle, and the nature and extent of your injuries. Your company may be difficult to deal with because of their vested interest in hanging on to your premiums and not settling your claim.
Another difference is the amount of coverage available. With UM claims, you may be able to “stack” your UM policy for all the vehicles you own. For example, if you had four cars covered under a $25,000.00 UM policy, and if your damages warranted, you could stack the policies so that there would be $100,000.00 in coverage to pay for your damages. Issues concerning stacking of UM policies should be discussed with an attorney. Your insurance company may not tell you that the additional coverage is available, or may assert that you cannot stack your policies.
Uninsured motorists cause higher costs for all of us in terms of higher premiums and unpaid property damage claims when dealing with an uninsured or underinsured motorist in an accident. Approximately one in six drivers (16.67%) across the United States may be driving uninsured, according to a 2008 study from the Insurance Research Council (IRC). Missouri was slightly better than this estimate, with approximately 14% of all Missouri drivers being uninsured.
UNDERINSURED MOTORIST COVERAGE
Underinsured coverage (sometimes referred to as “UIM”) is not required under the MVFRL. It is a separate coverage that may be purchased along with your liability and UM coverages. UIM applies in situations where your damages exceed the insurance available from the driver who is at fault in the accident. For example, assume that you are involved in an accident and have medical bills in excess of $100,000.00. You have permanent injuries that will cause you some disability for the rest of your life. The driver of the other vehicle only has the minimum required liability insurance. The $25,000.00 available under his policy will not come anywhere close to paying for your medical bills, much less the additional cost to you for the resulting disabilities. If you had purchased UIM coverage, your UIM would pick up the difference in cost above the $25,000.00 from the other driver.
Unfortunately, your insurance company is not likely to pay your UIM claim without a fight. It is important that you contact an attorney immediately if you are involved in an accident to make sure that you receive the UIM benefits that you have paid for in your policy.
Your homeowners policy covers your house for physical loss, typically caused by fire and wind damage. Water damage may be covered if it is caused by water from within the home. Seldom is flood damage covered. It will also cover injuries caused by you or a family member. It may also provide coverage for accidents occurring at some other location. It is important that you contact an attorney immediately to see what coverages may be available under your homeowners policy.
The attorneys at Kennedy, Kennedy, Robbins & Yarbro, LC have assisted many individuals to protect their legal rights. If you need legal assistance, or for further information about your insurance policies, please contact Kennedy, Kennedy, Robbins & Yarbro, LC, at (573) 686-2459. Our commitment is to earn your confidence by answering all questions and providing quality representation. If you need to contact one of our lawyers about another legal need, we may also be reached here.