Uninsured And Underinsured Motorist Insurance Coverage

Not everyone complies with Iowa’s motor vehicle financial responsibility law, which requires liability insurance for all motor vehicles.  Even motor vehicle owners that do comply with the law may only carry the minimum $20,000 of coverage mandated by Iowa law.  If you’re in an accident with such a driver, that driver may have no or insufficient coverage for your bodily injuries and property damage.  You may then have to resort to your own uninsured or underinsured motorist coverage.

Every motor vehicle policy issued in Iowa includes at least minimal uninsured and underinsured motorist coverage ($20,000 per person/$40,000 per accident bodily injury; $15,000 property damage).  That is mandated by Iowa law.  You can also buy greater uninsured and underinsured motorist coverage by paying a higher premium to your insurance company.

An uninsured or underinsured motorist claim is made against your own insurance company.  Therefore, like any other insurance claim, your insurer may raise various policy provisions or exclusions to avoid paying your claim or minimize the amount paid.  So you not only have to prove that you would be legally entitled to recover against the uninsured or underinsured driver, i.e., that the other driver is liable, but you also have to navigate any policy provisions or exclusions that your insurer throws at you.  Consequently, some uninsured or underinsured motorist claims never even reach the question of the other driver’s liability.  Instead, they get stuck at the preliminary issue of whether your insurer is even exposed to a potential uninsured or underinsured motorist claim under the terms of your insurance policy.

If your insurer denies your uninsured or underinsured motorist claim or you and your insurer cannot agree on a fair amount for payment of the claim, you will have to resort to a lawsuit against your insurance company for breach of the insurance contract.  Although that suit is technically a contract/insurance lawsuit, and may include preliminary contract and insurance legal disputes, at the end it becomes a basic personal injury case and the jury is asked to determine the amount of damages you suffered in the accident with the uninsured or underinsured driver.

Uninsured and underinsured motorist insurance claims are complicated matters that blend insurance law, contract law, and personal injury law in a unique way.  To fully determine your legal rights you have to analyze your insurance policy, state statutory law, and state court law and apply all of that to the circumstances of your accident.  That is not something that you should not undertake without an attorney.  Please contact me if you have a question about insurance law or personal injury or wrongful death law.

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