Unfortunately, it is extremely common for accidents in Oregon to be caused by drivers with no insurance, or by drivers without sufficient limits to cover your damages. In those situations, you will need to look at your own insurance policy. In Oregon, every insurance policy is required to have uninsured or underinsured motorist coverage with limits that are even to your liability limits. Drivers can elect lower uninsured/underinsured limits on their own policy if they do so in writing. But if you can afford this coverage, it is extremely important to have.
If you are involved in an accident and have been offered the policy limits of the other driver, or have been told that the other driver has no insurance or cannot be found, you can bring an uninsured/underinsured claim against your own policy to recover additional damages. In order to bring these claims, it is extremely important that you follow the requirements of your own insurance policy. Knowing what these requirements are is important to protect your rights. At Dwyer Williams Cherkoss, we can help you work through the uninsured/underinsured motorist requirements to help insure you are not barred from bringing an uninsured/underinsured claim simply because you did not follow the insurance company’s rules. The insurance company’s requirements for paying uninsured motorist claims for phantom vehicles can require a police report and reporting to the insurance company on a very short timeframe. So reading, understanding, and complying with these requirements quickly following an accident is critical or your claim may be barred.
All underinsured claim require that you get written consent prior to settling with the at-fault driver’s insurance company. This “simple” requirement costs many injured people the chance to recover the full value of their claim because they didn’t read or understand their own insurance policy.
CAN YOU TRUST WHAT THE INSURANCE COMPANY IS TELLING YOU REGARDING COVERAGE?
What do you do if the insurance company is telling you there was no coverage for this accident? Remember, that all insurance companies want to deny, delay or at a last resort defend against claims and pay nothing or as little as possible on each and every claim. If the adjuster is telling you that this car wasn’t listed on the policy, or that there is no coverage. Ask that this information be put into a letter with documentation showing proof of the insurance companies claim. Newly purchased vehicles are usually covered even if the vehicle is not listed on the policy. Make the insurance company prove their assertions. If the adjuster is telling you there is only $25,000 policy limits, ask for the declaration or proof of coverage page to confirm this amount.
CAN YOU RECOVER FROM AN UNINSURED OR UNDERINSURED DRIVER?
This is a situation specific question, but in general it is extremely hard to collect from uninsured or underinsured drivers. Unless drugs or alcohol were involved in the accident, or some type of reckless conduct such as street racing, most drivers can simply file bankruptcy and eliminate their debt to a person they injured in an accident. To make matters worse, most drivers with no insurance or minimal policy limits simply have no assets or income worth pursuing. In those situations, your own uninsured/underinsured policy limits are your best bet to protect yourself.