Understanding Car Accident Claims

Beware Of These Two Issues After Getting Into An Accident With An Underinsured Motorist

by Lois Gibson

Uninsured motorists are the bane of the road, but one group that is often overlooked are underinsured drivers whose policy limits won't fully cover damages and losses resulting from accidents they caused. Here are two issues you may run into when dealing with an underinsured motorist and what you can do about them.

There May Be a Time Limit for Filing a Claim

If you have uninsured/underinsured motorist (UM) coverage in your insurance policy, then the best way to handle an accident with an underinsured motorist is to file a claim with your own insurance provider for the balance not covered by the other person's policy. The problem here is, unlike with an uninsured driver, it can take time to determine whether the other person's insurance limits will completely cover your damages and losses. This is particularly true if you are injured in the crash, since some injuries take time to manifest and treat.

Unfortunately, some insurance companies limit the amount of time you have to file a claim against your UM coverage, which can be as little as 30 days from the date of the accident. This may not be enough time to discover the extent of your damages, and you may end up settling for less than you're actually owed.

If you suspect your damages will exceed what the other party has available, get estimates from auto body shops and healthcare providers and submit a claim as soon as possible. You can always negotiate the amount of the actual settlement later as you receive more concrete information about your injuries and the damage to your vehicle. The important thing is getting the claim on record so you're not barred from pursuing compensation.

You May Be Required to Submit to Arbitration

A second issue you may run into is you might have to submit to binding arbitration if there is a dispute with your insurance company about the amount of money it should pay out from the UM policy. Unlike your regular policy where you have the option to sue your insurance company if it doesn't handle your claim correctly, the UM portion of your coverage may come with a clause requiring both parties to take any disagreements before an arbitrator rather than the court.

This is more likely to be the case if uninsured/underinsured coverage is an optional add-on and not required by the state government. Regardless of how and why the clause was added to your policy, it's essential you get an attorney as soon as it becomes clear you're not going to get the full amount you're asking for. The decisions in arbitration are typically final, so you won't get another chance in court. Therefore, it's essential you have someone who can help you get it right the first time.

For more information about these issues or help with an auto accident claim, contact a personal injury attorney.