Uninsured and under-insured motorist coverage is a smart insurance choice because we all know that many drivers in the U.S. are driving around with little or no insurance. (See prior blog post – click here). Having the coverage on just the vehicles you drive the most, though, can leave you coming up short in the event of a catastrophic injury or death. For example, a recent court case in Missouri ended in defeat for the widow of a man who was recently killed in a motorcycle accident by a driver who possessed only $25,000 in total coverage. The case, brought by Ronda Walker on behalf of her deceased husband, Steve Walker, ended with a judgment in favor of the insurance company, Progressive.
The negative verdict came as the result of the decision made by the judge that, since the motorcycle Steve Walker was riding was not covered under the under-insured motorist (UIM) policy that the couple had taken out. Although Steve and Ronda Walker were both listed as UIM policy holders for a total of six vehicles, the motorcycle was not included in the policy. As a result, Progressive was not held liable to provide damages to Ronda Walker.
What Does Underinsured Motorist (UIM) Coverage Entail?
As defined by Progressive, UIM coverage entails the following:
Once a policy holder pays the premium for UIM coverage, Progressive covers all damages that the policy holder is entitled to recover from the party responsible for the accident (whether owner or operator of the underinsured vehicle). These damages include coverage for any injuries the policy holder may receive as a result of the accident.
Progressive defined the concept of an “insured” person as follows:
- The policy holder themselves.
- A relative of the policy holder.
- Any person who operates the vehicle covered by the policy with the express consent of the policy holder or a relative of the policy holder.
- Any person who occupies, but does not operate, the vehicle covered in the policy.
- Any person who is duly entitled to receive damages as the result of an injury that has been sustained by any of the persons described above.
Ultimately, the purpose of a UIM policy is to provide coverage to the persons included on the policy in the event of an accident resulting in injuries or death that is caused by another person who possesses only the most minimal amount of limited liability coverage.
Why Was UIM Coverage Ultimately Denied To Ronda Walker?
As stated in the ruling laid down by the court in favor of Progressive, Ronda Walker was ultimately denied in her bid to obtain damages from the company. This verdict was handed down because it was shown that UIM coverage did not apply to her under the terms of the policy her husband had taken out. Although six other vehicles owned by the couple were covered under a UIM policy, the motorcycle her husband was riding at the time of the accident was not.
You Need To Have UIM Coverage On Every Vehicle You Own
The verdict that was handed down to Ronda Walker underscores the fact that you need to take out a UIM policy on every vehicle you own. Even if you own several vehicles and use a few of them only infrequently, they all need to be covered under a UIM policy in order to prevent tragic scenarios such as the one Ronda Walker found herself in.
If you fail to cover all of your owned vehicles under a UIM policy and a tragedy should occur, you will be unable to claim damages, even if all of your other vehicles are currently covered under this policy. It should always be remembered that insurance companies are in the business to take in money, not pay it out. This is exactly why they word their terms so minutely – and why you should always read the fine print and follow the instructions to the letter.
For more information on common disputes with auto insurance carriers and how to resolve them, click here.