Uninsured and Underinsured Motorist Coverage and Your Car Accident Claim
In Mississippi, if you are injured in a car accident involving an uninsured or underinsured motorist, there are special laws that apply to your injury claim. If you have uninsured motorist insurance (“UM”) then you can collect from your uninsured motorist policy. If you are hit by someone that is underinsured, there is another set of laws that apply to your underinsured motorist insurance (“UIM”). An underinsured driver is someone that does not have enough insurance coverage to compensate for all damages involved in your injury claim. The state minimum limits in Mississippi for liability coverage are $25,000 per person and $50,000 per accident. This means that by law all drivers in Mississippi must have at least that much insurance. However, $25,000 per person coverage hardly helps pay the bills for someone that is injured in a car wreck that has $100,000 in medical bills. The injured individual hopefully has underinsured motorist coverage.
One of the most important features of uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage is stacking. In Mississippi, you can generally stack coverage. There are some situations where you cannot stack coverage, which becomes complicated. Whether a policy is stackable depends on whether the injured individual is a Class I or Class II insured, a question that will be examined in a later blog series. Stacking works as follows: you have 4 vehicles on your auto insurance policy with $25,000 per person/ $50,000 per accident uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage. If the policies stack then you actually have $100,000 per person, $200,000 per accident coverage. The difference between per person and per accident comes into play as follows: The at fault driver’s policy is $25,000 per person, $50,000 per accident bodily injury liability coverage. Two individuals are injured in the wreck. They both have $15,000 in medical bills. Each injured individual can collect, at most, $25,000 for their claim. And if both collect $25,000, then the full $50,000 per accident coverage is exhausted.
Another important feature of uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage in Mississippi is the “set off”. The set off works as follows: You are hit by someone that has $25,000 per person, $50,000 per accident coverage. You have $50,000 per person, $100,000 per accident uninsured/underinsured coverage. You have $50,000 in medical bills and pain and suffering. Your UM policy gets a credit or setoff for the $25,000 per person coverage the at fault driver carried. Therefore, you only have $25,000 UM coverage in this situation. Where this often becomes a problem is in the case where the at fault driver carries $25,000 per person liability coverage for bodily injuries and the injured individual/victim carries $25,000 UM coverage. In that instance the injured individual has effectively no UM because the $25,000 liability sets off the $25,000 UM resulting in $0.
Hopefully this article has helped you understand the nuances of uninsured and underinsured motorist coverage. We encourage everyone to examine their UM/UIM policy and make sure they have enough coverage. If you have been injured in a car wreck and have questions regarding the insurance coverage involved in your collision, give our office a call today, we’ll be happy to help you.