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Underinsured Motorist Coverage – Do You Understand What Policies Insure You?

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A few years ago I had a case where a client came to me with horrific injuries from a rollover wreck that left her with debilitating injuries. For the sake of this discussion we will call our former client Jane Doe. Upon our initial consultation with Jane we inquired whether she had uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage. She informed us that she had $50,000.00 in underinsured motorist coverage. However, our inquiry did not end there. We asked her about her “living situation” and found out that she and her husband were living with her father. I sent my client home with the task of finding out whether her father also had underinsured motorist coverage.

Now you may be asking yourself why I would ask 30 year-old women whether her father had underinsured motorist coverage. The answer is quite simple. Oklahoma law allows (with certain caveats) that underinsured motorist coverage protects the named insured (usually who buys the policy) along with anyone else insured under the owner’s policy. This term of art for recovering under an underinsured motorist policy is “insured person.” An "insured person" includes a relative as defined, any person occupying a covered vehicle, and any person entitled to recovery because of bodily injury suffered by either of the foregoing persons. Usually, it simply applies to all resident household members, that is those family members residing in the home.

Come to find out the father had a large uninsured motorist policy that covered all resident relatives. Since Jane was a “resident” and also a “relative” we were able to afford coverage under her father’s policy which was substantial. This was important due to the exorbitant medical bills that had been incurred by Jane.

The moral is this, when deal with insurance policies it is very important to contact a knowledgeable attorney to ascertain what insurance coverage may be afforded to you. In Oklahoma statistics have shown that approximately 1 in 3 drivers are uninsured. Accordingly, uninsured motorist coverage is an important part of our practice and one which can help our client in the event they are injured in a car accident.