According to a newsok.com article, about one of every four vehicles on Oklahoma roads is uninsured, and there’s not much that can be done to improve that, state officials are saying.
The Insurance Reesearch Council, an industry group, estimates that 14.8 percent of Oklahoma motorists are uninsured, the 18th-worst rate in the nation. But law enforcement, insurance and state officials think the actual rate may be twice as high.
As an attorney who practices extensively in car wrecks, this is a growing problem I see in Oklahoma as well. I can’t offer any advice on how to solve the problem (a recent bill to limit economic damages for innocent drivers who can’t produce insurance verification is nothing more than a form of tort reform) but I can offer some practical advice uninsured motorists coverage.
First off, in laymans terms what is uninsured motorist coverage? Its quite simple, uninsured motorist coverage pays for your bodily injury, pain & suffering, lost wages, if you are involved in an accident in which you are not at fault and the person that was at fault did not have liability insurance. Uninsured motorists coverage in Oklahoma also operates as underinsured. When the party who causes the accident does not have enough coverage, you can make a claim for the amount that the person at fault was underinsured for.
Now before you think that getting underinsured motorist coverage to apply is easy. Understand this one thing. In Oklahoma, if you settle with the at fault party through his or her insurance company, you must first obtain a waiver of subrogation from your own uninsured motorist company. If you fail to do so, you cannnot avail yourself to any uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage. This is a red herring that most people do not know and I highly recommend consulting an experienced attorney so that you do not destroy your claim to underinsured motorist proceeds.
In Oklahoma, insurance agents have to advise you of available uninsured motorist coverage. Once they do that you then have the option of accepting or rejecting uninsured motorist coverage. If you reject, Oklahoma law requires the insurance company to have you sign a written waiver. If your involved in an accident and they can’t produce the written waiver, Oklahoma law allows you to recover the statutory minimum of $25,000.00 in uninsured motorist coverage. Don’t be suprised if the insurance company can’t produce a written waiver. We have been successfuly throughout the years in making claims for uninsured motorist because the insurance company did not follow Oklahoma law and could not produce a waiver.
This blog points out some of the basics of uninsured motorist law. There are several others I have posted before or will post in the past. For example in a recent post I described where in Oklahoma you can make the company whom you purchased uninsured motorists coverage pay the first dollar. I will also discuss in the following weeks your ability to stack uninsured motorist coverage for seperate automobiles, medical payments coverage and the good faith duty your uninsured motorist coverage carrier has.