An unidentified car cut me off, and caused my cycle to veer off the road. Do I have a case through my uninsured motorist policy?
- March 24, 2017
Insurance policies vary depending on the company that underwrites the policy and the state that the policy is written in. Coverage limits also vary greatly depending on what the customer requested at the time they purchased the protection. In general, uninsured motorist coverage is intended to provide protection when the responsible party is driving without insurance coverage to pay for the damages that they caused by being negligent. Many states require uninsured motorist bodily injury coverage to satisfy legal limits to drive. Where uninsured motorist bodily injury is required, the required limits of bodily injury are usually the same as the liability minimums in the state. For example, in a state where the minimum liability bodily injury limit is $25,000 per person not to exceed $50,000 per accident; the uninsured motorist requirement would be the same (as written in insurance terms – 25/50).
Uninsured motorist protection pays out only if the named insured is NOT the at fault party. Where the accident is the fault of the primary party (the named insured) their medical payments may be paid by another secondary coverage – Personal injury protection or medical payments depending on the state. Thus, fault is an important part of an uninsured motorist payout.
Uninsured Motorist provides protection in situations where an individual flees the scene of an accident without enough information to identify them. In the situation described here, the “unidentified car” could fit that description. Normally, this clause is designed for the “hit and run” situation. The problem with the situation as it is outlined in this question is that there must be a determination that the “unidentified car” is the proximate cause of the cycle veering off of the road. In other words, the driver of the “unidentified car” must be liable for the accident – the at fault party. “Hit and run” accidents normally have impact between the vehicles involved which helps an insurance adjuster to determine who is at fault. In this case, the motorcycle rider, wisely to be sure, chose to swerve to miss hitting the car which means there is not an impact point to help with the at fault determination. Witnesses to the situation or a police report could also help an insurance adjuster make a favorable determination for an uninsured motorist payout. Based on the information, that I have, I do not know if there is a police report or witnesses but that would bolster this claim significantly.
Coverage for the damage to the motorcycle itself – physical damage coverage in insurance parlance – is a slightly different situation. This is because while uninsured motorist bodily injury coverage is often required (and commonly purchased even when it is not required), uninsured motorist property damage is not widely mandated so it is quite possible that it is NOT a selected coverage on the policy. If it is, the same fault determination is going to make the claim harder. Depending on what kind of policy the motorcycle rider has, there may be coverage for damage to the bike from collision coverage instead. Obviously, without reading the insurance contract and the declarations page that spells out both the levels and the limits of the coverage provided, it is impossible to speculate about what might be covered here.
In short, it is possible that this cyclist has a claim against their own uninsured motorist coverage however, the fault determination could be very difficult. Insurance professionals – agents and adjusters – generally view single vehicle accidents, like this one, as the fault of the driver of the only vehicle involved. The presumption is that you must maintain control of your vehicle at all times regardless of road conditions or the crazy antics of other drivers. We all know that when another car pulls out in front of you unexpectedly, that there may be no way to do that but that is the presumption that would have to be overcome here. An exploratory conversation with the carrier in question, may well better spell out the options. Most claims departments have a mandate to try to find coverage for you if they can (contrary to popular belief). Give them a call!