“As things now stand, even legally sophisticated persons may find it practically impossible to know their UIM coverage for such scenarios, which cannot be a desirable situation.” Shelter Mut. Ins. Co., v. Straw, 334 S.W.3d 592, 599 (Mo. App. S.D. 2011) (Scott, J. dissenting).
When an individual is injured by a motorist who has no insurance or just not enough insurance to cover all damages, she can look to her own uninsured or underinsured motorist coverage to provide recovery. This article is designed to introduce the Missouri practitioner to these basic insurance principals. This article will also explore the legal theories of stacking multiple policies and set-offs for prior payments. It will include discussions of important Missouri Supreme Court decisions and look at recent decisions out of the Southern and Western Missouri Court of Appeals.
Uninsured coverage is a statutorily required part of every automobile policy and comes into play when the defendant driver does not have any car insurance. Court’s interpretations of uninsured policies are based on the statute and the public policy flowing from their mandatory nature. The rules regarding stacking are clear.
Underinsured coverage is not statutorily required and is coverage purchased by the injured plaintiff for the likely event that the defendant does not have enough insurance to cover all the damages. Without a statute or public policy guiding it, the coverage provided is determined by contract principles. The case law has less precedential value because the result is so language specific, which is particularly true with stacking and set-offs. Accordingly, this article will demonstrate how the contract language will need to be analyzed on a case by case basis.
Underinsured Motor Vehicle Coverage
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