Richard Chase took out an auto insurance policy from the Horace Mann Insurance Company in 2001. He chose reduced uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage (“UM”), which would pay up to $50,000 for an accident with an uninsured motorist. Listed as the sole named insured at the time, Richard included his daughter Allison Chase as a “driver” on the policy with no rights to make changes to the policy.
Then in 2004 Horace Mann issued a new policy to Richard, but kept the old policy in tact, naming Allison as the new sole insured. She did not select or reject any reduced UM coverage. In 2007, Richard and Allison had a car accident with an uninsured motorist, and Richard was killed. As the personal representative of her father’s estate, Allison sought the $100,000 UM coverage, but Horace Mann claimed she was bound by the reduced UM coverage her father had selected under the policy in 2001.
The Supreme Court of Florida disagreed. They ruled that Allison was not subject to Richard’s waiver of UM benefits, and that Horace Mann did not obtain a valid, written waiver of UM coverage as required under Fla. Stat. 627.727. As a result, the insurance company now must pay Allison Chase the full $100,000 for UM benefit.
Since Florida law does not require drivers to carry insurance that covers bodily harm, you may have no way of recovering money from an at-fault driver for injuries sustained by you or your passengers. To make matters worse, an estimated 20% of drivers in Florida have no insurance coverage at all. Insurance companies typically deny UM claims for the following reasons:
- Denying responsibility for the at-fault driver or the claim.
- Claiming that something besides the accident caused the injuries.
- Blaming someone or something else for the accident.
In the case above, the company tried to deny that the insured had UM coverage for the amount she claimed. As we see from the Supreme Court decision, Florida insurance companies are legally obligated to offer all clients UM coverage, and drivers can only refuse this coverage by signing a waiver form clearly indicating their rejection of UM coverage and what that means.
If you have been injured in an accident, please contact an experienced Florida accident lawyer at Lytal, Reiter, Smith, Ivey & Fronrath. We understand the insurance laws and will strive to get you the compensation you deserve from insurance companies. Call today for a free consultation.