UM insurance stands for “uninsured motorist” coverage. As discussed in several other articles, UM insurance is optional in Louisiana and not required by the State in order to be “legal.” UM insurance comes into play when the at-fault driver doesn’t have liability insurance or doesn’t have enough insurance to adequately cover you for your personal injury losses. In those cases, you make a claim with your own insurance under your UM coverage.
Your UM insurer owes you a direct contractual duty:
Unlike the other driver’s insurance company, your UM insurer (your auto insurance company) owes you a direct duty pursuant to your insurance contract with them. As with most contracts, that means both you and your insurance company have certain obligations and duties to each other.
Your UM insurer must treat you fairly during the claims process:
One of the duties your UM insurer has is “fair dealing.” That means the insurance company should not try to trick you during the claims process. For example, a UM should not threaten you during the claims process, or try to get you to settle quickly by saying things like, “this is your last chance,” or “if you don’t accept this now, you can’t later.”
Another obligation your UM insurer has to you is to handle your claim in “good faith.” That means a few things. First, it means that they have an obligation to properly evaluate your claim. Second, it means that after they are provided with “adequate proof of loss,” they must adjust (evaluate) your claim within a reasonable time. Finally, it means that they must make “unconditional tenders” to you of the amount(s) they believe your claim is worth.
What is an “unconditional tender?”:
An unconditional tender is a payment your UM insurer should make to you after they are provided with adequate proof of your losses. For example, say you have proven to your UM insurer that the other party caused your wreck and are uninsured. You have also provided proof of your medical bills and injuries in the way of medical bills and doctor notes. If, after evaluation, your UM insurer believes that your personal injuries (including doctor bills and general damages) have a value of $5,000, they must “unconditionally tender” that amount.
An unconditional tender means that the insurance company must send you a check for the undisputed amount of your claim, without any strings attached. For instance, they should not require you to sign a release in order to get your money.
What happens if I think my UM insurer owes me more money?:
In many situations, you may think that your UM claim is worth more than your insurance company is tendering. For instance, if you think your claim is worth $10,000, but the UM insurer only tenders $5,000. In those cases, it is important to remember that you still retain the right to pursue the remainder of your claim, even if a tender has been made.
Have You Been Injured In An Accident And Need Help Handling Your Personal Injury Claim?
At Flattmann Law, we handle UM claims and hold UM insurers to their obligations. If you do not think you are being treated fairly by your UM insurer contact us online or call our Covington office directly at 985.590.6182 to schedule your free consultation today. Flattmann Law serves clients on the Northshore, including Covington, Mandeville, Abita Springs, Bogalusa, Franklinton, Folsom, Hammond, Lacombe, Pearl River, and Slidell.