Underinsured and uninsured motorist coverage is one of the most important types of car insurance coverage a Delaware resident can purchase. It is also one of the most confusing types of coverage.
Many individuals injured in car accidents do not even know what UIM/UM coverage is, let alone, whether they purchased it. Click here for part 1 of this article and learn more about UIM/UM coverage.
As discussed in part 1 of this article, Delaware’s legislature amended UIM law in 2013. Effective January 3, 2014, UIM claims are much easier to make in Delaware. However this only applies to policies issued or renewed after January 3, 2014.
How UIM/UM Works (Policies Issued/Renewed Before January 3, 2014)
The following hypothetical explains how UIM works for policies issued prior to January 3, 2014.
A Delaware resident is injured in a car accident caused by another driver who has a car insurance policy with minimum bodily injury liability coverage limit (a $15,000 policy). The innocent, injured driver sustains major injuries, needs extensive medical treatment, and also loses time from work. The innocent driver’s injuries and damages exceed the $15,000 bodily injury liability coverage of the at-fault driver. Whether the innocent driver can make a UIM claim depends on the amount of UIM coverage purchased on their own car insurance policy.
Related: Lost Wage and Salary Claims in a Delaware Car Accident Case – Documenting the Lost Wage Amount
Scenario 1: the innocent driver purchased $15,000 of UIM coverage. Since the at-fault driver’s bodily injury coverage limit was the same, $15,000, the innocent driver cannot make a UIM claim.
Scenario 2: the innocent driver has $50,000 of UIM coverage. Since the innocent driver’s UIM coverage amount exceeds the at-fault driver’s bodily injury coverage limit of $15,000, the innocent driver may make a UIM claim and recover up to $50,000, and how much depends on the nature and extent of the injuries and damages. See Nationwide v. Peebles, a 1997 Delaware Supreme Court case.
Learn more about UIM/UM coverage in Delaware and whether Delaware allows stacking of UIM/UM amounts under separate car insurance policies.
How UIM/UM Works (Policies Issued/Renewed After January 3, 2014)
Under the amended law, Delaware residents may be able to make UIM/UM claims without regard to an at-fault driver’s bodily injury liability coverage amount. Using the same example as above, in either scenario, the innocent driver would be able to make a UIM claim.
Scenario 3: using the same example, the at-fault driver has $25,000 of bodily injury liability coverage, and the innocent driver has $15,000 of UIM coverage. Under Delaware’s amended UIM/UM law, so long as the innocent driver’s injuries and damages exceed $25,000, the driver could make a UIM claim. However, how much the driver can obtain depends on the nature of the injuries and damages. If a jury awards $40,000, the driver would be able to obtain $15,000 ($25,000 + $15,000), the full amount of the UIM coverage. If on the other hand, a jury awards $35,000, then the driver would only be able to obtain $10,000 ($25,000 + $10,000).
More: Car Accidents in Delaware – Should You Hire a Car Accident Lawyer?
If you have questions about making an underinsured or uninsured claim in Delaware, please call our office to schedule a free consultation with one of our lawyers. (302) 658-1717
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