UIM & UM Claims After a Delaware Car Accident
Most Delaware residents don’t understand how underinsured motorist (UIM) and uninsured motorist (UM) coverage works. When it’s time to buy or renew a car insurance policy, Delaware residents focus on the premium amounts, rather than getting comprehensive coverage. UIM/UM coverage in Delaware is crucial in helping an injured car accident victim obtain full and fair financial recovery after the accident.
UIM/UM coverage applies when a car accident is caused by another driver. UIM and UM are distinct and apply to different situations. UIM coverage applies when a Delaware insured is hurt in a car accident caused by another driver who has insufficient coverage. UM applies when the at-fault driver doesn’t have any insurance. The most common example of a UM claim situation is a hit and run car accident, when the at-fault driver flees the accident scene.
UIM/UM claims are made by an insured under their own car insurance policy. This tends to cause confusion for many victims injured in car accidents in Delaware. Why doesn’t the at-fault driver pay for the damages? The answer is that the at-fault driver does in fact, pay for the damages, but only up to the amount provided by their car insurance policy. Every car insurance policy issued in Delaware must carry a minimum amount of bodily injury liability coverage, which applies when the insured causes a car accident. As of December 13, 2017, the minimum amount is currently $25,000 per person (max of $50,000 per accident) for any new or recently renewed insurance policies. The prior minimum amount ($15,000 per person/$30,000 per accident) may still be in effect for some older policies, until they are renewed.
Related: Delaware Car Accident Law: Getting Compensated by Making a Bodily Liability Injury Claim with the At-fault Driver’s Insurance Company
After the injured individual makes a claim against the at-fault driver and receives compensation via the bodily injury liability coverage, the next step would be a UIM/UM claim. Conceptually, the at-fault driver does pay first. Then, the injured individual can make a UIM/UM claim, but only if their injuries and damages exceed the at-fault driver’s coverage.
Delaware Car Accident Law – Time Deadline to File a UIM/UM Claim
Under Delaware law, UIM/UM claims are considered contract claims. The contract, the auto insurance policy, is between the insured and their insurance company. Accordingly, UIM/UM claims get a 3 year statute of limitations, not the 2 year period that is applied to ordinary personal injury claims including car accident claims.
The important question is, when does the 3 year clock start ticking? Does it start ticking on the date of the accident? The answer is no.
It’s well-established in Delaware that the UIM/UM clock begins ticking when the insurance company breaches its contractual obligations under the auto insurance policy. See Allstate v. Spinelli, a 1982 Delaware Supreme Court case. From a practical standpoint, the statute of limitations clock on a UIM/UM claim typically starts ticking when the insurance company declines the claim or denies payment on the claim.
Need Help with a Car Insurance Claim After an Accident in Wilmington & Dover?
Contact our car accident lawyers for a FREE consultation. We handle auto insurance claims in Delaware such as PIP claims, UIM/UM claims and auto accident lawsuits against at-fault parties.
Our law firm has been helping residents of Delaware and the surrounding states since 1992. (302) 658-1717 (Wilmington) or (302) 736-5500 (Dover)
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