- Wade Visconte
Louisiana Uninsured Motorist Coverage: What does it mean and how does it affect me?
Updated: Jun 7, 2021
What is Uninsured Motorist Coverage?
If you have been injured in the Shreveport Bossier area, you may have the right to uninsured motorist coverage or underinsured motorist coverage. In Louisiana, when you purchase your auto insurance, insurance companies are required by law to give the option to also purchase uninsured/underinsured insurance. You have to choose several options. You can purchase uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage at your liability limits, lower than liability limits, or you can reject coverage.
There are two types of uninsured/underinsured coverage you can choose. You can choose “economic only” which is designed to cover only financial losses you can document like medical bills and lost wages. Your “general damages” like pain and suffering are not covered. There is a formula that may apply if you only have “economic only” coverage and your damages exceed the at fault driver’s policy limits, but you should hire an attorney in such a situation because of the complicated nature of the problem.
There is also “bodily injury” uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage that covers both your economic and non-economic. In my opinion, “economic only” usually only benefits the insurance company and agent than you because you are much more likely to have a “bodily injury” uninsured/underinsured motorist claim, and the “bodily injury” type of coverage is better in terms of what you get for your premium.
When does uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage apply?
Uninsured motorist coverage applies when the other driver is at fault and has no insurance. A significant % of people in Louisiana only have minimum liability limits of $15,000. Moreover, a significant % of people in Louisiana HAVE NO INSURANCE COVERAGE. Underinsured motorist coverage applies when the value of your claim exceeds the limits of the at fault driver. For example, if the at fault driver only has $15,000 limits and you have $30,000 in medical bills, underinsured motorist coverage would be available to you.
However, there are complicated situations that arise involving underinsured coverage. One situation involves if you are a passenger and do not own the vehicle in the accident, you might be able to “stack” two underinsured motorist policies, but you must first “exhaust” the underinsured limits for the vehicle you are riding in if there is coverage on that vehicle. There are also certain situations where a person is injured while in the "course and scope of employment," or where there is no "actual physical contact" between the covered car and an uninsured car. Those exceptions are beyond the scope of this guide. Contact us if you fall into one of the previous scenarios and you need a personal injury lawyer in the Shreveport Bossier area.
What sort of proof is needed?
You might need to give a statement to YOUR insurance company. You will need to cooperate since the uninsured/underinsured insurance company is "your insurer" under Louisiana law, and you have a duty and obligation to cooperate with your insurer in investigating an accident. BE HONEST! If you have to file suit later, the insurer will use any incorrect statements, slight exaggerations, puffing, etc., against you.
Proof needed: you will need to prove the at fault driver's limits or no insurance. If you have “economic only” coverage, you will need documentation of any lost wages, co-pays, deductibles, out-of-pocket prescription payments, etc. If you have “bodily injury” coverage, you should submit everything required to make an "economic only' claim, but you will also need all the medical records documenting your injuries and your treatment. Generally speaking, the amount of your "non-economic" damages claim is determined by (1) your length of treatment, (2) the total amount of your medical bills, (3) the SEVERITY of your injuries, and (4) the costs of future medical treatment (if any).
How long does the insurance company have to pay me after I provide proof of my loss?
Your insurer has a mandatory deadline of no later than 30 days (or 60 in some situations) after receipt of your "proof of loss" to pay you the policy limits or to make an "unconditional tender" for a sum less than policy limits. However, if you do not provide everything in the "proof of loss" required by law, your insurance company may not owe you any tender/payment. An "unconditional tender" is generally the amount that no reasonable person can contest as the minimum value of your claim. You still can seek additional money from the insurance company if the insurance "tender" was too low, but you may have to sue your insurer.
What is "bad faith" by an insurer?
Your insurer must act in good faith in dealing with you. If your insurer puts its financial bottom line before your best interest, you can make a "bad faith" claim. There are several situations where an insurer may be in "bad faith." For example, if you provided ADEQUATE "proof of loss," and the insurer did not timely make a tender within the 30-day deadline, your insurer may be in "bad faith." There are other types of "bad faith" by an insurer. Consequently, penalties differ depending on the type of "bad faith."
Can I sue my insurance company for denying my claim?
If you think you have a "bad faith" claim and live in the Shreveport Bossier area, YOU NEED TO CONSULT A SHREVEPORT INSURANCE ATTORNEY OR “BAD FAITH” LAWYER BECAUSE YOU WILL HAVE TO FILE SUIT TO ASSERT ANY "BAD FAITH" CLAIM AGAINST AN INSURER. All American Law Firm of LA, LLC frequently handles “bad faith” claims against insurance companies and offers free consultations.
How long do I have to file suit against my insurance company?
The deadline to file suit against your uninsured/underinsured insurer in Louisiana is two years from the date of the car accident.
Still have questions? Contact All American Law Firm today to discuss your case.
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