The Importance of Supplemental Insurance
Oct. 6, 2022
I Was Involved in a Motor Vehicle Accident With Someone Who is Uninsured or Has Limited Bodily Injury Limits. What Now?
Many times we have clients who sustain serious injuries in car accidents that were caused but others only to find out that the other automobile lacked insurance or had a minimum bodily injury policy. These clients are distraught at first, until we are able to explain that they are protected by their own insurance policy in such instances. For anyone who insures a motor vehicle in New York State it is mandatory to have these protections. It is what is called Supplementary Uninsurance or Supplementary Underinsurance. Although New York State only requires minimum policy limits of $25,000 per person/$50,000 per accident, in many instances people have paid for higher limits to protect themselves. It is why it is important for any person in New York involved in a motor vehicle accident to contact an attorney to protect these rights. At the Law Offices of Spencer M. Fein, P.C. located in Briarcliff Manor we have helped numerous clients throughout Westchester, Putnam, Dutchess and Rockland Counties, as well as other locations throughout the state claim these supplemental benefits.
For the sake of this blog we will only be discussing motor vehicle accidents in which the person making supplemental claims is protected under an insurance policy from the household they live within. There are other protections for those who don’t have any applicable insurance coverage but that discussion will be held for another time. First, we will discuss the situation where you are in a motor vehicle accident with another vehicle that was uninsured. You may find out the vehicle was uninsured at the accident site or maybe later on it is discovered that the insurance company for the offending vehicle is denying coverage among other things for lack of payment by the insured.
So is the injured party out of luck? No. As discussed above they will be protected by any insurance policy that exists for any person living within their household. The policy does not even need to be the one that is actually on the vehicle in the accident. Again it is any automobile insurance policy that exists in your household. The exact amount of possible recovery will be limited to whatever those supplemental uninsurance policy limits may be, but in many cases people insure themselves for limits in excess of the state minimum mentioned above. At the Law Offices of Spencer M. Fein we have seen people easily have $250,000.00 uninsurance limits and have seven seen people with as much as $1,000,000.00 limits.
So how do we protect your right to this type of claim? Within 90 days of the accident we ensure that we file a Supplemental Uninsurance Claim with the insurance company. From there, except for a few differences, the claim would proceed as a normal bodily injury claim. Because of this type of protection, it is our recommendation that any individual involved in a motor vehicle accident that was by someone else’s fault in Ossining, White Plains, Yonkers, Bedford Hills, Mt. Kisco or any other place within New York State to contact an attorney as soon as possible after their accident.The Law Offices of Spencer M. Fein, P.C., located in Westchester County, is always available to discuss such situations.
Ok. So the vehicle that caused the accident has insurance but it is inadequate to compensate an injured party for their injuries. What now? Well, as mentioned above in New York if you insure a vehicle it must have supplemental underinsurance. What does this mean in practicality? If it is determined that the injuries you sustained exceed the compensation you can receive from the offending vehicle’s insurance policy you may be able to go to any automobile insurance policy within your household and receive more compensation if such policy holds higher limits. For example, let's say you were involved in an accident in which your car was hit from behind. You sustain numerous personal injuries and require substantial treatment. Then you find out that the car that hit you only has minimal bodily injury benefits for $25,000 per person, but compensation for your injuries exceed this amount. You then realize that the car you occupied (or any other car insured within your household) has supplemental underinsurance limits of $100,000.00 per person.
Just like mentioned above with supplemental uninsurance within 90 days of your accident your attorney will file a supplemental underinsurance with the carrier. However, this type of claim acts a little different. In this type of claim you must exhaust the entire bodily injury limits of the car that caused the accident, then get written permission from the supplemental underinsurance carrier to settle the matter with the offending vehicle and then you can attempt to obtain additional compensation from the underinsurance policy. Now, if litigation needs to be started there are additional rules and procedures that must be adhered to but for the sake of explanation here we will only discuss a straightforward claim that settles before litigation is necessary. Taking the example from above your attorney would need to first get the $25,000.00 policy limit from the vehicle that hit you from behind. Before accepting the $25,000.00 the attorney must also get written permission from the insurance company from the car you occupied to take the $25,000.00 and then proceed with the underinsurance claim. From the policy limits of the underinsurance claim, which in this case is $100,000.00 you must first deduct any amounts received from the policy of the vehicle that hit you from behind ($25,000.00), and then you can attempt to receive up to whatever amount is left, in this example up to $75,000.00.
Now, the actual amounts will vary based on the policies that exist. Another example would be that there is a $50,000.00 bodily injury limit policy on a car that causes an accident but a car within the household you occupy has a $250,000.00 underinsurance policy. Here, you exhaust the $50,000.00 policy, get written permission from the underinsurance company to accept that amount and then can get up to $200,000.00 in additional compensation. Again, the amount of compensation will vary depending on the limits of the policies.
Because of this type of protection, it is our recommendation that any individual involved in a motor vehicle accident that was by someone else’s fault in Ossining, White Plains, Yonkers, Bedford Hills, Mt. Kisco or any other place within New York State to contact an attorney as soon as possible after their accident. The Law Offices of Spencer M. Fein, P.C., located in Westchester County, is always available to discuss such situations.