If you are not familiar with uninsured or underinsured motorist coverage, then above title may not mean much to you. If you have auto insurance, you have the option to purchase uninsured or underinsured coverage, which provides you coverage for bodily injuries should the driver that hit you not have insurance or not have enough insurance coverage, depending on the severity of the injury. If you involved in a car accident with a driver without insurance and are injured, this type of insurance coverage is used to pay your medical bills, lost wages and for any pain and suffering and/or disfigurement. Often times, I have been able to settle these types of cases for my clients without going to an arbitration. If settlement with the insurance carrier is not possible, then we appoint an arbitrator and the insurance company appoints an arbitrator and the two then pick a third, neutral arbitrator. A hearing is then held where the arbitrator issues an award. The hearing (or arbitration) is similar to a trial except there is no jury and the amount of witnesses is limited as evidentiary requirements are waived for certain things like medical bills, medical records and photographs. This is a quicker and less expensive way to adjudicate a case.
This week, Governor Quinn signed House Bill 5575, which raises the limits for the right to reject arbitration awards under underinsured/uninsured motorist insurance policies by 50%. The old limits were $50,000/$100,000 and are now raised to $75,000/$150,000. Previously, the insurance companies could reject an award for an individual that was over $50,000 if the policy limits were only $50,000. Now the insurance companies would only be able to reject an award if it was over $75,000. You can read the entire bill by clicking here.
This is a victory for those who are seriously injured in car accidents by drivers who do not have insurance or are underinsured. I cannot stress how important it is for drivers to purchase full coverage insurance. You never know if the other driver who causes the car accident has insurance or not. What if you are injured by an uninsured motorist and unable work and support your family? Purchase full coverage, so you know you and your family will be protected.