Q. Is underinsured motorist coverage required in Missouri?
A. Underinsured motorist coverage is optional. This means that you only have that coverage if you pay a premium. While all insurance policies issued in Missouri provide uninsured motorist coverage, only those policies for which a premium is paid will provide underinsured motorist coverage.
Q. What is the purpose of underinsured motorist coverage?
A. The purpose of underinsured motorist coverage is to provide you, your family and the passengers of your vehicle with additional bodily injury coverage when the at-fault party causing your accident had insurance, but not enough to cover your injuries or coverage in an amount less than your underinsured motorist coverage limits.
Q. What is an underinsured motor vehicle?
A. Every automobile policy which has underinsured motorist coverage will contain a definition of an underinsured motor vehicle. Generally, an underinsured motor vehicle is defined in either one of two ways.
- First, your policy may define an underinsured motor vehicle as one which is insured but its coverage is less than your damages.
- Secondly, some policies define an underinsured motor vehicle as one which is insured but its limits are less than your underinsured motorist coverage. As to the latter definition, the claim becomes more complicated when the at-fault parties insurance coverage is not less than but equal to your underinsured motorist coverage.
For Example: the at-fault party may carry $25,000 in coverage and you may have $25,000 in underinsured motorist coverage. In that instance, you are entitled to your underinsured motorist coverage by operation of statute which makes your coverage excess to that of the negligent party. However, if the at-fault party carries $50,000 in coverage and you also carry $50,000 in underinsured motorist coverage, further investigation is necessary. Sometimes your underinsured motorist coverage will be considered excess and sometimes it will not, depending on an overall reading of the entire contract with the insurance you have purchased. Usually, only a personal injury attorney who handles underinsured motorist claims on a regular basis will be able to make that determination.