Uninsured and Underinsured Motorist Coverage in Louisiana

Joe goes into his insurance agent’s office to purchase auto insurance on his new car.  He purchases “full coverage” with liability limits of $100K/$250K.  His deductible is $1,000 per month.  When his agent asks him if he wants UM ("Uninsured Motorist") coverage for an additional $800 per month, Joe scoffs – what is UM coverage and why would I almost double my bill?

Uninsured Underinsured Motorist Coverage in LouisianaJane is in the same situation.  Except, when she is asked if she wants to buy UM coverage, Jane says, “Yes!” 

Jane knows that UM coverage provides her protection in case of an injury where (1) the at-fault driver has no insurance or (2) the at-fault driver does not have enough insurance. 

In Louisiana, almost 15% of Louisiana driver’s on our roadways do not have insurance at all.   And, another 40% only have the state minimum coverage of $15,000 per person and $30,000 per accident. 

So, Jane knows that in a state where 65% of drivers have minimum coverage or less, she must protect herself by purchasing UM coverage.  UM coverage provides you additional coverage for any injuries sustained in a wreck when the at-fault party has no coverage or not enough coverage. 

UM coverage gives you the ability to take personal responsibility knowing that others fail to do so. 

How Much Liability and Underinsured/Uninsured Motorist Coverage Should You Carry?

Recently, we had an opportunity to review one of our client’s personal insurance policies, and two things immediately jumped out – we wanted you to be aware in case you are in the same boat!

First, the client did have uninsured/underinsured motorist (UM) coverage.  This is coverage you purchase to protect yourself and your family in case another driver either does not have insurance or does not have enough insurance to pay your damages.  Most people skip this coverage because it does cost extra and is not required.  So, good for the client having this coverage.  However, the client only had minimum limit UM coverage (which in Louisiana, is tied to how much liability coverage a person has).  And, that was because of reason two.

THE CLIENT HAD ONLY MINIMUM COVERAGE.  I understand - minimum coverage is cheaper and it is all the State of Louisiana requires you carry.  But, should you?  

I am not an insurance agent and I know insurance in Louisiana is expensive.  But, I also know even minor car collisions can result in thousands of dollars of medical bills, pain and suffering, lost wages, and other economic and non-economic damages.  Plus, if you are not adequately insured and have substantial assets (like a house, bank account, stocks, mutual funds, boats, camps, etc.), a judgment in excess of the insurance policy can require you to personally pay the amount over the insurance policy.  Who wants that? All you worked for – gone because of a car crash!

Plus – and this is why it’s important to evaluate how much insurance you carry – the more liability coverage you carry, the more UM coverage you can carry.  Why is this important?  Most drivers in Louisiana only carry the minimum.  Remember all those medical bills, pain and suffering, lost wages and other damages we talked about before – if you are seriously hurt in a crash because of another driver and they only have the minimum and you only have the minimum – will you be able to recover financially?

I cannot tell anyone what specifically they should carry as their coverage, but this is what I generally recommend – carry as much insurance (liability and UM) as you can afford.  All it takes is one bad crash for your policy to pay for itself 10 times over.

Unfortunately, if you don’t, all it takes is one crash for you to lose everything you’ve worked for.

How Does UM Coverage Protect You?

Uninsured Motorist coverage also gives you some legal protections in case of an injury. 

Your UM insurer owes you a duty of good faith and fair dealing.  

Your UM insurer will be required to pay on your UM claim once you prove:

  • the uninsured or underinsured status of the owner or operator of the automobile that caused the accident;
  • the fault of the owner or operator of that automobile;
  • the damage resulting from such fault; and,
  • the extent of those injures.

Send your UM insurer your medical records proves your damages and injuries.  Once the UM insurer receives proof of your claim, it has 30 days to pay you the limits of your UM policy or make an “unconditional tender.”  An unconditional tender is a “no-strings-attached” payment on your claim based on the extent of your damages. 

If your UM insurer fails to abide by its duty of good faith and fair dealing, the UM insurer can be assessed penalties and attorney fees

Do you have UM coverage?  For a FREE automobile policy review to see if you are protecting yourself and your family, please write to Loyd at [email protected].

If you have been in an auto wreck and suffered a disabling injury, let our team help you navigate the process.  We excel at fighting back against bullies who want you to accept less than you should!  Call us today at (985) 240-9773.

Loyd J. Bourgeois
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Disability, Personal Injury, and Divorce Attorney
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