Where and how to find potential sources of insurance coverage in motor vehicle accidents.
UnInsured/Underinsured coverage provided by your own motor vehicle insurance company(ies)
In motor vehicle accidents its very important to determine early on in the case all of the potential sources of insurance coverage. One frequently overlooked area is uninsured/underinsured coverage (aka "UM/UIM coverage" or "UM/UMBI coverage" in some States) with your own motor vehicle insurance company. This is what is commonly known as "first party insurance coverage" and is obtained through one's own insurance company. Therefore, one should always check with your own motor vehicle insurance company or companies to determine if you have any UM/UIM coverage on any your motor vehicles. In doing so, my firm has found its not enough to simply ask the client (the injured party) if they have UM/UIM coverage as many people simply don't know or can't recall. Rather, it is always best to submit a written request to each insurance company that provides any motor vehicle insurance for the client. In making such request, it's also a good idea to ask for the actual insurance application because if the insurance company's records show there is no UM/UIM coverage, by law in many States the insurance company must have records showing the insurance company offered UM/UIM coverage and that the insurance applicant elected not to obtain such coverage. If the insurance company cannot produce such written proof that UM/UIM coverage was offered and denied, then the law in some States requires that UM/UIM coverage be extended.
Resident Relative Coverage
Another important source for potential insurance coverage in a motor vehicle accident is through insurance policies that may have provided UM/UIM coverage to any "resident relatives" of the injured party. In my home State of Hawaii, the term "Resident relative" is defined to mean a person who, at the time of the accident, is related by blood, marriage, or adoption to the named insured or resident spouse and who resides in the named insured's household, even if temporarily living elsewhere, and any ward or foster child who usually resides with the named insured, even if living elsewhere". Thus, under this definition the injured party could be a college student that is temporarily away from home to attend college or to participate in an internship or work training program. There are several factors that will have to be examined in this regard to determine whether or not someone qualifies as a "resident relative", such as whether the person that is away intended to return home after their temporary absence, whether the person that is away kept some of their belongings at the alleged resident's relative's home or whether they took all their belongings with them when they left and whether or not the person that is away continued to receive any financial support from the alleged resident relative. This is a rather complicated and involved area of the law and therefore, it is best to have an attorney with specific experience in this area of insurance law to assist you in determining whether or not you have any UM/UIM coverage, to correspond with the insurance companies, to conduct necessary research and to analyze and interpret relevant policy language.
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