Uninsured and Underinsured Motorist Accidents
While it is illegal to drive one’s vehicle without insurance in Nevada, many drivers still choose to ignore this requirement, leaving an accident victim to question what to do if there is no coverage for a loss. In other situations, a driver only carries minimum limits coverage which is insufficient to cover an injured victim’s expenses. Purchasing your own uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage is the most effective way to shield yourself from the pitfalls of uninsured or underinsured drivers.
How Does Uninsured and Underinsured Motorist Coverage Work if I am Supposed to File a Claim Against the At-Fault Driver?
In a perfect world, the person who injures you has adequate insurance coverage to pay for your losses. This is not always the case, however. If the driver was uninsured or underinsured, you will need to turn to your own policy for additional coverage. These policy benefits are guaranteed by contract and can be recovered in addition to whatever policy is available from the at-fault driver.
What is the Minimum Insurance Coverage in Nevada?
Under Nevada state law, all drivers are required to carry a minimum of $25,000.00 in bodily injury coverage per person/$50,000.00 in coverage per accident for two or more persons. This coverage is often grossly inadequate to compensate a personal injury victim. In the event you are stuck with a liable driver who only has this minimum coverage, it is important to have coverage under your insurance policy to make up the difference. These additional coverages you can purchase include medical payments coverage (medpay) and uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage.
Medical expenses can add up quickly, especially if hospitalization is involved. It is not uncommon to pay tens of thousands of dollars in medical expenses upfront for ambulance transport and initial hospitalization after an accident. Those costs alone will eat up the majority of a minimum limits policy without consideration for additional therapy, evaluations by physicians, diagnostic testing, future medical treatment, and prescription costs. Thus, without additional uninsured or underinsured motorist coverage, you risk not having the assets available to fully compensate you for your losses.
Will My Insurance Company Low Ball Me Like the At-Fault Driver?
While your insurer certainly has an incentive to minimize your claim, your insurer is also obligated by statute to treat your claim with a certain level of reasonable claims handling. Those obligations are outlined in NRS 686A.310 and engaging in any of the activities outlined in the statute can subject your insurer to damages resulting therefrom. Common acts considered to be “unfair” claims handling include:
- Misrepresenting pertinent facts or insurance policy provisions relating to coverag
- Failing to acknowledge and act reasonably promptly upon communication with respect to claims arising under the policy
- Failing to affirm or deny coverage of claims within a reasonable time after proof of loss has been submitted
- Compelling insured to institute litigation to recover amounts due under a policy by offering substantially less than what can ultimately be recovered
- Failing to provide promptly to an insured a reasonable explanation for the denial of a claim or for an offer to settle or compromise a claim
Your insurer can also be liable for “bad faith” damages in how they adjust your claim. The obligation and duty of good faith and fair dealing attaches to every contract, and when your insurer denies your claim without a reasonable basis, it can subject itself to bad faith litigation. Bad faith damages are in addition to the damages you can traditionally get in an auto accident case and include the potential for punitive damages. Thus, it is important to hire an experienced attorney to handle any claim made against your own insurer to evaluate the claims handling process and ensure that you are getting proper compensation and treatment.