If a motorist is involved in an accident with an underinsured motorist, and that person doesn’t have any additional underinsured coverage, then he or she may only recover what the tortfeasor has, as far as level of insurance coverage. If the other driver does not have any insurance coverage at all, the motorist is going to have to figure out whether or not it’s worth it to pursue the uninsured driver individually for a tort recovery in a court of law.
What generally happens in these cases is a qualified attorney will analyze the tortfeasor’s (the person who caused the accident) assets and try to determine whether or not that person is going to have anything that could be used to pay for damages. In underinsured coverage cases, the procedure is a little different. Once it is determined the person who caused the accident has a minimal policy that will not cover a very large claim, the next step is to obtain an offer from the insurance carrier for the person who caused the accident. Once the injured individual has obtained that offer of settlement of policy limits from the insurance company for the at-fault person, Kansas law requires that the individual’s own insurance company also be notified. This is done so they have an opportunity to review this possible settlement and make some decisions as to whether or not they will allow the injured person to go ahead and settle with the liability insurance carrier.
It’s a rather complex process, but simply put, the individual’s own insurance company has to give permission before a claim is settled with the at-fault person’s insurance company. This really should not be done without the assistance of an attorney.
The injured person should always notify his or her own insurance company immediately upon understanding that it is either an uninsured or underinsured motorist situation. If there is a delay in notifying the insurance company about the uninsured or underinsured situation and that delay compromises his or her own insurance company’s right to pursue their remedies, benefits may be lost under the uninsured and underinsured policy.
Most of the time, someone will find out on the scene of an accident if the at-fault driver is uninsured or underinsured. Another common way this comes to light is when they get a copy of the police report. The third most often way they find out is when the insurance company that was listed by the person who caused the accident says the individual had insurance at one point in time, but that policy was cancelled before the accident. That can sometimes be 30 to 60 days after the incident occurred.
The only pushback that someone might get from his or her own own insurance company is a disagreement with respect to the value of the claim. Other than that, the insurance company is situated to pay any and all types of UIM/UM claims.