During the initial interview of our personal injury clients, after asking all the obvious questions concerning the facts surrounding the injury, we ask the clients about their own automobile coverage. The typical response is “Why do you want to know that, it was the other person’s fault?” Most of the time, the clients state “We have full coverage.” Nevertheless, we ask them to bring in all of their insurance policies. They may have full coverage for their automobile, but not for their own injuries.
Many times, potential defendants will give the investigating officer some evidence of insurance and later we learn the insurance coverage has lapsed or was fraudulently given at the time of the accident. Many times, the potential defendant has the statutory minimum for insurance; in Missouri the statutory minimum for automobile insurance is $25,000.00 of coverage per person and $50,000.00 of coverage total per accident. This is similar to the majority of states, but many states require less.
If you are in an accident and are taken by ambulance, go through the emergency room and spend only one night in the hospital, the $25,000.00 statutory required minimum is gone. If you have group health insurance or Medicare, eventually they will seek to be reimbursed for what they have paid on your medical bills.
All policies in Missouri require a minimum of coverage, which, as stated above is $25,000.00 per person and $50,000.00 per accident. These amounts are designed to protect you if the motorist who causes your injuries has no insurance. As stated above, however, $25,000.00 is a pitifully small amount if the injuries are serious.
Another form of available coverage, which is comparatively cheap, is underinsured motorist coverage. This coverage affords protection for you if the other driver has the minimum amount of coverage and your injuries exceed the amount.
Policies differ, and the state of the law is currently in flux as to whether insurance companies may enforce what are known as “set off” provisions in underinsured motorist coverage. You should carry increased amount of uninsured and underinsured motorist coverage to protect you against injuries caused by motorists who have no insurance, or the minimum required by law.