As a driver in Alabama, it’s important to carry uninsured or underinsured motorist (UM) coverage on your vehicle. Simply put, UM coverage is a contractual agreement between you and your insurance company, which allows the insurance company to provide benefits to you for any injuries sustained during an accident involving a driver without insurance coverage on their own vehicle. UM coverage not only protects you from uninsured motorists in your vehicle, but also covers you personally for any accident involving an uninsured motorist, including accidents in someone else’s vehicle, and even some pedestrian accidents.
The most common instance of an uninsured driver is someone who doesn’t carry liability insurance on their vehicle. Some people choose to take a risk and don’t carry insurance at all, while others no longer carry insurance due to lack of payment, resulting in a cancellation of whichever policy they had in the first place. This is incredibly common in Alabama, thus the State Legislature passed a law in 2016 that recently, finally, came into effect on November 1st. This law increases fines for uninsured drivers in an attempt to also increase the number of insured vehicles on the roadway.
Other reasons vehicles can be considered uninsured, even if there is a valid insurance policy, vary slightly. This happens mainly through what are called exclusions within some insurance policies. The policy itself states that, under certain circumstances, the insurance company will not provide coverage because that driver is excluded from the insurance policy in some way. Two of the most common exclusions are excluded and unlisted drivers.
Excluded Versus Unlisted Drivers
An excluded driver is someone that is specifically named in the insurance policy as someone who is not covered, such as a family member who is a high-risk driver, thus they are more expensive to insure in the first place.
An unlisted driver is usually seen as someone who resides with the vehicle owner, is not listed on the policy, but is driving the vehicle at the time of the accident.
It is important to note that not all insurance companies offer these types of exclusions.
What if the driver has a suspended or revoked driver’s license, but causes an accident? How about an accident with a stolen vehicle? What about intentional wrecks, in an effort to commit insurance fraud? In some cases, these will be considered as insurance exclusions. We suggest speaking with your insurance company for questions on exclusions in your policy; not all policies are the same, and some are very limited in this aspect.
A Foolproof System
Under Alabama State law, it’s mandated that insurance companies provide UM coverage unless you specifically reject it; this entails signing a rejection form from your insurance agent or provider. It is important that you don’t reject this coverage, not only to protect yourself from the frightfully large number of uninsured motorists on the roadway, but also to protect any family member or friends who might drive your vehicle.
We have personal injury and car accident lawyers serving the state of Alabama, including the cities of Birmingham, Huntsville, Montgomery, and Mobile. If you or a loved one has been injured due to an uninsured or underinsured motorist’s negligence, call the offices of Morris Bart & Associates today.