Court Rules That Insurance Company May Not Reduce the Amount of Your Uninsured Motorist Coverage Without Your Consent

In a major victory against an Insurance Company, the Georgia Court of Appeals has found that an Insurance Company may not reduce your Uninsured/Underinsured motor vehicle insurance limits below the amount of your liability insurance coverage unless you give express and affirmative consent.

Under current law (2013) in Georgia, uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage should be the same as the bodily injury coverage in a policy, unless you expressly request an UM/UIM amount lower than your bodily injury coverage.

The case involves an accident that happened in June 2009.  A man and his wife were injured in a serious car accident. The wife eventually died as a result of her injuries. The man sued the other driver for his injuries, as well as his own insurance company for UM/UIM benefits.

The motorist had an insurance policy with bodily injury limits of $100,000, however, his declarations page showed just $50,000 in UM coverage.  For several years, every six months the policy had renewed with the same amount of reduced UM coverage.

In December 2008, the motorist had received a letter from the insurance company stating that he could adjust his UM coverage amount, and that if he did not respond to the letter the carrier would continue to provide the $50,000 in coverage.

The policyholder argued in court that he never affirmatively chose $50,000 in UM coverage and therefore was entitled instead to the statutory default amount of $100,000—the same amount of bodily injury coverage in the man’s policy.

The Appeals Court agreed and reversed a ruling by a trial court judge in favor of the insurance company limiting UM coverage. The Appeals Court found that the evidence simply did not demonstrate that the policyholder affirmatively chose the lesser coverage and ruled he was entitled to the $100,000.

The court determined that the UM coverage amount listed on the Declarations Page alone is not enough to prove that the man affirmatively chose that amount. Nor does the fact that the policy was renewed with the lower amount of UM coverage show his approval either. In fact, the policy renewals should have included the statutory default amount of $100,000, the court noted.

The case is McGraw v. IDS Property & Casualty Ins. Co.

The personal injury attorneys of The Millar Law Firm help people who have been seriously hurt in accidents that weren’t their fault obtain full compensation for their injuries. Let us deal with uncooperative insurance companies while you focus on your health. Contact our attorneys today for a free consultation on your case by calling 404-381-8983 today.

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