By Andrew R. Bronsnick
When handling injury matters, Mandelbaum Barrett PC excels in our ability to communicate and negotiate with insurance providers and secure maximum compensation for clients. Oftentimes, success depends upon uncovering other insurance coverage and presenting ambiguous policy language to the courts.
We advise all our automobile accident clients of the importance of an auto insurance policy that offers proper protection for uninsured (UM) and underinsured motorist coverage (UIM). UM is part of a car insurance policy that provides compensation for injuries if the other driver is not insured; UIM provides protection for injuries if the other driver has a minimal or inadequate insurance coverage.
A recent decision in the Superior Court of New Jersey illustrates how these policy details can determine who pays the settlements and the amounts.
In December of 2015, a motorcyclist was injured while driving in New Jersey and the injuries were estimated at $1 million. Prior to settling with the other driver for his policy limit of $25,000, the plaintiff submitted a UIM claim under three insurance policies, including his UIM insurance:
- a motorcycle policy issued by Rider Insurance Company
- a commercial auto policy issued by Farmers Insurance Company
- a personal UIM auto policy issued by GEICO for the injured party.
Rider and Farmers wanted GEICO to pay its pro-rata share of the $975,000 (after credit of $25,000) settlement in an effort to reduce their losses. GEICO argued that its policy language excluded having to compensate for the motorcycle since it was not covered under the plaintiff’s auto policy.
This case is noteworthy because it demonstrates a key action of an effective injury lawyer – uncovering other insurance companies to secure a more adequate settlement amount. Additionally, the Superior Court found GEICO’s policy language ambiguous – finding it did “not make clear there may be a difference between an insured auto and a motor vehicle for purposes of UM or UIM coverage.”
The Rider policy provided $100,000 of UIM coverage, the Farmers policy provided $1,000,000 in UIM coverage, and the GEICO policy ultimately provided UIM coverage of $250,000.
Cavemen and geckos may lead the insurance industry’s best marketing campaigns, but be forewarned: The ads featuring those characters are designed to get you to buy some of the worst insurance policies. A $25,000 policy will likely not be enough to cover your injuries nor other parties should you end up on either side of a bad collision. Saving hundreds up front on a policy may cost you thousands out-of-pocket. That’s why Mandelbaum Barrett PC often advises clients not to buy insurance coverage that’s too low – you must have proper protection if you cause an injury or if you become an injury victim.
We have over nine decades of success litigating injury claims and negotiating with insurance providers to secure maximum compensation. This way, injured victims and their families can focus on recovery and not financial burdens.
If you or a loved one has been injured in a New Jersey auto accident, you need an experienced lawyer to present your injuries against insurance companies and in courts throughout New Jersey.
We’ll take the time to carefully gather and evaluate all evidence, travel to and examine the site of the collision and interview witnesses. We’ll review all medical records, whether from your doctor or from physicians chosen by your insurance carrier or the Workers’ Compensation insurance provider. We’ll also prepare and file any required documents and serve as your voice and advocate in all court proceedings, including any appeals.