As soon as I find out who the at-fault driver is in a particular car accident, I first need to know whether the at-fault driver carries bodily injury coverage. Without bodily injury coverage, the at-fault driver becomes an “Uninsured Motorist”. In the state of Colorado, everyone is required to carry $25,000 in BI coverage. However, some people end up not being able to pay their premiums or their insurance is canceled. When this happens, these drivers are considered to be “uninsured”.. What happens if an uninsured driver hits you and is at fault? If you are injured by an uninsured driver, then you have no real recourse except to fall back on your own Uninsured Motorist coverage. The problem is that Uninsured Motorist coverage is not mandatory in Colorado so a lot of people are not encouraged to purchase this type of coverage by their insurance agents. So, if you are injured or killed by an uninsured motorist and did not purchase this coverage, you are out of luck! There is really nothing you can do in this situation but I hope that you also have health insurance or Medicaid to cover your medical bills.
In any event, this article is not about Uninsured motorists but this is a big issue in Colorado and all over the country. My real point today is that the at-fault driver’s insurance company will not reveal their Bodily Injury limits unless a lawsuit is filed. This, unfortunately, favors the insurance companies as the plaintiff’s attorneys and the injured victims rightfully want to know how much insurance is carried by the at-fault driver. In Florida, the Florida legislature saw that this was an unfair advantage to the insurance companies, encouraged litigation and discouraged pre-suit settlements, and felt that there should be a law on this issue. Accordingly, in Florida, they passed a statute that reads as follows and requires the insurance companies to tell you within 30 days how much coverage is available to the at-fault driver:
627.4137 Disclosure of certain information required.—
(1) Each insurer which does or may provide liability insurance coverage to pay all or a portion of any claim which might be made shall provide, within 30 days of the written request of the claimant, a statement, under oath, of a corporate officer or the insurer’s claims manager or superintendent setting forth the following information with regard to each known policy of insurance, including excess or umbrella insurance:
(a) The name of the insurer.
(b) The name of each insured.
(c) The limits of the liability coverage.
(d) A statement of any policy or coverage defense which such insurer reasonably believes is available to such insurer at the time of filing such statement.
(e) A copy of the policy.
In addition, the insured, or her or his insurance agent, upon written request of the claimant or the claimant’s attorney, shall disclose the name and coverage of each known insurer to the claimant and shall forward such request for information as required by this subsection to all affected insurers. The insurer shall then supply the information required in this subsection to the claimant within 30 days of receipt of such request.
(2) The statement required by subsection (1) shall be amended immediately upon discovery of facts calling for an amendment to such statement.
(3) Any request made to a self-insured corporation pursuant to this section shall be sent by certified mail to the registered agent of the disclosing entity.
So, Florida rightfully requires the at-fault driver’s insurance company to reveal the limits of bodily injury coverage when requested to do so by the claimant or the claimant’s attorney. This should be the law in Colorado and every state as it lets the injured victim know if there will be enough insurance available to cover medical bills, pain and suffering, etc. Also, it allows an injured victim to know if they should notify their own insurance company in regards to their Uninsured/Underinsured Motorist Coverage (if the injured victim wisely chose to purchase this coverage). Why the legislature in Colorado has not adopted such a statute in Colorado does not make a lot of sense. A lot of insurance companies will tell you right away if the policy is only a $25,000 policy but choose to hide the fact that they have more than that coverage if that is the situation. This only encourages litigation as an injured victim in Colorado can only find out BI limits by filing a lawsuit and going through the discovery process. If the insurance companies would only reveal this information right away, then this would discourage the immediate filing of personal injury lawsuits in Colorado.