Accidents by Uninsured and Underinsured Motorists

September 26, 2016

It’s possible to be hit by someone who doesn’t have insurance or enough insurance to cover your claim even though it is a legal requirement of everyone who drives a vehicle to have at least a basic auto insurance policy.  In these circumstances, obtaining compensation for your injuries may be more challenging and the services of an experienced personal injury lawyer will be crucial to your success.

When a Motorist Who Hits You Has No Insurance or Insufficient Insurance

If you are a BC resident who is injured by a motorist with no insurance or insufficient insurance, you will still be able to obtain coverage for your injuries. This is because, in BC, motorists are required to purchase uninsured and underinsured motorist protection as part of their basic auto insurance premium. The purpose of the provision is to provide insurance coverage in the event that you have an accident with an uninsured driver that causes injury to you or damage to your vehicle, with some exceptions.

When the other party has no insurance, your coverage is for up to $200,000 plus legal costs and disbursements for the claim. The coverage is accessed by applying to ICBC under s.20 of the Insurance (Vehicle) Act. If the loss exceeds $200,000 plus legal costs and disbursements for the claim then you can apply for coverage with ICBC under s.148.1 of the Insurance (Vehicle) Act Regulations for underinsured motorist protection (“U.M.P.”).

The basic coverage under U.M.P. is $1 million. You can purchases excess U.M.P. up to $2 million if you want extra insurance protection. You must have purchased the excess U.M.P. prior to having an accident, however, in order for the higher benefit provisions to apply.

Your access to U.M.P. coverage arises by virtue of having a B.C. driver’s license, your own vehicle licensed with ICBC, or by having a family member in your household who owns a vehicle insured by ICBC.

Accessing Payment Under U.M.P.

While U.M.P. is mandatory and important to have, it is rarely accessed by individuals making a claim. This is because most claims are under $200,000 and because U.M.P. coverage is considered an option of last resort. ICBC can require that you take all the steps necessary to try to recover money from the at fault motorist prior to accessing U.M.P. coverage, including obtaining a judgement against the at fault driver after a trial. ICBC can then also force you to undergo arbitration in order to obtain payment under U.M.P..

Additionally, there are several ways in which your maximum U.M.P. claim of $1 million or $2 million may be reduced. For example, the maximum amount available may be reduced where there is a subrogated interest or where amounts will be payable from certain other sources. These include Part 7 Benefits or accident benefits from another jurisdiction, amounts pay or payable by the ICBC under s.20 (uninsured vehicles), s.24 (remedy for damage in a hit and run accident) of the Insurance (Vehicle) Act, and s.148 (uninsured or hit and run accident in Nunavut, Yukon, Northwest Territories or U.S.A.) of the Insurance (Vehicle) Act Regulations. Also, amounts paid under the Workers Compensation Act, the Employment Insurance Act, and the Canada Pension Plan are deducted.

Situations where the U.M.P. will typically apply includes accidents that occur out of the province, especially in the U.S.A., where the third party limits are nearly always $200,000. U.M.P. may also apply in situations where several persons are injured under the same accident claim. Where there are multiple injured persons, the insurance coverage of the at fault driver can be exhausted quickly, resulting in it being necessary to access U.M.P.. There are many complexities to U.M.P. coverage.  If you suspect the motorist who hit you has little or no insurance, an experienced personal injury lawyer can help you obtain the appropriate amount of compensation.

Hiring Spraggs & Co. Injury Lawyers in Burnaby

If you get hurt by an uninsured or underinsured motorist in a car accident, a personal injury lawyer will be able to assist you. At Spraggs & Co., a car accident lawyer in Burnaby can advise you about what insurance protection could apply to your case, including if the at-fault motorist has another form of third party liability insurance that could apply to your case. A lawsuit may be possible even if you share some fault for the accident. Contact our team of lawyers at 604-464-3333.

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