While standard uninsured motorist policies provide coverage for hit-and-run accidents, the specific language used by insurers may be different. For example, let's take two insurance companies. One insurance company policy provides damages when an uninsured motor vehicle “hits” the insured vehicle. The other insurance company policy provides coverage when an uninsured motor vehicle “strikes” the insured vehicle. It is important to be aware of the part where coverage comes into play. That way, you will know what to expect as the insured party.
Uninsured motorist coverage
What is uninsured motorist (UM) coverage? It's coverage that will help pay for your medical bills and other out of pocket expenses when you are in an accident where the at-fault party has no insurance. This insurance helps protect you from the negligent actions of other drivers. How do you get UM coverage? You may get it by the following:
- First, you are eligible for UM coverage when the uninsured vehicle physically contacts your insured vehicle.
- Second, UM coverage is available for you when part of the uninsured vehicle physically contacts your insured vehicle.
- Third, an accident is covered if the uninsured vehicle puts force in a chain reaction situation through an intermediate object which mobilizes the intermediate vehicle strike your insured vehicle.
How does the Kentucky Supreme Court decide when to use uninsured motorist coverage?
The Kentucky Supreme Court has been using the integral part test in deciding whether there should be a UM coverage in cases. For example, one case involved an unknown driver of a flatbed truck, which was carrying a large tarpaulin, tarp. The truck was traveling right in front of the insured car. The tarp flew from the flatbed truck, got caught on the insured’s vehicle and wrapped itself on the left-hand side of the insured’s vehicle from the front to the driver’s side door. The insured driver pulled over to a truck stop to remove the tarp from their vehicle. As the insured driver was removing the tarp, their slipped and fell on the tarp injuring their back. The insured driver sought UM coverage from State Farm claiming that their injuries were the result of a hit-and-run accident with an unknown driver. State Farm denied coverage.
Since there was no direct physical contact for the case above, the court had to resort to analyzing whether the tarp was an integral part of the uninsured vehicles. The court referred to the definition of the word "integral" in the Merriam-Webster dictionary. It means “essential to completeness” or “formed as a unit with another part.” With this definition in mind, the tarp was not integral to the vehicle. The court concluded there was no UM coverage for the insured driver's case.
As a Kentucky Accident Attorney, I suggest that you talk with your insurance agent about your coverage. If you don't have UM coverage, you can ask them what your options are and how much more it could cost to add UM to your coverage. If you don't understand something along the way, please ask your agent. They are there to help you, and this will help you better understand your insurance coverage.