Insurance Coverage Basics for Montana Accident Victims
When you’ve been in a car accident, one of the most important things to consider are different insurance policies and the type of coverage that is provided. Liability coverage, for example, will be at issue when a third party is at fault. The easy example is someone who blows a stoplight and t-bones your car. That person (a/k/a the “tortfeasor” in legal parlance) will hopefully have enough liability coverage to cover your injuries. If the tortfeasor does not have adequate coverage, then your own underinsured motorist (UIM) will be triggered. Or if the tortfeasor doesn’t have any liability coverage, then your uninsured motorist (UM) coverage will be triggered. It’s important to contact a lawyer though because a lawyer like Philip McGrady can help you understand things such as “stacking,” which allows you to combine insurance coverage on multiple cars in certain situations.
UM and UIM Defined
Just so it’s clear, uninsured motorist (UM) coverage provides recovery to the victim of an automobile accident who is legally entitled to recover from a tortfeasor but cannot recover because the tortfeasor has no insurance coverage. Underinsured motorist (UIM) coverage provides recovery to an automobile accident victim injured by a tortfeasor with inadequate insurance. Uninsured/underinsured motorist (UM/UIM) coverage does not create a new right in the insured to sue an uninsured/underinsured motorist; rather it creates a new procedure by which an insured may recover losses from the insurer.
Montana Laws regarding Uninsured and Underinsured Coverage
Montana’s mandatory uninsured motorist coverage statute, § 33-23-201, MCA, requires all motor vehicle liability insurance policies issued in this state to include uninsured motorist coverage unless the named insured rejects such coverage. It does not exclude any class of vehicle. Bartell v. Am. Home Assur. Co., 2002 MT 145, 310 Mont. 276, 278, 49 P.3d 623, 624.
Montana’s Mandatory Minimums for Liability Coverage
Montana law provides as follows:
(1) A motor vehicle liability policy must:
(a) designate by explicit description or by appropriate reference all motor vehicles with respect to the coverage to be granted; and
(b) insure the person named in the policy and any other person, as insured, using any motor vehicle or motor vehicles with the express or implied permission of the named insured, against loss from the liability imposed by law for damages arising out of the ownership, maintenance, or use of the motor vehicle or motor vehicles within the United States of America or Canada, subject to limits exclusive of interest and costs, with respect to each motor vehicle, as follows:
(i) $25,000 because of bodily injury to or death of one person in any one accident and subject to the limit for one person;
(ii) $50,000 because of bodily injury to or death of two or more persons in any one accident; and
(iii) $10,000 because of injury to or destruction of property of others in any one accident.
Mont. Code Ann. § 61-6-103
The different types of coverage and when the different types are triggered can get confusing, and that’s why it’s important to talk with a Montana lawyer with experience in dealing with these types of cases.