Most states, including Oklahoma, have enacted compulsory vehicle insurance laws. While differing in the specific amounts of required liability coverage, the laws generally have the same underlying purposes to protect the public. Thousands of people in this state do no carry Uninsured and/or Underinsured (UM/UIM) insurance on their own vehicles. This is a huge mistake. With the tens of thousands of Oklahomans who do not follow the law and carry insurance and then, in turn, often cause car accidents which cause injuries to other drivers, it is essential that all Oklahomans be sure to carry as much UM/UIM insurance on their own vehicles as possible.
So GET UM Insurance OKLAHOMA!!! Ask your insurance agent if you have it or call your car insurance provider now and add or max-out the coverage. For a few extra dollars a month, you can ensure that you are compensated if you are injured in a car accident due to another driver's negligence or failure to follow the rules of the road.
The "Compulsory Insurance Law of Oklahoma" - 47 O.S. § 7-600 et seq.
Oklahoma law requires three types of liability coverage, 47 O.S. § 7-324:
(1) $25,000 for bodily injury to or death for any one individual in an accident;
(2) $50,000 for bodily injury to or death of two or more individuals in an accident; and
(3) $25,000 for property damage caused to other vehicles or property in an accident.
In Mulford v. Neal, 2011 OK 20, 264 P.3d 1173, the Oklahoma Supreme Court articulated the underlying public policy of the compulsory insurance laws as to establish a comprehensive compulsory liability insurance law for the benefit of the innocent victims of the negligent operation or use of motor vehicles in this state. The court further explained that "the Act's principal purpose is to protect the public using the highways from financial hardship which may result from the use of automobiles by financially irresponsible persons. Any vehicle operating on the Oklahoma highways must hence be secured against liability to innocent victims of the negligent operation of insured vehicles." (quoting Thomas v. National Auto Casualty Ins., 1994 OK 52, 875 P.2d 424, 427).
Despite the compulsory insurance law in place, every motorist on the road does not have at the minimum amount that is required. According to the Insurance Research Council, in some states approximately 25% of drivers are uninsured.
Uninsured Motorist Coverage
Uninsured motorist coverage is intended to provide compensation to an 'insured' person for personal injuries, and sometimes property damage, suffered in an accident involving a motor vehicle operated by another person who is at fault and who does not have auto liability insurance.
Who is Covered by UM
Uninsured motorist coverage has a wide breadth applying to more than the named insured. Rogers v. Goad, 1987 OK 59, 739 P.2d 519, 521. Those covered are categorized as either class one insureds or class two insured.
Class one insureds are the named insured and resident relatives in the named insured's household. Individuals in this category would include spouses and children who were driving the insured vehicle at the time of the accident. This category of individuals are entitled to the benefits of all policies for which premiums have been paid.
Class two insureds are permissive users and occupants of an insured vehicle. Unlike class one insureds, individuals categorized as class two are only entitled to coverage under the specific policy covering that vehicle at the time of the accident and may not stack policies under which they are not insured. Babock v. Adkins, 1983 OK 84, 695 P.2d 1340, 1343.
Simply put, class one insureds are entitled to a broader range of benefits compared to class two insureds.
Underinsured Motorist Coverage
Underinsured motorist coverage is similar to uninsured motorist coverage but the insurance held by the other driver at fault is insufficient to fully compensate the injured party for his or her losses. Rather than having no liability insurance, as an uninsured motorist, underinsured motorist coverage is triggered when the injured party's losses exceed the other driver's liability coverage.
For example, the injured party incurs $75,000 in medical bills and other losses and the other driver's liability limits is $50,000. Thus, UM insurance would generally be triggered and cover the injured party's remaining $25,000 in losses. Stated another way, if the injured party does have UIM coverage, he or she would have to pay the remaining balances of medical bills and/or property damage out of their own pocket.
Oklahoma's Uninsured Motorist Statute - 36 O.S. § 3636
Usually when purchasing vehicle insurance, UM/UIM coverage must be waived by signing a form similar to the one below.
OKLAHOMA UNINSURED MOTORIST COVERAGE LAW
Oklahoma law gives you the right to buy Uninsured Motorist coverage in the same amount as your bodily injury liability coverage. THE LAW REQUIRES US TO ADVISE YOU OF THIS VALUABLE RIGHT FOR THE PROTECTION OF YOU, MEMBERS OF YOUR FAMILY, AND OTHER PEOPLE WHO MAY BE HURT WHILE RIDING IN YOUR INSURED VEHICLE. YOU SHOULD SERIOUSLY CONSIDER BUYING THIS COVERAGE IN THE SAME AMOUNT AS YOUR LIABILITY INSURANCE COVERAGE LIMIT.
Uninsured Motorist coverage, unless otherwise provided in your policy, pays for bodily injury damages to you, members of your family who live with you, and other people riding in your car who are injured by: (1) an uninsured motorist, (2) a hit-and-run motorist, or (3) an insured motorist who does not have enough liability insurance to pay for bodily injury damages to any insured person. Uninsured Motorist coverage, unless otherwise provided in your policy, protects you and family members who live with you while riding in any vehicle or while a pedestrian. THE COST OF THIS COVERAGE IS SMALL COMPARED WITH THE BENEFITS!
You may make one of four choices about Uninsured Motorist Coverage by indicating below what Uninsured Motorist coverage you want:
_____ I want the same amount of Uninsured Motorist coverage as my bodily injury liability coverage.
____ I want minimum Uninsured Motorist coverage $25,000.00 per person/$50,000.00 per occurrence.
____ I want Uninsured Motorist coverage in the following amount:
$______________ per person/$_________________ per occurrence.
____ I want to reject Uninsured Motorist coverage.
Contact Nix Law Group Attorneys
If you or a family-member has been involved in a motor vehicle accident and would like to find out more information about your rights, please contact the motor vehicle accident attorneys of the Nix Law Group in Edmond, OK today.