Earlier this year, a state appellate court issued a written opinion in a New Hampshire motorcycle accident case discussing whether the plaintiff was entitled to underinsured motorist coverage. Ultimately, the court concluded that a clause in the insurance policy was not valid or enforceable. The provision required the plaintiff to obtain a certain amount of underlying insurance as a condition of the uninsured motorist benefits outlined in the plan. As a result of the court’s finding, it held that the insurance company could be liable for the plaintiff’s injuries under the policy.
According to the court’s opinion, the plaintiff was involved in a New Hampshire motorcycle accident when an SUV struck him. The plaintiff claimed that the other driver was at fault, and that while that driver had an insurance policy, the policy limits were insufficient to cover the plaintiff’s injuries. The plaintiff maintained two insurance policies on the motorcycle, one with Allstate and one with the defendant. Thus, the plaintiff filed a claim with Allstate, under the underinsured motorist provision (UIM) of his policy. The limits of this policy were $25,000/$50,000.
The plaintiff, believing that his injuries exceeded the amount of compensation provided through the other two policies, filed a claim with the defendant insurance company seeking additional coverage under the UIM provision. However, the policy with the defendant insurance company contained an endorsement, requiring the plaintiff to obtain a certain amount of underlying insurance as a precondition to the UIM benefits outlined in the policy. Thus, the insurance company denied coverage. The plaintiff initiated this case to compel the insurance company to cover the claim.
The question for the court was whether the clause in the insurance policy requiring the plaintiff to obtain a certain amount of underlying coverage, if not satisfied, could prevent the plaintiff from getting UIM benefits. The court held that it could not. The court explained that, while insurers can limit the extent of their liability, such limitations must be within the bounds of the law.
Here, the court held that the contractual provision conflicted with the state law requiring insurance companies provide UIM coverage “equal to the limits of liability purchased unless the named insured rejects such coverage in writing.” The court explained that because the policy did not place a precondition on liability coverage, and only on UIM coverage, the plan provided different levels of coverage for liability and UIM benefits, in violation of the statute. Thus, the court concluded that the clause could not be given any legal effect.
Are You Involved in a New Hampshire Insurance Dispute?
If you or a loved one has recently been involved in a New Hampshire motor vehicle accident, and are still working through the red tape imposed by insurance companies, contact Peter Thompson & Associates. Attorney Peter Thompson has assembled a skillful team of New Hampshire personal injury attorneys to assist clients in all types of claims, including New Hampshire car accident cases. To learn more about how our Portsmouth law firm can help you pursue the compensation you deserve for the injuries you have sustained, call 800-804-2004 today.