The Perils Of Rejecting “Stacking” UM Coverage For Your Auto Insurance Policy
We have all filled out Internet forms that require us to check certain boxes and read the fine print. Most of us simply check the box without bothering to carefully read or consider what we have just agreed to. Unfortunately, when it comes to something like purchasing auto insurance, failing to pay attention may prove costly to you–or in some cases, your estate.
Judge Rejects Estate’s Lawsuit Against Allstate Over Policy Limits
A recent decision from a federal judge in Tampa, Pflug v. Allstate Fire and Casualty Insurance Company, provides a cautionary example. This case involved a fatal auto accident that killed a woman. The other driver was at-fault for the accident.
The victim’s estate then sued her own insurance company. The victim had an auto insurance policy issued by the defendant (Allstate) that included uninsured motorist (UM) coverage. UM coverage is designed to provide benefits when a negligent driver lacks sufficient insurance to fully compensate the victim–or in this case the victim’s estate–for their damages arising from an accident.
Under Florida law, UM coverage is optional. That is to say, you do not have to buy UM coverage as part of your mandatory personal injury protection (PIP) policy. But the law does require the insurance company to offer such coverage in an amount equal to the bodily injury coverage on the underlying policy. This coverage must also be “stacking,” i.e., the benefit may be combined for multiple insured vehicles on the same policy. The purchaser then has the option to reject such UM coverage in writing.
In this case, the defendant said that when the victim purchased her auto insurance policy online, she selected an option to reject stacking UM coverage. According to the insurer, this meant that only non-stacking UM coverage up to $10,000 was available. The estate disagreed. It argued the victim “did not provide an informed, knowing rejection of the UM coverage,” and thus stacking coverage in the amount of $200,000 should be available to the estate.
The judge sided with the insurance company. The victim provided an online signature when she purchased her policy online. This created a legal presumption that she made a “knowing and informed” rejection of stacking UM coverage. More to the point, the judge said the estate failed to present any evidence to the contrary. The estate focused on the fact the victim spent less than a minute reviewing the online form before clicking okay. But that did not render the rejection invalid, the judge said, as there was no proof of fraud or forgery on the part of the defendant.
Speak with a Florida Car Accident Attorney Today
Many people simply assume that their insurance policies will automatically protect them following a serious auto accident. The reality is often quite different. If you need legal advice or representation in dealing with an insurer from an experienced Boca Raton auto accident lawyer, contact the Leifer Law Firm today to schedule a free initial consultation.