Ballin Law

Umbrella insurance


A few years ago, I wrote about Arthur Vee’s case. Arthur was riding his motorcycle when he was cut off by a motorist who was turning left into a gas station. Arthur suffered horrific, permanent injuries to his leg. The defendant operator had $250,000 of coverage on his auto policy; however, I discovered after filing a lawsuit that this defendant also had a $1,000,000 excess liability “umbrella” insurance policy (i.e. personal liability insurance that covers claims in excess of regular auto coverage). We ultimately recovered a $1,000,000 settlement for Arthur.

Fast forward to today, I represent a young man, Taylor, who was riding a moped when he, like Arthur, was cut off by a vehicle turning left. There was a violent head-on crash that resulted in Taylor permanently losing most of the vision out of his left eye. This defendant also had $250,000 of auto insurance coverage; however, this is where the similarities with Arthur’s case end. I filed a lawsuit to discover whether this defendant had an excess policy. Unfortunately, this defendant did not. Therefore, Taylor’s recovery against the defendant was limited to $250,000. In a sense, it was fortunate that the defendant at least had $250,000 of coverage, especially considering that Taylor had no auto insurance of his own. That said, the relative value of Taylor’s damages exceeded the defendant’s coverage.

Protection for injuries caused by uninsured or underinsured motorists may now be available on your personal umbrella policy.

The lesson here is that none of us can rely on negligent drivers to have enough auto insurance to cover the injuries they cause, let alone an umbrella policy. Umbrella policies are typically meant to cover injuries you cause to someone or something; however, many Massachusetts insurance companies are now offering umbrella policies with coverage for injuries an uninsured or underinsured motorist causes to you. For example, if Taylor had such an umbrella policy for say, $1Million, he would have collected the defendant’s $250,000 auto policy limit and then made a claim against his umbrella policy for up to $1M.

We have written in the past about what we consider to be “full” auto insurance coverage. Adding an umbrella policy, though, is this firm’s recommendation for complete protection.

So, what should you do? Call your insurance agent immediately. Ask for quotes for an umbrella policy that includes protection for everyone in your household against injuries caused by an uninsured or underinsured motorist in excess of similar coverages from your auto insurance policy. The premium for this coverage varies by company but is typically less than $15 per month. If you cannot afford an umbrella policy, my recommendation is you should have no less than $250,000 per person/$500,000 per incident for Parts 3, 5, and 12 of your auto policy.

In order to protect the privacy of the injured person and witnesses, all names have been changed. Any resemblance to names of real persons, past or present, is merely coincidental and not intended. The injured person agreed to have this article published in order to better educate everyone about their legal rights to compensation when injured.

Jared N. Ballin, personal injury attorney
Jared N. Ballin, Esq.

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