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Underinsurance Coverage in Rhode Island

Robert Karns

Underinsurance coverage is extremely important to have on any motor vehicle you operate or, for that matter, any motor vehicle you are a passenger in, in order to protect yourself and your family.

This coverage applies to bodily injury when the person in the other vehicle that causes the collision does not have sufficient coverage to compensate the injured victims for their personal injuries.

After the liability coverage from the other vehicle is collected and exhausted if the amount collected is insufficient to cover the bodily injury losses then this coverage of the vehicle that you were in or any household vehicle that you own applies.

This is governed by Rhode Island General Laws Chapter 27-7-2.1 and must equal the same amount that you have for liability coverage. Therefore, if you have $100,000.00/$300,000.00 liability coverage the insurer must place $100,000.00/$300,000.00 underinsurance coverage on your vehicle. This would mean that each injured person in the vehicle can recover up to another $100,000.00 in coverage. Rhode Island law allows that the amount of this coverage purchased can be reduced to lower than the amount of the liability coverage by signing a waiver, but this is not advisable as sufficient coverage must be maintained to properly protect you and your family.

The normal statute of limitation (meaning how long you have to collect this coverage) in Rhode Island is by contract and is 10 years from the date of the breach of contract. A recent Rhode Island Supreme Court case (ASIC v. LaFlam) decided that a clause in the policy of ASIC reducing the time to collect the coverage to three years from the date of injury was not valid. Per the Supreme Court, any period in the statute of limitation to collect the coverage in Rhode Island cannot start to run until the breach of contract. This would mean that the statute of limitation would start to run after the date of injury, after the coverage was applied for, and there was a disagreement as to either the coverage or the amount to be recovered and then the statute of limitation would start to run. The Supreme Court left open the issue of whether the 10 year contract period can be reduced and a decision on that was not reached. The case stands for the proposition that the statute of limitation on the coverage does not start to run until there is an actual breach of contract.

Underinsurance coverage regarding bodily injury is extremely important to maintain on your vehicle and any household vehicles in order to properly protect you and your family against people operating underinsured vehicles that cause collisions. This coverage is similar to the uninsurance coverage that protects you and family members from people operating vehicles with no insurance coverage


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If you or your loved one suffered severe, life-altering injuries due to someone else’s negligence, we are here to help you fight for justice. For answers to your questions or to schedule a free consultation, contact our personal injury team at (888) 281-3100. We offer our legal services on a contingency fee basis, meaning you only pay attorneys’ fees after we have recovered compensation on your behalf.

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