Uninsured / Underinsured Motorist Coverage in Rhode Island
This Blog Post concerning Uninsured Motorist Claims in Rhode Island was posted by Rhode Island Personal Injury Attorney David Slepkow 401-437-1100.
Pursuant to Rhode Island General Law 31-31-7 Rhode Island Motorists are required to have minimum liability insurance coverage of $25,000 (1 person injured) / $50,000 ( 2 or more persons injured)
RIGL § 27-7-2.1 pertains to Uninsured / Underinsured Motorist Coverage requirements in Rhode Island.
§ 31-31-7 Requirements as to policy or bond. – (a) No policy or bond shall be effective under § 31-31-6 unless issued by an insurance company or surety company authorized to do business in this state, except as provided in subsection (b) of this section, nor unless the policy or bond is subject, if the accident has resulted in bodily injury or death, to a limit, exclusive of interest and costs, of not less than twenty-five thousand dollars ($25,000) because of bodily injury to or death of one person, in any one accident and subject to the limit for one person, to a limit of not less than fifty thousand dollars ($50,000) because of bodily injury to or death of two (2) or more persons in any one accident, and if the accident has resulted in injury to, or destruction of, property to a limit of not less than twenty-five thousand dollars ($25,000) because of injury to or destruction of property of others in any one accident.
(b) No policy or bond shall be effective under § 31-31-6 with respect to any vehicle which was not registered in this state or was a vehicle which was registered elsewhere than in this state at the effective date of the policy or bond or the most recent renewal thereof, unless the insurance company or surety company issuing the policy or bond is authorized to do business in this state, or if the company is not authorized to do business in this state, unless it shall execute a power of attorney authorizing the administrator of the division of motor vehicles to accept service on its behalf of notice or process in any action upon the policy or bond arising out of the accident.
(c) The division of motor vehicles may rely upon the accuracy of the information in a required report of an accident as to the existence of insurance or a bond unless and until the division of motor vehicles has reason to believe that the information is erroneous.
§ 27-7-2.1 Uninsured motorist coverage. – (a) No policy insuring against loss resulting from liability imposed by law for property damage caused by collision, bodily injury, or death suffered by any person arising out of the ownership, maintenance, or use of a motor vehicle shall be delivered or issued for delivery in this state with respect to any motor vehicle registered or principally garaged in this state unless coverage is provided in or supplemental to the policy, for bodily injury or death in limits set forth in each policy, but in no instance less than the limits set forth in § 31-31-7 under provisions approved by the insurance commissioner, for the protection of persons insured under the policy who are legally entitled to recover damages from owners or operators of uninsured motor vehicles and hit-and-run motor vehicles because of property damage, bodily injury, sickness, or disease, including death, resulting from that injury, sickness or disease. The insurer shall provide uninsured motorist coverage in an amount equal to the insured’s bodily injury liability limits. The named insured shall have the option of selecting a limit in writing less than the bodily injury liability coverage, but in no event less than the limits set forth in § 31-31-7, unless the named insured is purchasing only the minimum coverage required by compulsory insurance provisions of the general laws, in which case the limit can be reduced to zero, but only after signing an advisory notice approved by the director of business regulation concerning the hazard of uninsured and underinsured motorists. That coverage shall also apply in the case of a responsible party whose liability insurance carrier was insolvent at the time of the accident or became insolvent subsequent to the accident.
(b) Notwithstanding the provisions of subsection (a), the named insured shall have the option to reject, in writing, uninsured motorist coverage for loss resulting from damage to property. If the named insured has collision coverage for property damage to his or her vehicle, then no coverage for uninsured motorist property damage shall be required unless the insured at his or her option chooses to purchase that coverage.
(c) For the purposes of this section:
(1) “Policy insuring against loss” means a policy which provides primary coverage for the insured motor vehicle; and
(2) “Property damage” means injury to or destruction of the insured vehicle, including its loss of use and any property, excluding business property, owned by the insured while contained in the insured vehicle.
(d) After the selection of limits by the named insured or the exercise of the right to reject that portion of the coverage which applies to property damage, the insurer or any affiliated insurer shall be required to notify the policyholder, in any renewal, reinstatement, substitute, amended, altered, modified, transfer, or replacement policy, as to the availability of that coverage or optional limits. The insured may, subject to the limitations expressed in this chapter, make a written request for higher limits, newly added coverage, or coverage more extensive than that provided on a prior policy.
(e) Property damage caused by collision shall be subject to a two hundred dollar ($200) deductible per claim unless otherwise agreed. Any claim submitted under the property damage portion of this section must include the name, address, and other means of identification to establish that the at-fault operator is without insurance. The rate for this coverage will be established as a percentage of the existing base collision insurance rate as utilized by the majority of companies, to be determined by the insurance commissioner.
(f) Whenever, through subrogation, an insurance company or its insurance producer collects a casualty loss from a third party, that company or insurance producer shall, from the funds collected, first pay to the insured the deductible portion of the casualty loss less the prorated share of subrogation expense and only after this retain any funds in excess of the deductible portion of the recovery.
(g) For the purposes of this section “uninsured motorist” shall include an underinsured motorist. An “underinsured motorist” is the owner or operator of a motor vehicle who carries automobile liability insurance with coverage in an amount less than the limits or damages that persons insured pursuant to this section are legally entitled to recover because of bodily injury, sickness, or disease, including death, resulting from that injury, sickness or disease.
(h) A person entitled to recover damages pursuant to this section shall not be required to make a claim against or bring an action against the uninsured or underinsured tortfeasor as a prerequisite to recover damages from the insurer providing coverage pursuant to this section. In the event that the person entitled to recover against an underinsured motorist recovers from the insurer providing coverage pursuant to this section, that insurer shall be entitled to subrogation rights against the underinsured motorist and his or her insurance carrier. Release of the tortfeasor with the consent of the company providing the underinsured coverage shall not extinguish or bar the claim of the insured against the underinsurance carrier regardless of whether the claim has been liquidated.
(i) Whenever an insured has paid two (2) or more separate premiums for uninsured motorists’ coverage in a single policy of insurance or under several policies with the same insurance company, the insured shall be permitted to collect up to the aggregate amount of coverage for all of the vehicles insured, regardless of any language in the policy to the contrary.
Legal Notice per Rules of Professional Responsibility: The Rhode Island Supreme Court licenses all lawyers and attorneys in the general practice of law, but does not license or certify any lawyer / attorney as an expert or specialist in any field of practice. While this firm maintains joint responsibility, most cases of this type are referred to other attorneys for principle responsibility.