Uninsured and Underinsured motorist coverage is required on all Oregon auto policies. This is insurance against the uninsured and the underinsured. If injured by an uninsured motorist, your insurance company acts as if it was the insurance company for the other motorist, and will provide compensation. If there is a disagreement, you have the option of filing for arbitration, or filing an action in court.
Underinsured claims are claims where the negligent driver is insured, but not sufficiently insured to pay your losses. You have this claim if your uninsured motorist limits are greater than that of the negligent driver. Read about this coverage.
Uninsured drivers are a problem in Oregon. We have found DMV data showing that up to 23% of reported collisions in Oregon involve uninsured drivers. Within the universe of uninsured motorist claims are claims arising from a hit and run driver, or a phantom vehicle. Recent statistics, just out of Portland alone, show that there are over 5000 reports of hit and run incidents, including everything from fender benders to serious injuries.
The “phantom vehicle” case, and the “hit and run” case have special requirements. In addition to showing that you were injured, here is what you need to do in order to preserve your UM claim in this situation:
1. Report the collision to the appropriate officer or department within 72 hours;
2. File, with your insurer, within thirty days of the collision, a statement under oath that you have a cause of action (lawsuit or claim) against the person who you are unable to identify, and what facts you are relying upon in claiming that you have a claim against the other unknown driver
If you were hit by a hit and run driver, you also have to make your car available to your insurance company for inspection. In the case of a phantom vehicle, there has to be some evidence, other than your sworn statement, or a statement from another party with a UM claim, in order to preserve the phantom vehicle claim. This is known as “corroborating evidence.” The best example is a witness to the accident that is not involved in any claim.
We have helped several folks with phantom vehicle and hit and run cases, and know that it is important to meet these strict deadlines. If you have a question about a hit and run or phantom vehicle claim, call us at 503-325-8600.