The issue of disclosing policy limits is surprisingly controversial, and whether an at-fault driver’s insurance company needs to divulge this information varies by state.
When you’re in a car accident and the other driver is at fault, you’ll want to seek compensation for your injuries, which could include medical expenses, lost wages, and pain and suffering. The total value of your claim may need to be negotiated, and it can be beneficial to know how much insurance the other driver has before agreeing to a settlement.
However, as you can imagine, insurance companies are reluctant to share this information. In this article, we’ll discuss whether they’re allowed to keep you in the dark about policy limits and what you can do to find out what the other driver’s policy limits are if the information is not readily available.
In Oklahoma, insurance companies are under no obligation to reveal policy limits prior to a lawsuit being filed. If you don’t know how much insurance coverage the other driver has, it can be difficult to determine whether their insurance will be able to pay the total amount of your settlement claim. The reason is that policy limits will dictate the maximum dollar figure that an insurance company has to pay you.
If you’re not sure how much coverage the other person has, you can start by referencing Oklahoma state law minimums. Knowing the minimum liability coverage drivers must carry can help give you a frame of reference.
All drivers in Oklahoma are required to have insurance to cover bodily injury and property damage. The minimums are expressed as 25/50/25. This refers to $25,000 of coverage for bodily injuries for a single person or $50,000 of total bodily injury coverage for an accident. Drivers must also have $25,000 to cover property damage.
It doesn’t take much for an accident to exceed these minimums, especially if multiple parties are involved or the injuries are extensive. Most insurance providers, therefore, recommend higher limit policies in the amount of 100/300/100.
As you can see, there’s a massive range between $25,000 to $50,000 of bodily injury protection and $300,000. When an insured driver has a policy that offers a higher level of protection, the insurance company may want to obscure this information to prevent you, the injured driver, from either padding a claim or demanding to be paid what’s fair.
Why Knowing Policy Limits is Beneficial
If you know what the other driver’s policy limits are, it can go a long way in helping you evaluate your case. For example, when you know that the negligent driver has only the minimum amount of coverage, you’ll avoid wasting energy negotiating for compensation that goes beyond that limit. If your injuries exceed that coverage, you have the option to sue the driver directly or look for other negligent parties to add to your claim.
On the other hand, if the driver has a higher policy limit and you’re aware of what that limit is, you could end up accepting a settlement that is less than its true value because you had no idea what compensation was potentially available to you.
Being armed with knowledge about policy limits also gives you options about how to handle your situation. For example, you could elect to use your own insurance for medical coverage or use your underinsured motorist coverage. Another option you could consider is selecting more conservative treatment options to avoid racking up medical bills that can’t be paid.
Tips to Finding Out Policy Limits
There’s no surefire way to get this information on your own, but there are some things you can try.
1. Ask the other driver. You could get lucky by asking the other driver directly what their policy limits are. Their insurance company will likely advise them not to divulge this information or speak to you at all. Still, if you’re able to communicate with this person before they’ve been given this advice, you might get the exact information you’re looking for.
2. Enlist your insurance company for help. You could potentially file a claim with your insurance company. When your adjuster begins evaluating your claim, they can potentially find what kind of coverage the other driver has from the other insurance company’s adjuster.
3. Send a demand letter through your attorney. You could potentially send a demand letter yourself, but it’s usually advised for this type of correspondence to come from an attorney. The letter will argue that you are entitled to policy limit information.
4. File a lawsuit. Even though an insurance company is not required to share policy limits with you in Oklahoma, the situation changes once you file a lawsuit.
Get Help from a Personal Injury Attorney
It can be challenging and stressful enough to navigate a claim without having to worry about whether the driver that caused your injuries has enough insurance to compensate you. By working with a personal injury attorney, you’ll be better equipped to value your case and proceed in a way that gives you the best chance for a positive outcome.
At the law offices of Bryan Garrett PLLC, we are here to help. Contact us today to schedule your free initial consultation. We will discuss your case and help you determine the next steps.