In Louisiana, every driver must have liability insurance. Liability insurance pays when you cause a wreck and hurt someone else. But your insurance can also cover you when someone who does not have insurance (or who does not have enough insurance) hurts you. La. R.S. 22:1295. This is called underinsured/uninsured motorist (“UM”) coverage. UM coverage is not limitless. It is controlled by your policy and Louisiana law.
The default rule.
The law generally requires UM coverage that is equal to the “liability limits” in the policy. La. R.S. 22:1295. That means by default, if your liability limits are $1 million, your UM coverage is also $1 million. However, when you buy your policy, you can agree with the insurance company to change the UM limits, or to get rid of it entirely.
Changing your UM coverage.
You can change the default rule. You are free to reject the coverage, select lower limits, or select “economic only coverage.” But you must follow strict form requirements set by the commissioner of insurance. Failing to follow the form to the letter will result in an invalid waiver, and courts will find that regardless of what the policy says, UM coverage will be the same as your liability coverage. See Berkley Assurance Company v. Melissa Willis et al. No. 2021-c-01554 (La. 12/9/2022) (Considering policy with $1 million in liability coverage and a UM coverage form selecting a limit of $30,000. Because the name of the insurer was not included on the UM coverage form, the form was invalid. By law, UM coverage defaulted to $1 million).
The implications of the Berkley case.
Your UM coverage might be a lot more than you think. When a UM coverage form does not follow the law, it might be invalid. Under Berkley, when the UM form is invalid, courts should find that UM coverage is equal to the liability limits in the policy.
If you have been in a wreck with someone that does not have insurance. (Or they do not have enough insurance to pay for your injuries). You need to have a personal injury lawyer look at your policy to see how much UM coverage is available in light of Berkley.
There might be a lot more money available than you realize to help get you back on the road to recovery.