10222017Headline:

Vancouver, Washington

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Don Jacobs
Don Jacobs
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“Sue to collect” uninsured motorist coverage

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Many people carry uninsured motorist coverage on their auto policy.  This way when an uninsured driver hits your car and causes an injury, you can look to your own company for payment of your damages.  If you’ve purchased this coverage your company has a duty to investigate the accident, evaluate your injury claim and pay benefits in a timely manner.  Many times however, consumers find themselves in a dispute with their own insurance company.  In uninsured motorist claims, disputes can arise over how bad you were injured or whether or not all of your injuries were caused by the accident.  Sometimes companies exercise their right to have you see a doctor of their choice.  The experience of most people subjected to an exam of this nature is negative.  For some reason, most insurance doctors tend to disagree with the doctor in charge of providing care.  So what happens when you get into a friendly dispute with your own company?  For many years, insurance policies contained provisions that allowed you to resolve the dispute without going to court.  A private arbitration hearing was held.  Private arbitration is a great way to resolve many disputes.  It’s quick and inexpensive.  Court cases can drag on for years, create a great deal of stress and eat up a lot of your money in court costs.  Although Oregon has for the most part retained the arbitration system, many Washington insurance companies are now putting provisions in your policy requiring you go to court if you disagree with their decision.  Called “sue to collect” clauses, these provisions means you have to file a lawsuit at the county courthouse against your own company.  It also means you have to spend a lot more of your time and money to get your insurance benefits.  Many people faced with this prospect throw up their hands and just accept what the insurance company gives them.  So who do these new clauses benefit?  I wonder.