R-67, the new Insurance Fair Conduct law in Washington, may forever change how insurance companies treat consumers. The new law places sanctions on insurance companies if they unreasonably deny claims or offer unreasonable amounts to settle. Uninsured motorist claims are one area where insurance companies may no longer be able to force consumers to accept low ball settlements by threatening court action. Underinsured motorist claims are another. Although many auto accidents are caused by drivers without insurance, quite a few are caused by drivers who buy the cheapest insurance they can. The result is a driver with insurance, but not enough to cover the loss. Prudent purchasers of insurance buy uninsured motorist coverage. Uninsured motorist coverage pays an injured driver or passenger the amount they would have recovered had the bad driver carried insurance. In a sense they act like the other driver’s company. This coverage can also be used in situations where the bad driver carried a minimal policy. Uninsured motorist coverage then becomes underinsured motorist coverage in these situations. This coverage can be used to make up the difference between claim value and what the bad driver carried in insurance benefits. Under the new law, if an insurance company tries to force an unreasonably low offer on an injured customer who seeks underinsured benefits, they may end up paying all of his court costs, attorney fees as well as a penalty of three times the amount they should have paid in the first place. The new law went into effect December 10, 2007.
For more information on this subject, please refer to the section on Car and Motorcycle Accidents.