In Oregon, every motor vehicle bodily injury liability policy must contain uninsured motorist coverage in an amount of at least $25,000. The amount must be the same as the limit for bodily injury liability, unless the insured elects lower limits, but the amount must at least be the minimum required.  The coverage is actually an “uninsured/underinsured” coverage and is designated UM/UIM. The coverage kicks in under two situations, provided the other requisites of making a claim are met. The first is when the other driver that caused the accident has no insurance. The second is when the driver that caused the accident does not have adequate liability insurance to compensate the claimant for the claimant’s personal injuries. This second situation is the underinsurance situation.

Oregon law now stacks UM/UIM coverage, and this will apply to most claims brought now. Stacking means that the full amount of your UM/UIM coverage is available in an underinsured situation after the other driver’s liability coverage is exhausted. The stacking provision went into effect on January 1, 2016 and prior to that the amount of the other driver’s liability coverage was subtracted from your UM/UIM coverage to determine the total amount available.

The claimant in an uninsured or underinsured case has significant leverage. The biggest advantage is that the claimant in Oregon has the ability to commence arbitration to resolve the uninsured motorist insurance claim. The cost of that arbitration is limited by statute for the claimant, while the insurance company has to bear the remainder of the cost of the arbitration itself. That cost can be significant as a panel of three arbitrators is typically used. This is a very good way to litigate many uninsured or underinsured motorist claims, although proceeding with a lawsuit is another option that is available. Brad Schrock is an experienced uninsured motorist coverage attorney and Beaverton injury attorney, and has experience in successfully resolving these claims.  The statutory law covering the provisions for uninsured and underinsured bodily injury liability is found in the Oregon Revised Statutes, beginning at ORS 742.500.

Also, as with liability coverage, your UM/UIM coverage should be maximized to the extent that you can with your budget. It only makes sense.  You should also discuss with your insurance agent whether additional property damage coverage is advisable for the UM/UIM situation. The foregoing article is general information only, and is not to be interpreted or construed as legal advice.