Why Do I Have to Sue My Own Insurance Company After an Iowa Car Accident?

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Posted by Tim Semelroth

Sometimes the only way to get fair compensation for your Iowa car accident is to file a lawsuit.  Most people realize that Iowa law requires that lawsuit to be filed against the driver who caused your crash and the owner of the vehicle he or she was driving – even if you are only seeking money from their auto insurance companies.

Many people don’t know that Iowa law may require you to sue your own auto insurance company as well. You may wonder why you would have to sue your own auto insurance company when the other driver was at fault for the crash. The short answer is because the other driver may not have auto insurance or have enough coverage to compensate you for all of your accident-related losses.

Uninsured Motorist (UM) Coverage and Suing Your Own Auto Insurance Company

If the person who injured you has no auto insurance, you have two options:

1.) You can still sue the person who injured you – but since they don’t have insurance, it’s unlikely they have enough personal finances or assets to pay you for your harms and losses.

2.) If you carry uninsured motorist (UM) coverage, you can make a claim for compensation against your own auto insurance company.

Just because you are dealing with your own auto insurance company does not mean you will be treated fairly.  Insurance companies rarely pay out big claims without a fight.  That is why it is often necessary to file a lawsuit to get a fair amount of uninsured motorist benefits.

Underinsured Motorist (UIM) Coverage and Your Iowa Car Accident

If the person who injured you has some insurance coverage but not enough to fairly compensate you for your crash-related losses, you may have to make a claim under the under-insured motorist (UIM) portion of your auto insurance policy.

How under-insured motorist coverage works is that if your losses exceed the amount of the at-fault driver’s insurance, then your own auto insurance company will cover the remaining losses up to a certain amount.  Again, just because you are dealing with your own insurance company does not mean you will be treated any better when you make a claim.  That is why it’s often necessary to sue your own auto insurance company for under-insured motorist benefits.

How do you find out whether the other driver is under-insured?  Sometimes, the only way to find out is to file a lawsuit.  That is because Iowa law does not require another driver to reveal how much insurance coverage he or she has until after a lawsuit is filed.  Because people can legally drive in Iowa with only $20,000.00 in auto insurance, it is very possible that the other driver will not have enough insurance to compensate you.

Even if the limits of the other driver’s insurance policy are known, your attorney may not know if those limits will be enough to cover all of your crash-related damages.  Sometimes you are still treating your injuries from the crash, which means medical bills are still coming in.  Your car accident attorney will not know how much your case is worth until you are done treating your injuries.  If you are still treating, including both the other driver and your own auto insurance company to the lawsuit is a good idea.

The Statute of Limitations on Suing Your Auto Insurance

You may be wondering whether you can wait to see how much insurance the other driver has before you sue your own auto insurance company for uninsured or under-insured motorist benefits.  That is not always possible and it is because of how some auto insurance policies are written.

You probably know that Iowa law typically gives a person two years from the date of any injury to file a car accident lawsuit.  That deadline is called the statute of limitations.  You may not realize that your auto insurance policy can also place a time limit on how long you have to bring an uninsured or under-insured motorist claim.

Many auto policies in Iowa require those claims to be brought within two years as well.  That is why it is often necessary to sue the driver responsible for your crash and your own auto insurance company at the same time.  If you don’t, you can permanently miss out on your opportunity to make an uninsured or underinsured motorist claim.

When it is necessary to file a car accident lawsuit, it is our firm’s general policy to file the uninsured and under-insured motorist claims at the same time we sue the at-fault driver.  We do it to protect our clients’ rights if it turns out the other driver didn’t have adequate insurance and it is necessary to seek another source of compensation for your accident-related losses.

If you have further questions about suing your own insurance company, you can download your FREE copy of the Law Guide to Iowa Car Accident Claims on this page or contact us at: 1-319-774-1783 and get a free, no-obligation, personalized case evaluation today.

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