Mississippi Drivers are the Most Uninsured in the Country
According to a 2009 study by the Insurance Research Council, 28 percent of Mississippi drivers are uninsured. That is the most in the country and is twice the estimated nationwide uninsured rate of 14 percent. So, if you drive in Mississippi, it probably makes sense to obtain “uninsured motorist” (UM) coverage. It compensates you, or other persons insured under your automobile insurance policy, for amounts that you may be legally entitled to collect as damages from an owner or operator of an uninsured motor vehicle. Still, some people reject the coverage for cost reasons, not always mindful of the consequences. If they are in an accident caused by an uninsured motorist, the consequences become clear quickly.
By law, auto liability policies in Mississippi must include UM coverage unless it is rejected in writing. The Mississippi Supreme Court, in a recent decision, said that a written rejection of UM coverage was not effective where the insurance agent “failed to explain the waiver.” Honeycutt v. Coleman, 2013 WL 2350358 (May 13, 2013). Although the insured in Honeycutt admitting signing a statement clearly and voluntarily rejecting UM coverage, the Court noted that the waiver “itself neither explains the benefits of UM coverage nor the consequences of rejecting coverage.”
Three comments: (1) If you are insurer and don’t want to incur UM exposure for which you collected no premium, you should take a close look at your Mississippi UM rejection form and make sure it explains in plain English the benefits of UM coverage and the consequences of rejecting the coverage. (2) If you drive in Mississippi, think twice before rejecting UM coverage and insist on an explanation of its benefits and the consequences of not having it. (3) If you are in an accident with an uninsured motorist and find out that you rejected UM coverage, the coverage may still be available to you under Honeycutt decision.
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