According to the Missouri Department of Revenue, the Show Me State requires that all motorists keep liability insurance coverage. Liability insurance is designed to indemnify the policyholder when his or her actions cause a third party to suffer bodily injury or property damage. Liability insurance is known as third-party insurance. During a third-party insurance claim, the injured party brings an action against the policyholder’s insurer. Common examples of third-party coverage include: automobile, general commercial, homeowner’s, umbrella, animal, professional, public, and product liability policies.
On the other hand, first-party insurance covers damages or losses suffered by the policyholder. Thus, during a first-party insurance claim the policyholder brings an action against his own insurer. Typically, first-party insurance coverage includes: health, property, renter’s, medical payment, and uninsured or underinsured motorist coverage.
Missouri state law requires that each motorist maintain minimum levels of liability coverage, as follows: $25,000 per person for bodily injury, $50,000 per accident for bodily injury, and $10,000 per accident for property. Furthermore, the law requires motorists to have uninsured motorist coverage of $25,000 for bodily injury per person and $50,000 for bodily injury per accident. Proof of insurance must be kept in the covered automobile at all times. If a driver is unable to produce proof of insurance to a police officer upon request, the driver may be issued a ticket with a fine.
Uninsured Motorist Coverage
If a driver does not have proof of insurance, three things could happen:
- (1) The court will send the conviction to the Driver License Bureau, who will assign four points to the driver’s record;
- (2) The court will enter an order of supervision to allow the driver to be monitored to ensure that he or she is abiding by state law; or
- (3) The court will enter an order suspending the driver’s license for failing to provide proof of insurance. As a general rule, a total of eight points within an 18-month period will cause the uninsured motorist to lose his or her driver’s license.
When an at-fault driver causes bodily injury or property damage, the injured party may have first-party coverage in medical payment or in uninsured or underinsured motorist coverage. Medical payment is not fault-based. Therefore, med pay covers injury regardless of who caused the accident. Med pay is often used by an injured party to pay deductibles and health expenses while a personal injury claim against the at-fault driver is begun. The injured driver’s third-party claim against the at-fault driver’s insurer may take quite some time to resolve. Med pay can be used as a tool to pay for medical expenses in the meantime, but it is not required by state law.
Underinsured Motorist Coverage
In contrast, state law requires that insurers include uninsured motorist coverage. This coverage applies when the at-fault driver has no liability insurance, or when the at-fault driver’s identity cannot be determined (such as in a hit-and-run accident). Meanwhile, underinsured motorist coverage is not mandatory per state law. Underinsured coverage is available when the at-fault driver is identifiable and has liability insurance, but does not have enough coverage to reimburse the injured party for the bodily injury and property damage the insured caused.
In many instances, an injured party has multiple, overlapping insurance coverages. Missouri law allows injured parties to “stack” insurance benefits in some situations. For instance, an injured motorist could receive compensation from his or her own medical payment policy and uninsured policy. In addition, the injured motorist could receive reimbursement from the at-fault driver’s liability insurance. Furthermore, the injured motorist could expand the minimum $25,000 coverage by combining the policy limits of additional vehicles owned by the insured. Typically, insurers include “anti-stacking” provisions in the policy. However, these provisions are not always enforceable. To find out if you can stack coverage from multiple policies, it is recommended that you contact a personal injury attorney who can assist in determining if stacking is allowed under the policy and state law.