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Floyd-Tunnell v. Shelter Mut. Ins. Co. Uninsured Motorist Coverage and Stacking

In Floyd-Tunnell v. Shelter Mut. Ins. Co., an appeal argued in the Missouri Supreme Court, the plaintiff’s husband was killed in a car crash with an at-fault driver who did not have car insurance. As your Boston car accident lawyer can explain, courts refer to this type of driver as an uninsured motorist (UM).

921217_crashed_car.jpgAt the time this fatal car accident occurred, the plaintiff and her husband were the named insured drivers on three liability policies for three vehicles that they owned. All three car insurance policies where purchased with the same carrier. Each of these policies provided UM limits of $100,000.

UM coverage is a type of insurance that a driver can purchase to cover himself or herself in the event of an accident with someone who does not have car insurance. While it is illegal to drive without car insurance, many people are out on the roads with no insurance every day. In the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, driving an uninsured motor vehicle is a crime punishable by up to a year in the house of corrections.

If someone who does not have insurance hits you, and you have UM coverage, the idea is that your insurance will pay you for your losses up to the limits of your UM insurance. If you have more than one vehicle, you may be able to apply the coverage from those other vehicles through what is called the stacking of UM coverage. In other words, if you are in an accident with an uninsured motorist, and you have $30,000 of UM coverage on the car you are driving, you could get that money to help with the losses you experienced from the car accident. If you have another car at home with UM coverage, you could possibly get that $30,000, as well, by stacking the two UM plans together.

In Floyd-Tunnell, the plaintiff requested the $100,000 for each of the three UM policies for a total of $300,000 for the accident that resulted in the death of her husband. The insurance company paid the plaintiff $100,000 from the UM plan on the vehicle her husband was driving at the time of the accident and $25,000 from each of the two other cars’ plans making their total payment $150,000.

The insurance company paid $25,000 from each other car instead of $100,000, because they claimed there was exception for owned vehicles that were not covered under the policy. This means that, if an insured driver who was injured or killed owned the other vehicle but was not specifically covered by the vehicle’s plan, this limit would apply.

The trial court agreed with the defendant. The plaintiff appealed this ruling. Ultimately, the court ruled that the owned vehicle exception did apply and the correct amount to be paid was $150,000.

If you are injured in an accident in Massachusetts, call the Law Offices of Jeffrey S. Glassman for a free and confidential appointment: 1-888-367-2900.

Additional Resources:
Floyd-Tunnell v. Shelter Mut. Ins. Co., July 29, 2014, Missouri Supreme Court

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Why Do Boston Drivers Hit and Run?
, July 3, 2014, Boston Car Accident Lawyers Blog