Under Alabama law, all car insurance policies must provide uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage (UM coverage). Ala. Code § 32-7-23. Nevertheless, in spite of this mandate, 22% of drivers do not have liability insurance. UM coverage is vitally important in that it protects drivers and passengers who have an accident caused by someone else who lacks car insurance altogether, or who has insufficient liability insurance. In the event you have an accident with an uninsured/underinsured motorist, you may file a claim with your own insurance company under your UM policy. Each insurance policy sold in Alabama is required to have at least $25,000 per person in coverage for personal injuries. Even if you do not see an uninsured/underinsured motorist provision in your car insurance policy, you still have the minimum coverage, unless you sign a written waiver declining the coverage.
In Johnson v. First Acceptance Insurance Company, the Alabama Court of Civil Appeals recently considered the case of Mr. Johnson, whose underinsured motorist claim was originally denied by his own insurance provider, First Acceptance. The parties agree that Mr. Johnson was assisted in submitting an electronic application for insurance with the help of a First Acceptance agent. However, the parties dispute whether Mr. Johnson actually electronically signed his name in a waiver of UM coverage. First Acceptance Insurance argued that Mr. Johnson declined uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage through an electronic signature; Mr. Johnson denies he ever declined UM coverage. The Court ultimately decided not to rule on the validity of an electronic signature in declining UM coverage, but did allow Mr. Johnson’s case to continue, based on the parties’ factual dispute of the facts. We look forward to the outcome of the case.