Common Situation 5
A bicyclist is hit by an auto with $100,000 in bodily injury coverage. The bicyclist’s parents own one car with $250,000 in underinsured benefits. Are they available if the bicyclist does not receive the full $100,000?
Answer to Common Situation 5
Yes. Massachusetts law is very clear that a settlement for less than the full bodily injury coverage will still permit the injured party to make a claim for underinsured motorist benefits. The right procedure has to be followed prior to making such a claim. If so, you can proceed for the additional underinsured money even though you had settled for less than the full policy limits of the at-fault party. Pritzky v. Safety Insurance Co., 64 Mass. App. Ct. 751 (2005). This has been the law in Massachusetts since the MacInnis v. Aetna Life & Casualty Co., 403 Mass. 220 (1988) decision.
NOTE: While we know that uninsurance/underinsurance is resolved through arbitration, does that resolution have to await the trial or settlement of the bodily injury claim against the other vehicle? No. See Aetna Casualty & Surety Co. v. Faris, 27 Mass. App. Ct. 194 (1989).
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