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Uninsured Motorist Coverage Under New Hampshire Law

October 14, 2020

New Hampshire law does not require residents to purchase vehicle liability insurance. However, if a person chooses to purchase coverage, they must include Uninsured/Uninsured Motorist Coverage (UIM). The Insurance Research Council reported that about 10% of New Hampshire drivers do not have vehicle insurance. In light of these numbers, drivers must understand their rights and remedies if they are involved in a New Hampshire car accident with an uninsured or underinsured driver.

Under New Hampshire Statute RSA 264:15, insurance policies cannot be issued without uninsured motorist coverage, equal to the amount of bodily injury coverage the policyholder purchased. New Hampshire requires policyholders to purchase at least $25,000 for single accidents involving death or injury and $50,00 for accidents resulting in death or injury to two or more individuals.

Unlike bodily injury claims, which are typically made against a third party and their insurance company, UIM claims are made against the policyholder’s insurance company. Coverage disputes are generally based on contract law and may require civil lawsuits. Many lawsuits involve disagreements about the number of medical bills, how the injury occurred, and the vehicles involved. In some cases, insurance companies will argue that the circumstances do not fall into the coverage parameters.

For instance, an appellate court recently issued an opinion addressing whether a policyholder who suffered injuries in an all-terrain-vehicle (ATV) accident was entitled to UIM coverage. The policyholder was a passenger in an ATV when it crashed with another ATV driver. The accident occurred on a paved intersection within a popular ATV trail. The passenger sought UIM coverage from the other driver’s policy. The insurance company argued that the driver’s vehicle was not an uninsured vehicle under their policy terms. They cited the policy which stated that “uninsured vehicles shall not include…any equipment or vehicles designed for use mainly off public roads except while on public roads”.

In that case, the appellate court addressed whether the road was “public.” The insurance company argued that it was not public because it was not accessible to the public without a fee and waiver. In response, the plaintiff argued that the roads were public because they were publicly owned, maintained through public funds, and open to the public. The court found that ambiguities exist when there is more than one interpretation of a term. When ambiguities exist, the court should construe the term in favor of the insured. Here, the court found that the term “public road” is ambiguous, and the plaintiff’s interpretation was reasonable. Therefore, because the roads were “public roads” and because the other driver’s ATV was operated on them, the ATV was an uninsured motor vehicle.

Have You Been Involved in a New Hampshire Accident with an Uninsured Driver?

If you or someone you know has been injured in a New Hampshire car accident with an uninsured New Hampshire driver, contact the attorneys at Peter Thompson & Associates. Our attorneys have extensive experience handling claims against negligent motorists, businesses, government officials, and insurance companies. Our clients have recovered substantial amounts of compensation for their medical expenses, property damage, and pain and suffering through our representation. Contact our office at 800-804-2004 to schedule a free initial consultation with an attorney at our law firm.