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Physical contact requirement in uninsured (“UM”) motorist policies

May 17, 2019 By John Torgenson

Several of our most recent Torgenson Law blogs have spent time discussing the importance and usefulness of Uninsured (“UM”) and Underinsured (“UIM”) Motorist Coverage. After all, our number one goal at Torgenson Law is to get you the compensation you deserve, and these first-party policies can truly make the difference in fully compensating you for your injuries.

This brings us to today’s topic: The Physical Contact “Requirement” in some UM policies.

As a refresher, Uninsured (“UM”) Motorist Coverage applies in situations where the adverse or negligent driver does not have any liability insurance to compensate you for your injuries. In such a case, your own insurance company steps into the shoes of the uninsured liable party and pays your medical bills, lost wages, and pain and suffering damages up to the policy limits.

Now, some UM policies contain a provision that requires you to actually come into contact with an uninsured motorist’s vehicle for the UM coverage to apply. However, unknown to many individuals, including some insurance adjusters, these provisions are void under Arizona law. In fact, you do not even have to see the uninsured vehicle in question.

Specifically, A.R.S. § 20-259.01(M) provides: “If an insured makes a bodily injury or death claim under UM or UIM coverage based on an accident that involved an unidentified motor vehicle and no physical contact with the motor vehicle occurred, the insured shall provide corroboration that the unidentified motor vehicle caused the accident.” Furthermore, Arizona case law has clarified that “[p]hysical contact requirements, by restricting coverage to only those unidentified drivers who actually hit the insured, are in conflict with the statute and are void.” Lowing v. Allstate Ins. Co., 176 Ariz. 101, 859 P.2d 724 (1993).

In other words, there is no such thing as a physical contact requirement for Arizona UM claims. This means that your UM policy should apply even when unknown drivers leave obstructions in the road, such as tires, furniture, landscaping equipment, or crash debris, if those obstructions ultimately cause your crash.  

Obviously, it is understandable for someone to assume there is no personal injury coverage available when there is no identifiable liable party. Even your own insurance company might tell you there is no coverage under such circumstances. This is precisely why you need experienced Phoenix Injury Lawyers, who know the ins-and-outs of Arizona personal injury law.  It will never hurt to get a second opinion especially considering the tactics insurance companies use to give you the least amount of injury compensation as possible.

We, at Torgenson Law, are always willing to review your case to determine if there is potential insurance coverage for your claim. Even when your own insurance denies coverage, do not hesitate to call us at (602) 726-0747 for a free consultation.

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John Torgenson

John Torgenson is a highly experienced personal injury lawyer with over 20 years of practice in Arizona. He earned his Bachelor’s degree from the University of Utah and his Juris Doctor from Notre Dame. John has a proven track record of securing substantial verdicts and settlements, including an $8.25 million recovery for a gunshot injury victim. His expertise has earned him AVVO ratings and recognition as a Super Lawyer.

John is also a sought-after lecturer on personal injury law, sharing his extensive knowledge with peers and aspiring attorneys. Beyond his legal practice, John is an avid golfer and actively supports organizations like the Military Assistance Mission, Arizona School for the Arts, Page Balloon Regatta, University of Arizona Foundation, Junior Achievement of Arizona, and the Tim Huff Pro Bono Golf Classic.

Passionate about advocating for injury victims, John dedicates his career to battling insurance companies and corporate interests, ensuring that the rights of those who are hurt are vigorously defended.