In case of an uninsured/underinsured motorist claim on an automobile accident in New Mexico, the law requires that an insured party notify their insurance company of the uninsured/underinsured claim “as soon as practicable.”
The requirement is a little bit vague but what it means in practice is that you must notify your carrier of an uninsured/underinsured motorist claim as soon as it becomes evident that the insurance coverage of the other driver is inadequate to compensate you for your injuries and damages.
This determination may take some time since insurance companies are not always willing to turn over insurance policy limits information on their drivers. Often times, insurance companies will turn over policy limits information only when a demand in excess of insurance policy limits is made and the insurance company feels that legitimate claims may be made in excess of policy limits.
This information may come well into the personal injury claims process. In fact, it may well be that the policy limits are not known until formal discovery is conducted in the litigation process. As such, “as soon as practicable” could be weeks, months or years after the accident has occurred. Only once an insured driver knows of a possible uninsured/underinsured motorist claim must the driver notify his or her insurance company of the claim.
The statute of limitations, always something to watch closely in every personal injury matter, is less of a concern in uninsured/underinsured motorist claims. Personal injury claims, including auto accidents, have a 3 year statute of limitation. The limitation period is shortened to 2 years in case of governmental defendants. However, the statute of limitations on a uninsured/underinsured motorist claims is 6 years. An uninsured/underinsured motorist claim is contractual in nature and disputes on written contracts have a 6 year statute of limitations.
Keep in mind that the statute of limitations is not the same as the notice requirement. The notice to a driver‘s insurance company must be made once the uninsured/underinsured claim is known. Of course, if this comes years after the accident, the longer statute of limitations on uninsured/underinsured claims provides the driver with added protection.
Statute of Limitations on Past Denial of Uninsured/Underinsured Motorist (UM/UIM) Coverage in New Mexico
Uninsured/Underinsured Coverage: An Insurer‘s Duty to Passengers in New Mexico
Uninsured/Underinsured Coverage: An Insurer‘s Duty to Passengers in New Mexico – The Sequel