2010 Tennessee Code
Title 56 - Insurance
Chapter 7 - Policies and Policyholders
Part 12 - Uninsured Motor Vehicle Coverage
56-7-1201 - Requirements and types of coverage Presumptions Limitations of liability.

56-7-1201. Requirements and types of coverage Presumptions Limitations of liability.

(a)  Every automobile liability insurance policy delivered, issued for delivery or renewed in this state, covering liability arising out of the ownership, maintenance, or use of any motor vehicle designed for use primarily on public roads and registered or principally garaged in this state, shall include uninsured motorist coverage, subject to provisions filed with and approved by the commissioner, for the protection of persons insured under the policy who are legally entitled to recover compensatory damages from owners or operators of uninsured motor vehicles because of bodily injury, sickness or disease, including death, resulting from injury, sickness or disease.

     (1)  The limits of the uninsured motorist coverage shall be equal to the bodily injury liability limits stated in the policy.

     (2)  However, any named insured may reject in writing the uninsured motorist coverage completely or select lower limits of the coverage but not less than the minimum coverage limits in § 55-12-107. Any document signed by the named insured or legal representative that initially rejects the coverage or selects lower limits shall be binding upon every insured to whom the policy applies, and shall be conclusively presumed to become a part of the policy or contract when issued or delivered, regardless of whether physically attached to the policy or contract. Unless the named insured subsequently requests the coverage in writing, the rejected coverage need not be included in or supplemental to any continuation, renewal, reinstatement, or replacement of the policy, or the transfer of vehicles insured under the policy, where the named insured had rejected the coverage in connection with a policy previously issued by the same insurer; provided, that whenever a new application is submitted in connection with any renewal, reinstatement or replacement transaction, this section shall apply in the same manner as when a new policy is being issued.

     (3)  No uninsured or underinsured motorist coverage need be provided in this state by an excess or umbrella policy of insurance.

(b)  (1)  With respect to bodily injury to an insured, at a time when the insured is not occupying any motor vehicle, the insurance on the vehicle under which the injured party is an insured with the highest limits of uninsured motorist coverage shall apply, and no other uninsured motorist coverage shall apply. In no instance shall uninsured motorist coverage from more than one (1) policy be available as primary coverage, nor shall the injured party be an occupant of more than one (1) vehicle at one (1) time.

     (2)  With respect to bodily injury to an insured while occupying a motor vehicle owned by the insured, only the limits of uninsured motorist coverage on the vehicle in which the insured was an occupant shall apply. The limits of uninsured motorist coverage shall not be increased because of multiple motor vehicles whether covered under a single policy or multiple policies, and in no event shall the total amount of recovery from all policies and bonds, including any amount recovered under the insured's uninsured motorist coverage, exceed the limits of the insured's uninsured motorist coverage.

     (3)  With respect to bodily injury to an insured while occupying an automobile not owned by the insured, the following priorities of recovery under uninsured motorist coverage apply:

          (A)  The uninsured motorist coverage on the vehicle in which the insured was an occupant shall be the primary uninsured motorist coverage;

          (B)  If uninsured motorist coverage on the vehicle in which the insured was an occupant is exhausted due to the extent of compensatory damages, then the uninsured motorist coverage provided by a policy under which the insured is a named insured shall be applicable as excess coverage to the policy described in subdivision (b)(1); provided, that if the insured is covered as a named insured under more than one (1) policy, then only the policy with the highest limits of uninsured motorist coverage shall apply;

          (C)  If the uninsured motorist coverage provided under the policies described in subdivisions (b)(3)(A) and (B), if applicable, is exhausted due to the extent of compensatory damages, then the uninsured motorist coverage provided by a policy under which the insured is covered other than as a named insured shall be applicable as excess coverage to the policies listed in subdivisions (b)(3)(A) and (B); provided, that if the insured is covered by more than one (1) such policy, then only the policy with the highest limits of uninsured motorist coverage shall apply; and

          (D)  In no instance shall the insured be entitled to receive total benefits from all policies listed in subdivisions (b)(3)(A)-(C) in an amount greater than the limits of the policy providing the highest limits of uninsured motorist coverage.

(c)  (1)  Every insured purchasing uninsured motorist bodily injury coverage shall be provided an opportunity to include uninsured motorist property damage coverage, subject to provisions filed with and approved by the commissioner, applicable to losses in excess of two hundred dollars ($200). However, the deductible of two hundred dollars ($200) shall not apply if:

          (A)  The vehicle involved in the accident is insured by the same insurer for both collision and uninsured motorist property damage coverage; and

          (B)  The operator of the other vehicle has been positively identified and is solely at fault.

     (2)  No insurer shall be required to offer limits of property damage coverage greater in amount than the property damage liability limits purchased by the insured. After the uninsured motorist property damage coverage has been made available to an insured one (1) time and has been rejected in writing, it need not again be made available in any continuation, renewal, reinstatement, or replacement of the policy, or the transfer of vehicles insured under the policy, unless the insured makes a written request for the coverage; provided, that whenever a new application is submitted in connection with any renewal, reinstatement, or replacement transaction, this section shall apply in the same manner as when a new policy is being issued. As used in this section, “property damage” means damage to either the insured vehicle or property owned by an insured while in the insured vehicle.

(d)  The limit of liability for an insurer providing uninsured motorist coverage under this section is the amount of that coverage as specified in the policy less the sum of the limits collectible under all liability and/or primary uninsured motorist insurance policies, bonds, and securities applicable to the bodily injury or death of the insured. With regard to a claim against a governmental unit, political subdivision or agency thereof, the limitations of liability established under applicable law shall be considered as limits collectible under a liability insurance policy.

(e)  If the owner or operator of any motor vehicle that causes bodily injury or property damage to the insured is unknown, the insured shall have no right to recover under the uninsured motorist provision unless:

     (1)  (A)  Actual physical contact has occurred between the motor vehicle owned or operated by the unknown person and the person or property of the insured; or

          (B)  The existence of the unknown motorist is established by clear and convincing evidence, other than any evidence provided by occupants in the insured vehicle;

     (2)  The insured or someone in the insured's behalf has reported the accident to the appropriate law enforcement agency within a reasonable time after its occurrence; and

     (3)  The insured was not negligent in failing to determine the identity of the other vehicle and the owner or operator of the other vehicle at the time of the accident.

(f)  No insurer shall increase the automobile insurance rate or premium of an insured with uninsured motorist coverage nor cancel the coverage due solely to the payment of any claim under uninsured motorist coverage.

(g)  Failure of the motorist from whom the insured is legally entitled to recover damages to file the appropriate forms required by the department of safety pursuant to the Financial Responsibility Law, compiled in title 55, chapter 12, within ninety (90) days of the accident date shall create a rebuttable presumption that the motorist was uninsured at the time of the accident. After the ninety (90) days and upon paying a fee as set by the department, the commissioner shall issue a certified affidavit indicating whether the forms have been filed.

(h)  An insurer's proof of compliance with this section may be accomplished by the capture of the named insured's signature or initials, or that of the insured's legal representative, by means of electronic imaging. However, this subsection (h) shall not be construed to authorize utilization of an electronic image of the signature or initials for any purpose other than demonstrating insurer compliance with the requirements of this section. In accordance with the Uniform Administrative Procedures Act, compiled in title 4, chapter 5, the commissioner shall promulgate rules prescribing fines and/or other disciplinary actions to be imposed for insurer misuse of an electronic image of the signature or initials.

[Acts 1967, ch. 371, § 1; 1974, ch. 697, § 1; 1977, ch. 359, § 1; impl. am. Acts 1977, ch. 446, §§ 7, 39; Acts 1978, ch. 710, § 1; T.C.A., § 56-1148; Acts 1981, ch. 291, § 2; 1982, ch. 835, § 1; 1984, ch. 654, § 1; 1986, ch. 493, §§ 1, 2; 1986, ch. 667, § 1; 1988, ch. 605, § 1; 1989, ch. 313, § 1; 1993, ch. 112, § 1; 1993, ch. 137, § 1; 1996, ch. 711, § 1; 1996, ch. 825, § 1; 1999, ch. 196, § 1.]  

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