Mississippi Insurance Law – Part 9

Mississippi Insurance Law – Part 9 MISSISSIPPI Insurance-Related Law  — An A to Z Guide Here’s the next post sharing our 2016 update.  If you like a full copy or have any questions, please email or call. Title of Vehicle Mississippi is a “title” state.  By statute, Mississippi does not regard the sale of a motor vehicle as consummated until the certificate of title is properly transferred and delivered to the purchaser. Until this occurs, the seller is regarded as in possession of legal title to the vehicle.  In this regard, Mississippi Code Annotated § 63-21-31 states in pertinent part: (1) If an owner transfers his interest in a vehicle, … other than by the creation of a security interest, he shall, at the time of the delivery of the vehicle, … execute an assignment and warranty of title to the transferee in the space provided therefor on the certificate or as the State Tax Commission prescribes, and cause the certificate and assignment to be mailed or delivered to the transferee. (5) … a transfer by an owner is not effective until the provisions of this section have been complied with. See also Hicks v. Thomas, 516 So.2d 1344, 1346 (Miss.1987) (this statute “accepts certainty of title as our primary value, and provides a simple method for transferring title to motor vehicles-endorsement and delivery to the transferee of the title certificate”).   Owner Liability Without some special relationship, an owner of an automobile, merely by virtue of his ownership interest, is not liable for injuries negligently caused by a permissive driver.  Wood v. Nichols, 416 So. 2d 659 (Miss. 1982).  See also Vicarious Liability.   Towing A towing company may recover from the insurer if the insurer takes title of the vehicle and doesn’t pay fees.  An insurer may not assume or accede to title without assuming the credit obligations for towing and storage as well.  Once an insurer has succeeded to title they may not abandon the vehicle without consent of the towing or storage service.  Miss. Code Ann. § 83-11-301. Unfair Claims Settlement Practices Mississippi has not adopted the Model Unfair Claims Settlement Practices Act, but has analyzed the conformity of the Mississippi statute on mandatory policy provisions, Miss. Code Ann. § 83-9-5, with the Model Act.  Lewis v. Equity Nat. Life Ins. Co., 637 So. 2d 183, 188 (Miss. 1994). Uninsured/Underinsured Motorist UM Statute Mississippi mandates uninsured motorists (UM) coverage be provided in every policy of automobile insurance issued in the state, unless rejected in writing.  Miss. Code Ann. § 83-11-101. Mississippi law does not treat UM claims separately from underinsured motorist (UIM) claims.  The statute merely defines an uninsured motorist to include the underinsured motorist. Mississippi’s UM statute, incorporated into every policy, does not speak to accidents or negligence, but only provides that it covers “all sums which the insured is entitled to recover as damages . . . .”  Miss. Code Ann. § 83-11-101.  The Automobile Insurance Law and Practice treatise states that the purpose is to protect innocent insureds that are injured “as a result of the negligence of” financially irresponsible drivers.  See also, Harthcock v. State Farm Mut. Auto. Ins. Co., 248 So. 2d 456 (Miss. 1971).  While the UM statute does not clearly describe what constitutes an insured event, UM endorsements commonly contain a coverage provision which requires that the insured’s injuries or damages be caused by an “accident.” Further, UM coverage must arise out of the “ownership, maintenance or use” of an uninsured vehicle.  Spradlin v. State Farm Mut. Auto. Ins. Co., 650 So. 2d 1383 (Miss. 1995). The UM statute does not mandate coverage for punitive damages that might be assessed against an uninsured motorist.  State Farm Mut. Auto. Ins. Co. v. Daughdrill, 474 So. 2d 1048 (Miss. 1985).  Policy language excluding punitive damages is permitted.  However, if not excluded, it is covered. NOTE: The statute does not prevent an insurer from providing greater coverage than required by the statutes.  Thus, it is very important to always review both the statute and the policy.  The UM statute is only the floor for coverage and the policy may grant additional benefits. Uninsured Motor Vehicle Definition Miss Code Ann. § 83-11-103 defines an “uninsured motor vehicle” to mean: (1) a motor vehicle as to which there is no bodily injury liability insurance; or (2) a motor vehicle with liability insurance, but the insurance company has legally denied coverage or is unable, because of being insolvent at the time of or becoming insolvent during the 12 months following the accident, to make payment with respect to the legal liability of its insured; or (3) an insured motor vehicle, when the liability insurer of such vehicle has provided limits of bodily injury liability for its insured which are less than the limits applicable to the injured person provided under his uninsured motorist coverage; or (4) a motor vehicle

Source: Holcomb Dunbar Mississippi Insurance Law – Part 9 – Holcomb Dunbar

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