Edward Wittrig


As a result, the implementation, application, and interpretation of this important piece of legislation has been left largely to the providence of the Missouri judicial system. When faced with litigation surrounding the UM statute, Missouri courts have often broadly interpreted the statute, extending its coverage to a large class of insureds as well as increasing the maximum amount of recovery possible. Additionally, insurers have often struggled to obtain favorable decisions in Missouri courts, especially in cases appealed to the Supreme Court of Missouri, and have failed to establish a concrete boundary that limits the scope and extent of UM coverage. Despite this tendency to define the coverage required by the UM statute broadly, some Missouri courts have imposed limits on the reach of the statute. In this murky atmosphere regarding the UM statute, the Supreme Court of Missouri decided Floyd-Tunnell v. Shelter Mutual Insurance Co. Decisions, such as Floyd-Tunnell, that interpret UM coverage are becoming increasingly important as the cost of injuries in automobile accidents, as well as the population of uninsured drivers, increase. Because uninsured drivers comprise a significant portion of the driving pool in each state, the issue of who qualifies as an insured in UM provisions can often determine whether a claimant is actually able to recover any damages for the injuries sustained in a car accident for which the claimant is not at fault. Judicial decisions that act to extend or limit the application of a policy’s UM coverage also have real consequences beyond determining the extent, if any, of possible recovery for individual claimants, as these decisions determine the future costs of premiums as well as future policy language and provisions across the state. After reviewing the relevant case law surrounding the UM statute, this Note will examine the greater ramifications of the Supreme Court of Missouri’s decision to limit UM coverage in wrongful death cases to the damages sustained by the insured decedent, rather than for injuries that a coinsured personally endured.

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