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Chances are good that the average Calif. policyholder opting to purchase uninsured motorist coverage is unaware of the broad scope of coverage that must be afforded under the uninsured motorist statute. For one thing, the insurance is mandatory in all motor vehicle liability policies issued in the state, unless specifically waived in writing.

The uninsured motorist statute mandates that all motor vehicle liability policies issued in California cover “the insured, the insured’s heirs, or legal representative for all sums within the limits that he, she, or they, as the case may be, shall be legally entitled to recover as damages for bodily injury or wrongful death from the owner or operator of an uninsured motor vehicle,” unless such coverage is rejected in writing by the insured. This also includes underinsured motorist coverage. Therefore, if the applicant does not sign a deletion agreement — or the waiver is somehow defective — then a court could find that uninsured motorist coverage attached, even though it is not reflected in the policy’s declarations and no premium was paid.

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