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Legal Memorandum: Notice Requirements to an Insurer

Issue: Under Minnesota law, what is the minimum content and form of a notice to insurers of the commencement of an action an uninsured motorist policy?

Area of Law: Insurance Law, Litigation & Procedure
Keywords: Notice requirements; Underinsured Motorist Policy; Commencement of action
Jurisdiction: Minnesota
Cited Cases: 520 N.W.2d 763; 459 N.W.2d 923; 338 N.W.2d 256
Cited Statutes: None
Date: 10/01/2004

In the absence of contractual provision setting out the notice requirements, an insured must give the insurer a thirty-day written notice of a tentative settlement agreement.  See Schmidt v. Clothier, 338 N.W.2d 256 (Minn. 1983).  The purpose of a notice requirement is to provide the insurer with a period of time in which to assess the case and evaluate relevant factors such as: 1) the amount of liability insurance remaining, if any; 2) the amount of assets held by the tortfeasor and the likelihood of their recovery via subrogation; 3) the total amount of the insured’s damages; and 4) the expenses and risks of litigating the insured’s cause of action.  Behrens v. Am. Family Mut. Ins. Co., 520 N.W.2d 763 (Minn. 1994). 

In American Family Mutual Insurance Co. v. Baumann, 459 N.W.2d 923 (Minn. 1990), the Minnesota Supreme court held that a Schmidt notice should provide the following information:

1.                  That a settlement agreement has been reached contingent upon the uninsured motor carrier’s decision to substitute its draft;

 

2.                  The identity of the insured;

 

3.                  The identity of the tortfeasor and the tortfeasor’s insurer;

 

4.                  The limits of the tortfeasor’s automobile liability insurance; and

 

5.                  The agreed-upon amount of […]

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