Do you know what your auto insurance coverage is? Do you know how much your limits are? If you do, you're the exception. When I speak to groups and ask this question, usually less than 10 percent of the people raise their hands. The first step in optimizing your insurance coverage is to know what you already have.
Not all personal injury claims result from car accidents, but these accidents are by far the most common cause of injury claims. As a result, I spend a lot of time talking to people about auto accidents and auto insurance. Every state has some requirement for auto insurance. Because of this requirement, nearly everyone has some kind of insurance. However, I am continually surprised by how little people actually know about auto insurance. This blog series breaks down auto insurance into its most common components, explains what each coverage does, and advises you on the essential coverage you should make sure you have to protect yourself and your family.
The most common types of insurance coverage are liability, uninsured or underinsured coverage, and personal injury protection (PIP). In addition, you can usually purchase comprehensive coverage, rental car coverage, roadside assistance, and many other options.
In Part 1 of this series we discussed liability insurance. Now, let's take a look at uninsured and underinsured motorist coverage:
UNINSURED/UNDERINSURED MOTORIST COVERAGE (UM/UIM)
While your liability coverage pays for the damages you cause, it does not do anything to help you when you are injured by someone else. Once that person's liability coverage is exhausted, or if he doesn't have insurance, you are out of luck unless you have purchased uninsured/underinsured coverage as part of your own auto insurance.
This type of coverage is specifically designed to pay for your damages when the person who caused the accident is uninsured or underinsured. This is not a no-fault coverage, so you still need to prove that the person who caused the accident was negligent, and that your injuries were caused by that negligence, and your insurance company will often fight you on that. But if you can prove those things, then the coverage is there to compensate you for your losses.
The interesting thing about UM/UIM coverage is that your insurance acts as if it is the liability insurance for the person who caused the accident. That means it will use all of the tactics the other driver's insurance would use-denying fault for the accident, blaming your injuries on something else, and arguing that your treatment was excessive. Your insurance company has no loyalty to you, even if you've been paying the same company monthly premiums for years. If you are asking it for money, you are its adversary, and it will aggressively work to minimize your recovery.
You are usually not allowed to purchase UM/UIM coverage with a higher limit than your liability coverage, which is another reason you should always have more than the minimum required by law. A limit of $25,000 may seem like a lot, but with a serious injury, you could have medical bills in excess of $25,000 within days. With so many uninsured and underinsured drivers on the road, you owe it to yourself and your family to make sure you are adequately covered. I recommend paying a little more for at least $100,000/$300,000 coverage for both liability and UM/UIM. This amount will be adequate to cover all but the most catastrophic claims, and it will protect you if you suffer a serious injury. If you can afford it, increase your liability and UIM coverage to $500,000/$500,000. It only costs a little bit more, and it can really give you peace of mind that your family is protected.
If you have questions about auto insurance coverage or anything relating to personal injury claims, please explore our website or give us a call. When you know your rights, it makes it harder for the insruance companies to bully you.