Being in an automobile collision is often one of the worst experiences a person goes through. This experience is even worse when there is not enough insurance to pay for all of the injuries and suffering that result from the crash. At the Barnett, Bennett, & Scott LLP, we have dealt with thousands of people who have been involved in auto collisions. Many of these people cannot get all of the help they deserve because of inadequate insurance or the wrong type of insurance. Many times people tell us that they have “full coverage” believing that they are adequately protected. In reality there is no such thing as “full coverage.” Make sure you know the details of your auto insurance policy rather than just believing that you are “fully covered.”
One accident victim was involved in a horrific crash where he was in the hospital for weeks, seriously immobilized for several months and unable to return to work for a year. His medical bills and lost income were over $150,000. This did not even include any money for pain and suffering. Unfortunately, the driver who caused the accident only had a $15,000 insurance policy and did not even come close to compensating the victim for everything he lost. Here are some different types of insurance that you should have on your auto policy to make sure that you protect yourself, your family, and other people on the roads.
This is the most basic type of insurance, and it only covers damage that you cause to other people and other vehicles. California requires that you carry personal injury liability and property liability in the following amounts.
- Personal Injury: $15,000 for injury or death to one person and $30,000 for injury or death to another person.
- Property: $5,000 for the damaged property of another person.
Although these small amounts may be sufficient for minor collisions, most crashes involve injuries that greatly exceed the small minimum requirements.
To make sure that you are protecting other drivers, you should never consider having such a small amount of insurance. You will often be surprised to find that it is relatively inexpensive to get a much higher amount on your liability coverage. If your insurance policy is not enough to pay for another person’s injuries, the injured person can sue you and recover from your personal assets.
This covers damage to your vehicle when you are involved in an accident even if it is your fault. You will usually have to pay a deductible if the accident is your fault. It is often a good idea to have a high deductible amount, because it will make your rates much less expensive.
This is similar to collision coverage, but it covers damage to your vehicle from things other than a collision. This could be hazards in the road, theft, vandalism, fire, falling trees, and weather damage.
Uninsured/Underinsured Motorist Coverage
With so many drivers with no insurance or with small insurance policies, it is important to protect yourself and your family with uninsured motorist coverage.
If someone else causes a crash and they don’t have enough insurance, your uninsured motorist coverage can make up the difference.
Some people might say, “I have medical insurance, so I don’t really need Uninsured Motorist Insurance.” This is a big mistake. Your health insurance only pays for medical bills and does not pay for the additional losses that you may suffer in an accident. If you are unable to work because of your injuries, uninsured motorist insurance can pay for your lost earnings. It will also provide compensation for all of your pain and suffering.
Uninsured motorist coverage is very inexpensive, and you should always get the maximum policy. It can’t be higher than your liability insurance, so if you need a higher uninsured motorist policy, you should also get a higher liability policy.
Medical Payments Insurance
Medical payments (med-pay) insurance is another important insurance option. It covers any medical treatment that you, your family, or your passengers receive because of injuries from an automobile collision. Even if you have health insurance, med-pay is very helpful because it can pay for things that your health insurance won’t. It can pay for your co-pays and deductibles. It can pay for treatment not covered by your health insurance such as chiropractors. More importantly, you will not be limited to the doctors in your health insurance network if you need to see a specialist.
The Dangers of no Insurance
The biggest danger of no insurance or inadequate insurance is that you will not be able to help yourself or others who are injured in a crash.
When you don’t have insurance, there is also a law in California that limits the amount of money that you can recover even when an accident is somebody else’s fault. If you don’t have insurance and somebody else causes an accident, you only get money for medical bills, lost income, and property damage. You can receive no money for pain and suffering or all of the other intangible losses in your life, which are usually the biggest losses.
Overall, you must make sure that you get the best insurance that will protect you and others. Take the time to talk to your insurance agent to get the best insurance you can.