Is the car you drive covered by an automobile insurance policy? If it isn’t, make sure to change that as soon as possible. If it is, however, don’t take comfort that you’ll be fully covered if you get into an accident. It’s best to protect yourself in case you get into an accident caused by an uninsured or under-insured driver. Make sure your own insurance policy has the proper provisions to cover you in these situations. The three provisions on your policy that you need are: collision insurance, uninsured motorist coverage, and underinsured motorist coverage.
1. Collision Insurance protects your property damage if you’re in an accident. Whether the accident is your fault or someone else’s, collision insurance will make sure that your vehicle property damage is covered. So if someone causes an accident with you and they are uninsured, at least with collision coverage, your property is protected.
2. Uninsured Motorist Coverage is a separate policy that does not come standard in liability auto insurance policies in all states. There are separate limits that can be purchased under the uninsured motorist policy, to protect you in case you are injured. So, if you’re in an accident caused by an uninsured motorist and you have an uninsured motorist policy in your plan, any injuries you sustain from your accident will be covered by the policy up to the limit of coverage you’ve purchased.
3. Underinsured Motorist Coverage protects you if you are injured in a crash and the other driver does not have enough insurance to cover your damages. You then can make a claim with your insurance company to cover your medical bills, lost wages, and pain and suffering. Think of it this way: If the other driver has only $25,000 in coverage and your medical bills are $125,000, you’ll need at least $100,000 in underinsured coverage, just to cover your medical bills. This type of coverage is especially important now, as certain states only require $25,000 of liability coverage for the other driver.
When the policy holder has not specified what he or she wants, many insurance companies will write very low uninsured motorist limits of liability. In such an event, the insurance company might write an amount as low as $25,000. Realistically, today’s high medical costs combined with lost wages from missing work might mean that $25,000 barely covers your damages. If you are in an accident and your medical bills and damages exceed the $25,000 policy limit, you will be responsible for the excess.
To protect yourself, you need to be sure to purchase an uninsured motorist policy that you believe will reasonably cover your damages and costs, even if you are in a serious accident. It is advisable to consult with your insurance agent about what amount may be best.
Protect yourself from those who drive without insurance—or even without enough insurance. Talk to your insurance agent to make sure that you have in your auto insurance policy collision coverage, uninsured coverage, and underinsured coverage. Also, make sure you purchase an appropriate amount of insurance on your uninsured coverage and underinsured coverage, so that your damages are covered if you’re in a serious accident.
Attorney Laura Jo Busian