Of course, we hope that you are never in a motor vehicle accident and never have to use this information. But things happen, and it is important to be prepared. You are required by law to have basic auto insurance, but most people don’t think too much about their coverage beyond paying the bills. But when you need the coverage itself, it can be life-changing. If you have been injured in an accident caused by another’s negligence, it is important to speak with an attorney to discuss your insurance coverage, options, whether the other party’s insurance company is treating you fairly, and the best course of action. But there are several relatively easy steps that you can take to be better prepared. Here are some important things to keep in mind when considering, selecting, or modifying your auto insurance policy:
1) Uninsured and underinsured motorist coverage matters: If you or your loved ones are ever seriously injured due to the negligence of someone without insurance coverage, or with minimal insurance coverage, you will need to turn to your own uninsured/underinsured motorist (UIM) policy to cover medical bills, lost wages, and other expenses. You do not want to find yourself in a situation where you have $100,000 in medical bills but only $25,000 in UIM coverage (the minimum on most policies). It is generally the best practice to maintain at least $100,000 in UIM coverage. Oftentimes, the increase in your insurance rates for this potentially crucial coverage is minimal – talk to your insurance company to see what it would cost to be sure you are covered against those with minimal insurance coverage or none at all.
2) Liability insurance really matters: Liability insurance is the main requirement imposed by law; it helps cover expenses for those injured in an accident that you caused. Of course, no one wants to think they may cause an accident and injure someone else, but things happen, and the best thing you can do is ensure that you have adequate coverage should that situation arise. What many people don’t realize, however, is that someone injured in an accident that was your fault can sue you personally, and try to recover from your personal funds and assets, if your liability insurance coverage is inadequate. That’s a scary thought. Everything from your savings account, to your vehicles, to your home can potentially be the subject of a lawsuit to recover for damages that your insurance policy did not cover. And the best way to avoid that possibility is to maintain high liability coverage. Keeping your coverage over $300,000 is a good idea, and coverage over $500,000 is even better.
3) Bodily Injury Liability (BIL) and Personal Injury Protection (PIP): Bodily Injury Liability (BIL) coverage pays for injuries and medical expenses of those injured in a crash that you caused. Like liability coverage, it can help shield you from personal liability for those expenses. Personal Injury Protection (PIP) is usually for you and your passengers – if you or a passenger is injured in an accident, PIP will pay your medical providers directly when you need treatment. This is important, because it prevents you from having to pay those expenses out-of-pocket only to try to recoup them later from the other party’s insurance company. After an accident, you don’t want to be worried about whether you can pay your medical bills, particularly if you are forced to miss work or are unable to operate your business. PIP can provide important peace of mind, and ensure that you and your passengers are able to get the treatment you need.
Again, we at the La Rocco Law Firm, P.C. hope you never need this information. But good insurance coverage can mean the difference between an accident that negatively impacts your life forever and an accident that is simply an unpleasant event from which you can move on with peace of mind as soon as possible. If you have been injured in an accident, again, it is important to speak with an attorney to see what your claim is worth, whether the insurance company is treating you fairly, and whether you need to hire an attorney. Consultations and case evaluations are always free, so give us a call at (360) 603-9545 to see how we can help. Save travels, everyone.