Most people have car insurance but many do not fully understand their policies and what is covered. Often people do not even read their policy until after they have been injured in a car accident and are considering hiring a car accident lawyer to help them recover their damages. This articles breaks down the basic categories of auto insurance so you can know what you need before you are injured in a car crash. Do not wait until you need a personal injury attorney because you might not have the coverage you need.
| COMMON CATEGORIES OF MOTOR VEHICLE INSURANCE|
| Bodily Injury Liability|
| Personal Injury Protection|
| Property Damage Liability|
| Uninsured Motorist Coverage|
| Underinsured Motorist Coverage|
● Bodily Injury Liability
This covers injuries that you, the designated driver or policyholder causes to someone else. It also covers you and the family members you list in your policy when driving someone else's car (with their permission).
● Personal Injury Protection
Personal Injury Protection (PIP) pays for medical bills incurred to treat injuries to the driver and other people in the car. PIP will pay the medical bills no matter who is at fault for the collision.
● Property Damage Liability
Property Damage Liability pays for damage you or whoever is driving your car (with your permission) causes to someone's property, such as their vehicle. But it can also include fences, telephone poles or other structures you hit with your car.
This pays for damage to your car if you collide with another car or object, or your car flips over. It can also pay for damage to your car due to driving over potholes.
This will reimburse you for loss due to theft or damage caused by something other than a collision with another car or object. This could include fire, vandalism or contact with an animal, such as a deer.
● Uninsured Motorist Coverage
Uninsured Motorist (UM) coverage reimburses you if you, a family member or your designated driver is hit by an uninsured driver, a hit-and-run driver or an unidentified vehicle that forces you to have a collision. Generally, you should report (based on your policy) any accidents involving a hit and run or unidentified vehicle to local law enforcement with 72 hours and get contact information from anyone who witnessed the accident. Be sure to talk with your agent and check your policy for specific requirements.
● Underinsured Motorist Coverage
Underinsured Motorist (UIM) coverage reimburses you if you, a family member or your designated driver is hit by another driver who has insurance but his or her policy does not provide enough money to pay for all your damages.
"How Much Auto Insurance do I need?"
Do not assume that if you are involved in a collision, the other driver’s insurance company will pay your damages. Even though it is against the law to drive a vehicle in Washington without insurance there are far too many people on the road without insurance. In fact, according to the Insurance Research Council, 16% of the drivers on the roads in Washington do not have insurance. That means if you are involved in a collision there is at least a 1 in 6 chance that the other driver does not have insurance. The actual probability of being hit by an uninsured driver is probably greater than 1 in 6 because the same people who are irresponsible enough to drive without insurance are also irresponsible on the roads. They may have been involved in several accidents or received several tickets and now cannot afford insurance. Do not let them destroy your life too.
Even if a person who injures you in a motor vehicle collision has insurance, they probably do not have adequate insurance. The minimum liability coverage that an insurance company must offer to a resident of Washington is $25,000. With the skyrocketing cost of medical care, $25,000 is not enough for most motor vehicle injuries. Even a “minor impact” collision can cause substantial harm both physically and financially. Most of our clients who are involved in rear-end collisions with relatively minor damage to the vehicles suffer back and or neck injuries. They typically treat with a combination of chiropractic care, massage therapy, or physical therapy. Just a few months of treatment can cost more than $5,000.
More serious injuries can cause the medical bills to skyrocket quickly. Just an initial visit to the ER with a CT scan or MRI will likely exceed $10,000. Any time a person is admitted to a hospital or needs surgery, the cost can quickly become too much for any middle class family to bear. With the right insurance coverage, however, those bills can be an afterthought and you can focus on your recovery.
When deciding what coverage to get, always err on the side of more. A policy with $35,000 in Personal Injury Protection is a good start. The Underinsured Motorist Coverage should be at least $100,000 but $250,000 is much better. Never settle for the minimum policy even if it saves you a little money up front. No one expects to be involved in a collision but if you are, it is nice to know that you have a policy that can take care of your finances so you can take care of you.
Unfortunately just having the right coverage does not always mean you will be fairly compensated. Protecting your rights and your financial well-being starts with being prepared and knowing what to do if you are involved in a collision. Stopping your insurance company from delaying, denying, or wrongfully defending your legitimate claims is the focus of practice. If you need help with a car accident injury claim, please do not hesitate to contact our attorneys at Sadler Ladenburg. We help victims of car accidents in Tacoma, Seattle, Olympia and all of Washington. If you just want to learn more about auto insurance and the injury claim process, you can request a free copy of Erik Ladenburg's book What Insurance Companies Don't Want You To Know by clicking here.