Examining Automobile Insurance with a Legal Eye

When I ask an injured client about their auto insurance coverage, it’s to learn if there is a way for them to collect in the event the other driver does not have insurance coverage, or if it’s insufficient to cover the losses sustained. Inevitably, the answer is “I have full coverage.” What is full coverage?

Here are 3 real things to look when reviewing your Auto Insurance Policy:

  1. Do you have enough liability coverage to cover a serious injury to others?
  2. Do you own a house in addition to your car?
  3. Do you have a provision that covers medical bills (basic reparations), either yours, a family member or a passenger in your car? 

Are your Uninsured and Underinsured Motorist provisions good for you?

The insurance policy provision for Uninsured and Underinsured Motorists protections is very important. Current law provides a minimum requirement of $25,000 per person, and $50,000 per occurrence. It is normal for the UM/UIM coverage to equal your chosen liability limits. Also, it’s possible to increase your UM/UIM limits to an amount that is double your liability limit. There is also a feature which improves UIM/UM coverages that is optional and is called “conversion coverage”. This enhances the amount of insurance protection afforded to the policy holder, and a very careful review with the insurance agent should be considered.

Do you have an umbrella policy?

Umbrella policies offer an additional level of security once the underlying policy limits have been exhausted.  The extra cost of an umbrella policy is worth it because it provides you with a level of protection beyond the basic insurance policy. For specific information about your situation and policy coverage, check with your insurance carrier.  

From a legal perspective, it’s really smart to review your policy every year and ask yourself “what if.” What if my child has an accident and there are four other kids in the car?  Can I get sued?  Yes, you can. Do you have enough coverage to make sure they all are made whole, and no one comes after your house?

Is a standard $10,000 property damage provision enough?  No, that’s low.  Most car accidents can cause property damages in excess of $30,000, so raising your limits to $50,000 is a good idea. If an accident causes both property damage and personal injuries, you need sufficient coverage to pay for the property destroyed, i.e., the other car, a guardrail, or a telephone pole.

Should I have medical pay coverage??  Yes, without question.  With at least $20,000 medical coverage, if you ever find yourself not covered under a health insurance policy and are involved in a car accident with injuries, your medical bills will be paid up to that limit, regardless of fault.

Finally, how much is enough?  The answer is what your agent tells you, and what your pocketbook can afford.

All insurance policies are not alike.  Educate yourself on what “full coverage” actually means.  It’s necessary to get the insurance that suits your individual needs, regardless of cost.  Don’t simply chase the lowest premiums.  The best advice is to carefully question your insurance agent and disclose to that agent what you are concerned about and what insurance will offer you the most protections at the best cost.

You can count on Ericson, Scalise & Mangan, PC to provide you with sound guidance and experience in these uncertain times. For assistance with your legal needs, please contact us today at (860) 229-0369, or email us at info@esmlaw.com.