BEFORE YOU HAVE AN ACCIDENT MAKE SURE YOU HAVE THE CORRECT INSURANCE COVERAGES TO PROVIDE YOU THE BEST PROTECTION
Many people think if an accident is not their fault they should not have to have their insurance pay anything or even be involved. In theory this is correct, however, unfortunately many times the responsible party does not have insurance at all or the insurance they have, although sufficient to comply with the law, is not sufficient to protect your interests.
LIABIILTY INSUANCE: The State of California requires that all vehicles be insured with Liability coverage which will pay out if you injure or cause damages to another person. Unfortunately, currently the lowest coverage allowed in some instances is $10,000 per person maximum and $20,000 per accident maximum. This coverage is unusual and only for certain persons of low income that qualify under a state program. The most common coverage is $15,000/$30,000. Again this means that the most an insurance company will pay for you regardless of the extent of your injuries or medical expenses is $15,000. This is called the limits of the policy. That is in the event that the person responsible for causing the accident purchased the lowest coverage. The next level of coverage would be $25,000/$50,000.
If the other driver’s policy limits are insufficient, you can sue the driver. However, any payments over the limits of the insurance will come from the personal assets of the other drivers. Lawsuits are costly and time consuming and not always the correct path to take.
HOW YOUR OWN INSURANCE CAN HELP IN THIS SITUATION: If you find yourself in the above situation, and in the unfortunate condition of having a case with a value over the policy limits of the other driver, your insurance may contribute to help maximize your recovery, provided that you have underinsurance and medical payments on your own policy.
MEDICAL PAYMENTS (MED-PAY): When you purchase insurance, you will be offered coverage in the form of medical payments for an additional fee. There are limits of $1000 and up that your insurance will contribute towards the payment of your medical bills (up to the amount of the limits purchased) in the event of an auto accident. In cases where the liability limits of the other driver are insufficient to cover your medical bills as well as compensation for your pain and suffering, the med- pay contributions will help in covering the medical expenses. Beware that most med- pay policies are reimbursable, which means your insurance will issue payment to assist you in paying your medical bills. However, in the event that there is insurance coverage on the other driver, they will expect to be reimbursed for any money collected from the other party (unless you can establish the reasons why there is still not enough money to cover all expenses). Although rare, reimbursement can be waived with the correct approach.
UNINSURED/UNDERINSURANCE MOTORIST COVERAGE: If the party responsible for the accident is uninsured at the time of the accident and if you have Uninsured Motorist coverage on your policy, you may make a claim against your own insurance for your damages. Your insurance will require evidence that the other driver was not insured, which can be obtained from the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV). Once this Certificate of No Coverage is obtained from the DMV and provided to your insurance company, they will consider all of your medical bills and injury information and provide you with an offer to resolve your claim.
Underinsurance is a coverage that can be added to your existing insurance policy for an additional fee, and which will provide additional coverage to you in the event that the other driver’s coverage is not enough to compensate you for your physical injuries and medical bills. For underinsurance to apply, your case must 1) have a value of over the limits of the other driver and 2) your limits under this particular portion of your policy must exceed those of the other driver. For example, if you purchase underinsurance with coverage of $25,000.00, the other driver has liability coverage of $15,000.00, and your case is evaluated at a value of $20,000.00, you would receive a gross settlement from the other driver’s insurance in the amount of $15,000.00. Your insurance would also contribute $5000.00 from your underinsurance portion towards a gross settlement of $20,000.00 combined.
INSURANCE COVERAGES ARE COMPLICATED AND ARE NOT USUALLY EXPLAINED IN GREAT DETAIL BY AN INSURANCE AGENT. BE SURE TO ASK QUESTIONS BEFORE PURCHASING INSURANCE TO MAKE SURE YOU HAVE THE BEST COVERAGE AVAILABLE TO YOU IN THE EVENT OF AN UNFORTUNATE FUTURE SITUATION.
CONTACT ATTORNEY BARBARA M. RODRIGUEZ TO REVIEW YOUR POLICY TODAY SO YOU ARE PROTECTED IN THE FUTURE!