April 20, 2024
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What you need to know before purchasing auto insurance.

(Courtesy of Rothenberg Law Firm) You may not know it, but your auto insurance may not cover you if you are in a car accident with an uninsured or underinsured driver, even when you are not at fault. Considering that recent statistics suggest that a significant percentage of drivers in America are uninsured, and that a majority are underinsured, you do not want to take that chance. You can protect yourself and your family by adding the appropriate amounts of this and other types of coverage to your insurance policy for a typically modest additional premium.

 

What Do the Terms Mean?

Uninsured and Underinsured Motorist coverage are similar in that they both protect you if another driver causes an accident and his or her insurance policy is insufficient to pay for all of the damages he or she caused.

  • Uninsured Motorist Coverage will take care of damages if you are injured when a driver without any insurance is at fault. This type of coverage is pretty straightforward—if someone who does not have his own insurance negligently strikes you or your vehicle, your uninsured motorist coverage will allow you to recover compensation from your own insurance company. This situation occurs more often than you might think, for example when a collision is a “hit and run,” or if the vehicle involved was stolen, or if the owner allowed an existing insurance policy to lapse.
  • Underinsured Motorist Coverage can provide you with additional compensation in the case of an underinsured driver. This scenario is a bit trickier because it only comes into play when you have been in an accident with a driver who does have the auto insurance coverage required by law. However, almost every state has a minimum amount of liability coverage that one is required to have. Most drivers opt for this minimum amount, and when serious accidents occur, that minimum amount is not enough to cover all of your damages. When you opt to pay an additional amount for higher limits of Underinsured Motorist coverage, you may be able to seek additional compensation from your own insurance company under that coverage.

In brief, Uninsured Motorist coverage is used if there is no coverage on the other vehicle, and Underinsured Motorist coverage is used if your damages exceed the other vehicle’s policy limit and your Underinsured Motorist coverage limit is larger than the Bodily Injury limit held by the driver who injured you.

 

Don’t Give Up Your Right to Sue

Important Tip for New Jersey Drivers:

In New Jersey, there can be significant limits to your or your family’s right to sue for pain and suffering after a car accident. New Jersey’s basic insurance policy has a “limitation on lawsuit” threshold option. If you have chosen this option in order to save money or unknowingly due to a lack of information, then you may not be able to bring a claim for pain and suffering from a car accident unless you suffer a permanent or catastrophic injury. For example, if someone rear-ends your car and you fracture your leg or arm, you would not be able to sue unless the fracture is a severe one (i.e., displaced). Therefore, if you want to be able to protect your right to sue in all circumstances in New Jersey, you may want to pay the additional premium and opt for the full right to sue, and avoid selecting the limitation on lawsuit threshold.

Important Tips for Drivers in New York and Certain Other States:

Auto insurance carriers in New York and certain other states are unfortunately allowed to take advantage of you by selling higher limits of Bodily Injury protection than Underinsured/Uninsured motorist protection. If you are fooled into taking such a policy by your broker or carrier via the lure of some modest savings, you will foolishly be offering more protection to strangers whom you might injure than to yourself and your family members. Instead, you should insist on matching limits for your Bodily Injury and Underinsured/Uninsured Motorist coverage.

Important Tips for All Drivers:

The biggest difference between insurance policies is the amount of coverage they provide. You should ask for a policy with the highest Bodily Injury and (matching) Uninsured/Underinsured limits that you can afford. Also, if you have assets to protect, you should buy an additional policy that provides more coverage for your automobile and home called an excess or umbrella policy. An excess policy is a very affordable way to add a substantial amount of coverage to your initial, primary policy. And make sure to ask your broker or carrier to also include Excess Uninsured/Underinsured motorist coverage in your excess policy. Very few people are aware of that type of coverage but it is a crucial component of a policy that provides full protection.

Our firm is always available to offer you guidance in selecting your insurance coverage to ensure that you and your family are fully protected. In the unfortunate event that you are a victim of a serious crash, The Rothenberg Law firm, with over 50 years of experience, is here for you. Call us today at 1-800-624-8888 or visit us at InjuryLawyer.com.

 

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