Will My Car Insurance Provide Enough Coverage After an Accident?
March 11, 2021
As expensive as car insurance may seem, it does not always provide enough coverage for drivers who get into a car accident, even if the crash is not their fault. Motorists should carefully review their insurance policies to see if their coverage is adequate. Anyone who suffers a serious injury in a motor vehicle crash should contact a car accident lawyer as soon as possible to obtain professional assistance in negotiating full compensation from the insurance companies involved.
The language of an insurance policy can be very confusing. However, it is worth taking the time to find out whether a driver and their family are truly protected in the event of an accident. Drivers can start by reading the Declaration Sheet that itemizes the coverage provided by the policy. A Declaration Sheet lists the following items:
- The specific types of coverage. This may include liability, medical benefits or personal injury protection, collision, comprehensive, uninsured motorist and underinsured motorist.
- The amount of each type of coverage. Coverage is stated in terms of limits, such as $15,000/$30,000. The first number is the limit that one person can collect for injuries. The second number is the highest amount that the insurer will pay for an accident in which more than one person listed on the policy is hurt.
- The cost (premium) of coverage for each vehicle listed on the policy.
Understanding coverage options can help drivers feel confident that they are truly covered in case an accident happens. It is always a good idea to contact several insurance companies to get price quotes if it appears necessary to increase the amount of coverage, as each insurance company may have a different price for each type of coverage.
What Does Liability Coverage Provide?
Liability coverage protects policyholders from claims made by others who are injured in an accident that is the policyholder’s fault. Liability coverage comes in two forms:
- Bodily injury: This coverage typically starts at $15,000/$30,000, the Pennsylvania state minimum, and ranges up to $100,000/$300,000 or more.
- Property damage: This pays for repairs to someone else’s car or property that was damaged in an accident caused by anyone listed on the policy. Property damage limits typically range from $5,000 to $50,000.
What Do Medical Benefits Cover?
Pennsylvania requires drivers to obtain insurance coverage to pay for medical bills for anyone listed on the policy, regardless of who was at-fault for the accident. The minimum limit is $5,000 of coverage in Pennsylvania. These medical benefits are known as personal injury protection (PIP). In New Jersey, PIP may also cover lost wages, as well as medical bills and may be in excess of the $5,000 depending on the policy. In Pennsylvania and New Jersey, all policies must cover liability, damage, and medical expenses. Other types of coverages are optional.
What Types of Car Insurance Coverage are Optional?
The following types of coverage are optional on car insurance policies in Pennsylvania and New Jersey:
- Collision. This pays for damage to the policyholder’s car regardless of who was at-fault for the accident. Most companies will only pay up to car’s book value if the car is totaled. Drivers often forgo collision when their car is old and/or not worth very much.
- This pays for damage to a policyholder’s vehicle that is the result of something other than an accident, such as theft or fire.
- Uninsured motorist/underinsured motorist (UM/UIM). These options reimburse policyholders if they are hurt in an accident caused by a hit-and-run driver, a driver who has no insurance, or one whose coverage is not enough to pay for damages.
Over the years, Galfand Berger LLP has helped many clients who have been seriously hurt in motor vehicle crashes. Based on this experience, Galfand Berger LLP recommends that clients pay for the optional UM/UIM coverage.
Why Should I Pay for UM/UIM Coverage?
Drivers should pay for UM/UIM coverage because there are many instances in which careless drivers who are not fully insured cause accidents. UM/UIM coverage can pay for uncompensated medical expenses, lost wages, and pain and suffering. According to the Insurance Information Institute (III), about one in eight motorists on the road do not have car insurance. Many drivers carry only the minimum amount of coverage required by the state in which they live. In Pennsylvania, the state minimum of $15,000 is seldom enough to pay for surgery, hospitalization, medicine, and follow-up visits required to treat typical car accident injuries.
To avoid financial hardship that may result from getting into an accident caused by an uninsured or underinsured driver, Galfand Berger LLP recommends the following:
- Never sign a policy waiver that states Rejection of UM protection.
- Never sign a policy waiver that states Rejection of UIM protection.
- Purchase stacked UM/UIM coverage of $100,000/$300,000 or higher.
Drivers who own more than one vehicle should stack UM/UIM coverages when possible. Stacking allows policyholders to add all the coverages for different vehicles together to obtain a greater amount of coverage. UM/UIM are the only types of coverages that can be stacked.
Galfand Berger LLP has handled a number of cases in which innocent clients were injured in crashes caused by uninsured or underinsured drivers, including the following:
Drivers should always seek legal guidance if they are injured in a crash caused by an uninsured, underinsured driver, or hit-and-run driver.
Should I Select Full Tort or Limited Tort?
Tort is a legal term for a wrong or hurtful act committed against another person. On a car insurance policy, selecting Full Tort preserves one’s legal right to seek full compensation:
- Drivers should always select Full Tort.
- Drivers who choose Limited Tort give up their right to claim compensation for injuries if they are not deemed serious.
Pennsylvania statutes define an injury as serious as one that results in death, serious impairment of bodily function, or permanent serious impairment. However, accident victims must sometimes undergo treatment for painful conditions that may not meet the insurance company’s terms.
Philadelphia Car Accident Lawyers at Galfand Berger LLP Help Clients Protect Their Legal Rights in the Event of a Motor Vehicle Crash
The language in an insurance policy can be difficult to understand, but the Philadelphia car accident lawyers at Galfand Berger LLP can help. We investigate accidents promptly and preserve evidence to ensure than no stone is left unturned. To schedule a free consultation, call us today at 800-222-8792 or contact us online. From our offices in Philadelphia, Bethlehem, Lancaster, and Reading, Pennsylvania, we proudly serve clients throughout Pennsylvania and New Jersey, including Allentown and Harrisburg.