WHAT TO LOOK FOR WHEN PURCHASING AUTO INSURANCE
By Heather M. Wrede
Personal Injury Paralegal
The Gasper Law Group
God forbid you get into a horrible accident and it is your fault or, even worse, if you cause serious injury to another person (or yourself). An injured person can file a lawsuit against the at fault driver and not only recover insurance money but also money damages well in excess of any insurance policy. Far too many people believe this could not possibly happen to them or is statistically improbable to waste much time thinking about. However, it only takes a split second for a driver to make an error that can impact the rest of the driver’s life, whether injured or causing injury.
In a law firm, we see too many of these cases where otherwise law-abiding citizens having a stable lifestyle before the accident, experience financial ruin and miserable health. So, think twice when deciding what insurance to purchase. It is no longer a joke that consulting with an attorney prior to signing an insurance policy is a good idea. Insurance companies try very hard to make insurance look simple, affordable and worth the cost.
In today’s world of insurance, however, most people have no idea what type of coverage they carry or what they actually need. There are several key things to consider when purchasing automobile insurance. The first is the amount of liability coverage you should carry. A person who has a significant amount of assets should not only have what is referred to as full coverage but should also consider carrying and umbrella policy. The umbrella policy will cover any damages that exceed that of your regular auto policy. These policies can vary in the amount of coverage and are usually inexpensive to have. If you chose to carry only minimal coverage on your auto insurance policy, you are exposing yourself to the possibly of a lifetime of pain an suffering (health-wise and financially). Saving a few bucks today can cost your countless thousands or hundreds of thousands in the future.
Another important consideration is the medical payment (Med Pay) coverage available under your policy. Most people carry the minimum ($5,000.00) or perhaps none at all. If you do not have adequate health insurance (or if you forgot to read the exclusions on your health insurance policy), and if you lack the independent financial wealth to cover exorbitant medical expenses out of pocket, carrying a sufficient level Med Pay coverage is not only a smart idea but it is essential. For example, a decent policy with sufficient Med Pay coverage should not only get you (or your victim) through the expense of the ambulance ride and ER visit but also those inevitable follow up medical bills. This small amount of money will cover many of the initial and follow up medical appointments you may have after an accident. A seemingly large $5,000 Med Pay coverage is quickly eaten up these days with rising medical costs.
It is crucial to consider the level of Underinsured/Uninsured Motorist (UIM/UM) coverage you have. Most people do not even know that they have this coverage or that they may have waived this coverage. UIM/UM coverage is intended to protect an insured in the event the insured driver is involved in an accident with someone that carries minimal or insufficient coverage or is driving around without any insurance.
Before you purchase insurance, it is a wise idea to review your policy carefully and seek review of the policy by an attorney familiar with insurance companies and post-accident coverage issues. Don’t be blindsided by a lack of coverage.