Choosing the Right Auto Policy
Getting advice from an emu or gecko?
We’ve all seen the ads: an emu in sunglasses or gecko with an Australian accent suggesting that, when it comes to auto insurance, we should only pay for what we need.
But how do we know what we need?
The attorneys at Weiner, Spivey & Miller, PLC have over 190 years of experience in battling insurance companies on behalf of folks who have been injured due to someone else’s negligence. We have seen the devastating effects of insufficient insurance coverage when someone has been catastrophically injured in an accident through no fault of their own. Here’s our straightforward explanation about why we need better insurance coverage than most of us to have.
Q: Why Have Insurance Coverage on Our Cars and Other Vehicles?
A: Beyond the fact that it’s required by law in most jurisdictions in the US, most of us believe that we have motor vehicle insurance to pay for any damage we cause to others in an accident. That’s true. We have insurance to protect others if we cause an accident. However, an often-overlooked reason for insurance is to protect ourselves and our loved ones if someone with little or no coverage injures us in an accident.
Weiner, Spivey & Miller, PLC urges every vehicle owner to check (and raise) the amount of uninsured/underinsured motorist (UM/UIM) coverage on their own insurance policy. It is not expensive! Ultimately, having this coverage will ensure that adequate resources are available if someone with little or no coverage injures you in an accident.
Q: How does UM/UIM Coverage Work?
A: If a driver, who has minimal or no auto insurance coverage, injures you, but you have adequate UM/UIM coverage, then your insurance company will pay for your expenses not covered by the other driver’s policy. UM/UIM coverage will also protect you if you are the victim of a hit-and-run and the driver is never caught.
Q: UM/UIM Coverage Is Included Automatically in My Auto Insurance Policy, Right?
A: No. Uninsured and underinsured coverages are required by law in about 1/3 of U.S. states, including Virginia. In those states where UM and UIM are not required, you have to request coverage. Here’s the problem: Most people don’t know to ask or they think it will be too expensive (which it isn’t). This can have devastating consequences if they are injured by someone who is uninsured or underinsured.
Q: I Have Good Health Insurance Coverage. Why Do I Need UM/UIM Coverage, too?
A: Even if you have health insurance, you still need UM/UIM coverage. Health insurance will only pay for your medical bills (and it may not pay all of them due to deductibles, co-pays, out-of-network bills, or bills deemed by them to be unnecessary). Health insurance will also not pay for lost income, pain and suffering, mental anguish, inconvenience, permanent impairment, or other incidental damages. If you lose your health insurance, future medical expenses will not be covered. UM/UIM coverage can provide coverage for all of your losses.
Here are the steps we recommend to our clients, family, and friends to ensure that the right coverage is in place to protect them and their families:
- Raise the amount of Liability coverage on your current auto insurance policy to the maximum that the insurance company will sell you. We recommend $1,000,000 in coverage. (Note: Your insurance company may tell you, “This amount of coverage will need to go through Underwriting!” That sounds ominous, but usually just takes 24 hours. Don’t let this put you off. Remember, your responsibility is to protect yourself and your loved ones – – not insurance company profits.)
- Confirm that there are both UM (uninsured) and UIM (underinsured) “endorsements” on your auto policy. If not, add them.
- Set your UM/UIM coverage to be the same as your Liability coverage. So, if you have $1,000,000 in Liability coverage, get $1,000,000 in UM/UIM coverage.
- Don’t be fooled into thinking that your “umbrella” policy will provide UM/UIM coverage. Umbrella policies only cover injuries that you cause others — not the injuries that others (who may have no or minimal insurance) cause you.
Here’s the bottom line: Increasing your insurance policy limits to $1,000,000 and having an equal amount of UM/UIM coverage costs little and is critical to protecting you and your loved ones. That’s advice from attorneys with years of experience—not advice from emus or geckos.
We Can Help.
Weiner, Spivey & Miller, PLC has served Virginia, Maryland, and Washington D.C. for over 20 years. Our personal injury, wrongful death, and medical malpractice legal team advocates for those who have been injured or killed due to the negligence of others.