Do You Have the Auto Insurance Coverage you Need?
Many people purchase auto insurance online. This is easy and convenient, but often people do not purchase the insurance they need. Insurance agents are very knowledgeable and are often great at saving people money. Nearly everyone should consult with an insurance agent before purchasing auto insurance. However, it is crucial to understand the importance of purchasing the correct coverage before speaking with an agent. When you know how auto insurance works, you will buy the insurance you need. As experienced personal injury attorneys at Rep Law, we know having the correct coverage is vital once you are in an auto accident. For these reasons, we have provided a breakdown of what auto insurance you should purchase in Arizona to protect yourself and others.
Having Enough Auto Insurance to Protect your Personal Assets
Arizona law requires every driver to have auto insurance. The minimum amount of insurance a person must have is $10,000 of property damage coverage (this covers another person’s vehicle damage if you cause a collision) and $15,000/$30,000 of bodily injury coverage (this covers the other person’s injuries and medical expenses if you cause a collision). The first number ($15,000) is the most one person can collect from your insurance, the second ($30,000) is the most your insurance will pay, regardless of how many people are injured in a single incident. These amounts are soon changing, but for now, this is the minimum coverage required in Arizona.
Many drivers only have minimum coverage. The low cost of this coverage is appealing. However, in most cases, it is not adequate to cover a person’s losses after a collision.
If you have minimum coverage and you cause a collision that creates more than $10,000 of property damage or $15,000 of injuries, then the injured person can hold you personally responsible for the excess. If you hit another car and the driver takes an ambulance to the hospital and is admitted, those bills will likely exceed $15,000. If you only have $15,000 of coverage, the injured person can sue you personally so you have to pay anything owed beyond that amount.
That is why the more money and assets you have, the more auto insurance you need. If you own a house, cars, and have liquid assets, you need auto insurance coverage that will protect those assets. To avoid personal liability, be sure you buy enough coverage to protect not only others but your own wealth. For many people, the least amount of insurance to purchase is $50,000 of property damage coverage and $100,000/$300,000 of bodily injury coverage. However, everyone’s situation is different so confer with an insurance agent to ensure you have enough liability coverage to protect your assets.
Controlling what you can Control
If you are reading this article, you are likely the type of person who will purchase adequate coverage to protect your assets. However, you cannot control what insurance other drivers purchase.
I have many cases where someone seriously injures my client in a car accident, but the at-fault driver has no auto insurance or a minimum policy. It is easy to see how quickly a person can exhaust a minimum policy with the current cost of health care. The last thing anyone wants is to be in an accident with someone who has inadequate insurance.
That is why EVERYONE should purchase Uninsured Motorist protection and Underinsured Motorist protection coverage. First, Uninsured Motorist protection (UM) protects you in case someone causes a collision and does not have insurance. If you have UM coverage, your own auto insurance will cover your losses. If you do not have UM coverage and the other driver does not have insurance, in almost every instance, you will be left with nothing but medical bills.
Second, Underinsured Motorist protection (UIM) can be just as vital as UM coverage. UIM covers your losses if the person who causes a collision is underinsured. For example, if you are admitted to the hospital after a collision, your medical bills will likely exceed $15,000. If the at-fault person only has a minimum policy, that amount will likely be all you can recover. If you have UIM coverage, your own auto insurance makes up the difference and pays whatever the other person’s insurance does not cover.
There are many drivers in Arizona with no insurance or minimum coverage, and most of these people have very few assets. That is why having UM and UIM coverage is imperative.
The Overlooked Coverage
Medical Payments coverage (Medpay) can be a claim saver! It covers any medical expenses you incur from an accident. The great thing about this coverage is that it is often payable even if you have health insurance or if the other driver’s insurance pays for your medical bills. That is right, under many policies, Medpay allows you to double-dip. You can recover from Medpay and another source for the same medical bills, which puts more money in your pocket.
One thing to note, $5,000 of Medpay coverage is often all you need. Anything you recover from Medpay over $5,000 will have to be paid back to your auto insurance company if you also recover from another source. $5,000 may not seem like a lot, but it can make a huge difference, especially on smaller claims. Medpay is affordable; the changes to your premium are often minor.
Gap insurance is another coverage that is often overlooked. If you take out a large loan on a vehicle, buy Gap coverage! If your vehicle is totaled in an accident and it is worth less than what you owe, then you have to continue to make payments on a vehicle you can no longer drive. With Gap coverage, the insurance company pays the difference between what you still owe on the vehicle and what you receive from the total loss. Again, if you have a large loan or think you may be upside down on your vehicle, buy Gap coverage! It can save you thousands of dollars if you are in a collision.
Many different coverages may suit your needs, if you are wealthy, ask an agent about an umbrella policy. If you are scraping by you should adjust your coverage so you can still afford UM and UIM coverage. Do you drive for a rideshare company? Call your agent today to be sure your insurance covers you while you work. As a personal injury attorney, the most difficult conversations we have with clients is telling them there is not enough insurance to cover their losses.
You cannot control what insurance others purchase, but you can control how you protect yourself. Fortunately, there are great coverages available that will protect you regardless of who causes the collision. Again, insurance agents are great, but knowing what you are buying will ensure you purchase coverage that will protect yourself and others.