After any type of auto accident, you will likely have to deal with auto insurance companies. Often you have to deal with your insurance carrier, the other party’s insurance, and sometimes two or more other insurance companies depending on the number of people involved and affected by the accident. You should not wait until you have an accident to determine exactly how your insurance works and what your deductibles are. The following information is designed to give you an overview of auto insurance and how it can work for you.
Making Sure You've Got the Right Insurance
When it is working properly, insurance can be invaluable to help you through a traffic accident. The insurance company has the resources and ability to pay for damages and loss that most people could not afford. It allows you to travel knowing that you have some amount of coverage to help you in case of the unexpected disaster. But, insurance is a business, and most of the time, they operate with the intention of keeping costs and expenses lowered. This means that they will often deny a claim or try to pay it less than it is worth to lower the amount they are paying out on your coverage.
The best way to combat this problem is to be well informed on how your policy works, what should be covered, and how the coverage works. This starts with knowing what the different types of coverage are and how they operate. When you are putting together the insurance package that meets your needs, you may want to look into different companies and compare not just their rates and coverage, but also customer satisfaction surveys and look at how they respond to claims and requests. While you will hopefully never need to use it, taking the time to find the right policy and insurance company can be a valuable investment of your time.
How Insurance Works
So what do all these terms in your insurance contract mean and how do they help you? Let’s examine these different policy types and see which ones are most important to you. Remember that all of these definitions are generalizations; you will need to check with your insurance provider to ensure that your policy covers you in the manner described below.
Medical Payments / PIP -- PIP stands for Personal Injury Protection. This coverage helps pay for your medical bills for injuries resulting from a traffic accident. Usually this coverage will pay toward your medical costs regardless as to whether the accident was your fault or not. If you have adequate medical insurance coverage, you may decide that you do not need to carry this type of coverage. You will need to check with your state before removing or declining this coverage because some states require you to carry PIP insurance.
Property Damage -- This coverage is designed to pay for the damage your vehicle causes to someone else’s property. This is usually used to pay for the damage done to the other driver’s vehicle, but it can also cover other types of property, such as houses, boats, personal property, etc., as long as the damage comes from an accident involving your car. This type of insurance may also provide you with legal representation if another party files a lawsuit against you.
Bodily Injury -- Sometimes listed as “BI” in your insurance information, this is one of the most important parts of your insurance coverage. This coverage works similar to Property Damage except that it pays for the other party’s medical bills and costs resulting from the accident instead of for the property.
Collision Coverage -- This is similar to Property Damage except that it covers damage done due to collision with another vehicle or object. However, the difference is this coverage covers the damage done to your vehicle, not to the other vehicle/property.
Un-insured / Under-insured Policies -- Sometimes called “UM” these types of coverage are important in states where there is little or no insurance requirement for drivers. As we will discuss below, many times after an accident, your medical bills and damage will exceed the limits of your policy, usually the other driver’s Property Damage and or Bodily Injury coverage will kick in to cover the difference. UM coverage will assist you if the other driver does not have insurance or that insurance is insufficient to assist you. You will need to check with your state before adding or declining this coverage because Un-insured / Under-insured policies are not offered in many states.
Comprehensive Coverage -- This is an additional coverage that covers damage to your car not caused by traffic accidents. This coverage is useful if you are in an area that is prone to flooding, vandalism, earthquakes, or other disasters. This type of coverage may also handle things that your other coverage might not, i.e. hitting a deer in the road. It is definitely a good idea to discuss this coverage with your insurance agent or review your policy to see what is or is not covered.
Rental Reimbursement -- While not really insurance coverage for you vehicle, it could be an important option. This typically covers the cost of a rental car if your vehicle is incapacitated due to a traffic accident.
Know Your Coverage Limits
The policy limits and deduction amounts of your insurance coverage are usually a negotiable amount. It is important to fully understand how much your policy will pay and after what contribution from you. Due to the catastrophic nature of accidents involving tractor trailers, you may come up against the limits of your policy. This is another reason why it is important to have an attorney on your side. An attorney can try to ascertain the insurance carrier and policy limits of the insurance company for the truck driver and/or owner.
How to Get More Effective Assistance From Your Insurance Company
If you find yourself in need of coverage from your insurance policy, sometimes it will take diligence and patience to deal with the operators of the insurance company when they do not want to pay out properly for your claim. In this regard, records and documentation can be your best friend and ally. Make sure that you write down the name and office location of everyone you speak with at the insurance agency and any agencies they refer you to (i.e. body shops or mechanics). Be prepared with all medical and or financial records pertaining to your claim. You may need to do some research into typical costs for the repair of a certain part of your engine, a certain medical procedure, etc. However, going the extra mile and having all of this documentation can go a long way in assisting you to get the coverage and help you need to resolve any lingering issues.
Read the next article: Legal Issues Related to a Tractor-Trailer Accident