Do you know exactly what kind of car insurance you have an what your insurance is actually insuring? Do you have medical payment coverage to pay your medical bills if you are in an accident? Do you have uninsured motorist coverage. Do you know what basic liability coverage actually means, and what it actually insures?
Don’t be ashamed if you don’t know the answers to these questions. I’ve found that the vast majority of people have no idea what kind of auto insurance they actually have. Most people buy a car, go to their agent, and sign whatever is put in front of them. This is a disservice to yourself and your loved ones. Here is a basic rundown of what insurance coverages are available, and what they actually insure:
BASIC LIABILITY INSURANCE: Will pay money to someone else if you are at fault for an accident. The minimum amount of coverage in Montana is $25,000. So, if you hit someone else and cause more than $25,000 in damage, you will pay the difference out of your pocket. Its easier to do than you think, and carrying basic minimal limits is a huge mistake. Try to carry at least $50,000-100,000 in liability coverage, more if you can afford it. This insurance does not pay you anything if you are in a crash that is not your fault. It only pays money to the other guy if you are at fault. Thus, you need more than this to protect you and your loved ones.
UNINSURED/UNDERINSURED COVERAGE: Will cover you and anyone in your car if someone else is at fault for hitting you and they don’t have insurance. Statistics vary, but I’d say at least 1 in 4 cars on the road is uninsured. If an uninsured driver hits you and you don’t have this coverage you will likely not get any money, no matter how badly you are hurt. This coverage is a must. Get at least $100,000 worth of this coverage in case you are seriously hurt. Underinsured coverage steps in if you are badly hurt and the other driver only has basic liability coverage, or not enough money in their insurance policy to compensate you. This is money well spent.
MEDICAL PAYMENT COVERAGE: Will cover you and any passenger in your car if you are injured in a crash. This is regardless of fault, so even if it is your fault and you are injured, this is the only insurance, other than health insurance, that will pay medical bills for you. This is essential when someone else is at fault to pay your bills because their insurance will likely fight you on paying medical bills immediately, so they could go to collections. This coverage ensures the bills get paid. Depending on the company, this coverage also can cover you if you are injured while in someone else’s car that is in a crash. So, the coverage may move with you, and is invaluable. Get at least $50,000 for this one.
Other specialty coverages include windshield protection, tow protection, etc. etc. Go sit down with your agent with a copy of this post and see if they think you are adequately covered. You will probably even save some money!!
Marty is a former criminal prosecutor in the Cascade County Attorney’s Office and now uses that experience to defend those accused of crimes. A University of Montana School of Law graduate, Marty focuses his practice on personal injury and criminal defense and is a premier DUI defense attorney. He is also well versed in the insurance claims industry and has negotiated significant settlements with nearly every major insurance company.