Auto Insurance Advice From a Personal Injury Attorney
One of the most common things I notice in the auto accident casesI handle is that most people do not understand their auto insurance policy. This isn’t their fault, though. The car insurance companies do a terrible job of explaining the type of coverage that people need and why they need it. As a Kirkland personal injury lawyer, I have been fighting auto insurance companies for over a decade, and have learned a great deal about the kinds of insurance people should have, and the amount of each kind to best protect themselves. The three types of auto insurance that everyone should have are: mandatory basic coverage, Personal Injury Protection (PIP), and Uninsured/Under-insured coverage.
- Mandatory Basic Coverage: The minimum coverage that everyone is required to have in the state of Washington is $25,000.This is usually seen as “25/50” in your auto insurance policy. This means that if you causean accident, your insurance will cover any one person in the crash for up to $25,000, and up to $50,000for the accident in total. Keep in mind, though, that this level is just the minimum. Having dealt with car accident casesmy entire professional life, I can assure you that the vast majority of claims I handle call for a lot more money than this to cover the damages.Due to the rising costs of medical care, it is very important to purchase the highest level of insurance that you can afford. Some other common insurance levels are “50/100,” “100/300,” “300/500,” all the way up to $1,000,000in coverage. The most important determining factor in the amount of insurance you purchase is that it covers your assets. This way, if you causean auto accident, the opposing side will not be able to go after your personal belongings. This insurance, however is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to protecting yourself.
- Personal Injury Protection: Another critical type of insurance to have is “Personal Injury Protection,” also known as PIP. This type of insurance covers your medical bills for any accident, regardless of who is at fault. Also covered by PIP are lost wagesand benefits. In other words, if you causean accident and are injured as a result, you can get treatment without fear of having to take money out of your pocket. Typically, PIP coverage is set at $10,000,but can go all the way up to $50,000. If you can afford $50,000,I strongly suggest you purchase that level of PIP. In Washington, insurance companies must offer Personal Injury Protection, but they do not always make it clear as to why you should have it. Even though it is optional, this is coverage that you should absolutely have.
- Underinsured/Un-insured Motorist Coverage: The last piece of auto insurance coverage that you should have is “uninsured/under-insured motorist coverage.” Also known as UM/UIM coverage, this type of insurance is almost always offered as a package. The “UM” part of the coverage kicks in when you are hit in an auto accident by someone without car insurance. The “UIM” part protects you when you are in an accident with someone whose insurance levels are not enough to cover your damages.As the economy continues to struggle, this type of insurance has become even more important. Lessand less people are purchasing auto insurance that can realistically cover damagesof a serious accident, so it is crucial to your well-being to have this insurance. It is also important to note that getting more coverage does not mean that you will be paying much more to have it. The more coverage you get, the better the deal is for you.
Jason Epstein is a partner at the Seattle and Bellevue personal injury law firm Premier Law Group. As a Bellevue injury lawyer, Seattle auto accident attorney and Bellevue car crash lawyer, Jason has fought insurance companies for over 10 years. You can also get his books on Washington auto accidents for free by clicking on the preceding link.
Published on May 1, 2011
One of the most common things I notice in the auto accident cases I handle is that most people do not understand their auto insurance policy...