Don’t Cheat Yourself by Buying Cheap Automobile Insurance

Low-cost automobile insurance often means low protection.  Low-cost coverage can hurt.  It is best to put your money where it will help you the most.  Car crash injuries are where the “rubber meets the road” and many learn too late that they are under-insured.  Some of the coverages available with car insurance are more valuable than others.  Collision, towing and rental car coverage do not help people who are injured.  There are three auto insurance coverages where everyone should buy as much coverage as they can afford.

First, there is ‘First Party Benefits Medical’ coverage, which covers medical expenses for your own injuries in a car crash.  Too many people choose the minimum of $5,000 coverage.  First responders and emergency room charges can exceed $5,000, leaving you with no coverage to pay for follow-up care, such as MRI, CT scan, surgery, inpatient hospitalization and physical therapy.  If you do not have health insurance, you may be hounded by collection agencies,  unable to get vital care, or even go bankrupt.

Solution:  Ask your car insurance agent to tell you the cost of higher amounts of First Party Medical Benefits Coverage.  Learn the cost of different amounts.  Buy as much coverage as you can afford.

Second, there is ‘Full Tort’ vs. ‘Limited Tort’ coverage.  The difference is whether you retain (Full Tort), or give up (Limited Tort), the right to sue for full justice for car crash injuries.  When you choose Limited Tort, you pay a slightly reduced insurance premium.  In exchange, you give up the right to sue for injuries unless you are “seriously” injured.  With Limited Tort coverage, you could have broken bones, need surgery, miss weeks of work and have thousands of dollars in medical bills, and not be considered “seriously” injured under the law.  In that case, Limited Tort prohibits you from suing the other driver for quality of life damages, such as pain and suffering.

Solution:  Choose Full Tort coverage. 

Third, there is ‘Uninsured Motorist/Under Insured Motorist’ coverage.  These coverages protect you when the other driver has low, or no automobile insurance.  A driver with no liability insurance coverage is an Uninsured Motorist (UM).  A driver with some, but not enough, liability insurance coverage is an Under Insured Motorist (UIM).  These coverages are typically referred to by the shortcut UM/UIM.  If you are severely injured by a negligent driver, you demand that his or her insurance company pay you for your harms and losses.  If the negligent driver has little or no bodily injury liability insurance, you will not get justice for your losses unless you have purchased sufficient UM/UIM coverage.

How much UM/UIM coverage is sufficient?  It is impossible to put a value on our lives and our health.  Many of the drivers we encounter are insured with only the minimum bodily injury liability limit, which is just $15,000.  We can all agree that our and our loved ones’ lives and health are worth much more than that.

Solution:  Do not reject UM/UIM coverage in order to save a little money.  Ask your automobile insurance agent to show you options and costs for Uninsured Motorist and Under Insured Motorist coverage that will protect you and your loved ones.

Conclusion:  Avoid buying cut-rate car insurance.  If you buy minimum coverage, you are also buying minimum protection.  Choose a local agent with a local office where you can get face-to-face, personal service.  Discuss your options with your agent and purchase as much automobile insurance coverage as you can afford.

By Christopher J. Youngs, Esq.

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