We all buy car insurance but we often don’t know what we’re buying. This will help you understand the different types of coverage.
1. Liability insurance protects you when you cause an accident that injuries someone else or their property. (It also protects a person who borrows your car with your permission, and then causes an accident.) The minimum liability insurance required in Connecticut is $25,000 per person and $50,000 per accident for bodily injury liability and $25,000 per accident for property damage. However it’s wise to have higher coverage limits to better protect you and your assets. It’s a good idea to speak with a knowledgeable insurance agent and your lawyer when purchasing car insurance.
2. Uninsured / underinsured (known as “UM” or “UIM” coverage) motorist coverage covers bodily injury to you, and your passengers in the event that you are injured in an accident caused by an uninsured (or underinsured) motorist. An uninsured motorist is someone who flees the scene and can’t be found, or who didn’t have any car insurance at the time of the accident. An underinsured motorist is someone who didn’t have enough insurance to pay for the damages and losses they caused you. In these situations you look to your own insurance company as if they insured the hit-and-run driver, or the underinsured driver. The amount of your UM / UIM coverage equals the amount of your liability coverage, (above), so it’s smart to have higher limits on your liability coverage, which will define the amount of your UM/UIM limits, (provided you don’t opt for less, which is not a good idea).
3. Underinsured motorist CONVERSION coverage. This is optional coverage where the amount of the UM/UIM benefit available to you is not reduced by payments from another source, like the at-fault party’s liability coverage. In effect your “conversion” coverage is stacked on top of the at-fault party’s liability insurance, as to what is available to you. (Without conversion coverage, the amount of your UM/UIM is reduced by the at-fault party’s liability coverage.) So conversion coverage may afford you additional coverage that a standard UM/UIM policy would not.
4. Medical payments coverage, or “MED PAY.” This is optional coverage that everyone should have. If you or your passenger(s) are injured in an accident – regardless of fault – MED PAY coverage will PAY THE MEDICAL BILLS up to your MEP PAY policy limit. So if your MED PAY policy is $5,000.00, it will pay the medical bills for you and each of your passengers up to $5,000.00, each. Further, there are NO CO-PAYS and NO DEDUCTIBLES. It is also very reasonably priced insurance. For these reasons it is highly recommended that you look into purchasing “MED PAY” on your car insurance in as high an amount as you can afford. (Some companies offer MED PAY of $10,000.00, $25,000.00 and even $100,000.00 at very reasonable premiums.) So even if you have health insurance, it’s smart to have “MED PAY” on your car insurance to better protect you and your passengers in the event of a car accident.
5. Collision coverage pays for damage to your car caused in an accident. There is usually a “deductible” that you are responsible for. It’s a good idea to look into having a higher deductible, and a lower premium. It may work for you and save you some money.
6. Comprehensive coverage is for damage to your car other than that caused by a collision. For example, vandalism, weather-related damage or glass breakage. As with other coverage, you should consider the cost of the coverage, (i.e., the “premium”), VS. the amount of the deductible.
7. Other coverage. There is also car rental coverage and towing coverage that you should look into.
There are many questions that people have when it comes to buying car insurance. Everyone’s situation is different. There’s no ‘one size fits all.’
If you have any questions about car insurance feel free to call me – a lawyer experienced in the field and familiar with the issues presented. There is no charge and I am glad to help you.