Happy New Year 2015 – It’s Time for an Insurance Coverage Review
By Dean I. Weitzman, Esq. on January 2nd, 2015
As 2015 begins, it’s a perfect time to think about the year just past and how your insurance coverage is protecting you – for your home, rental property, cars, trucks, motorcycles, boats, RVs and anything else that you insure against loss.
January is a handy time for such a review as we consider the changes that have occurred in our lives in the last year and look ahead to changes that could be happening in the New Year.
For drivers, that means making sure that your cars, trucks, vans, motorcycles and other vehicles have adequate insurance protections for you, your family and your other passengers in the event of a crash or other loss. Vehicle accidents happen every day, often injuring people who have done nothing to contribute to causing the accident which has ensnared their lives. Victims are injured when other cars crash into their vehicles or in a myriad of other tragic ways.
Yet learning after such an accident that one’s automobile insurance or the other driver’s insurance isn’t adequate to compensate them for a serious injury is one of the toughest things we have to discuss with our clients here at MyPhillyLawyer. It’s a relatively common scenario, and one that we’ve seen over and over again recently involving a spate of cases that have come into our doors.
Here’s how it works. There are several key categories of insurance coverage for vehicles, including liability, uninsured motorist, underinsured motorist coverages and medical expenses. If you only have $15,000 of state minimum uninsured motorist (UM) coverage, then that is the full amount that your insurance company would have to give to you under an uninsured motorist claim. And that is simply not enough coverage if your injuries are serious or catastrophic. In fact, this kind of scenario is exactly why every driver on the road in Pennsylvania and every other state really needs to do a careful review of their insurance coverage annually to be sure they are well-protected for potential injuries caused by others who are not adequately insured.
In addition, there is a minimum $15,000 liability coverage requirement in Pennsylvania that was set some 30 years ago and has not been changed since then, which is absurd. It’s a travesty of justice for working people who drive around thinking that they have adequate insurance coverage and then find out how wrong those assumptions can be when the unthinkable happens and they are injured by an uninsured or underinsured driver. When is our Legislature going to do something about this?
It was a whole different world 30 years ago when the $15,000 minimum coverage limit was established, and unbelievably, no provisions were ever created to increase that figure annually for inflation and for changing times.
Another coverage area where drivers often find they are underinsured is for medical expenses in the event of a crash. The minimum amount for coverage in Pennsylvania is $5,000, and that miniscule, inadequate amount is what most people carry to help keep their insurance premiums lower.
Uninsured Motorist coverage, and the related Underinsured Motorist (UIM) Coverage, are actually the most important types of coverage that you can have for your vehicle, even more so than collision coverage. Collision covers the vehicle physically, but better protecting you as the driver – and your passengers – should be viewed as a smarter investment of your policy dollars. Drivers should look at raising their collision coverage deductibles so that they can afford to pay for higher UM and UIM coverage which will better protect them against another driver’s irresponsibility.
Drivers can possibly even save money by increasing their collision deductible (and lowering their costs for collision coverage) while still obtaining increased UM and UIM coverage of $300,000 per incident.
Yes, by raising your vehicle’s collision deductible, you are taking a known risk on having to pay more if your car is damaged, but the significantly higher UM and UIM coverages will protect you if God forbid you are seriously injured in a crash by another driver.
Not having enough UM and UIM coverage is a giant risk to take. Your life, livelihood, your work and your family can all be affected in an instant if you are seriously injured and are without adequate UM and UIM coverage. In the blink of an eye a family can have a catastrophic loss and if you don’t protect yourself, nobody else is out there to protect you.
Insurance is something you likely spend a lot of money on, right up there with mortgages or rent, food and other essentials. Don’t listen blindly to your insurance agent for their recommendations for such coverage. I’ve seen client after client get bad advice from insurance agents which then leaves them with inadequate coverage that will haunt them later when a tragic accident occurs.
If you suffer a life changing injury and can’t return to work after a crash caused by another driver who has inadequate insurance, your life and future can hang in the balance. The only way you can be adequately and fairly compensated after such an event is to have the highest amount of UM and UIM that you can afford. That can be accomplished without spending more on your existing policy by increasing your vehicle collision deductible, as I mentioned earlier. If you are going to take a chance, take the chance on the property damage. That’s better than having the unknown risk of having life changing catastrophic injuries and not having the money to pay for care.
Homeowners and renters also need to review their insurance policies annually to be sure that the insurance they have is still adequate to cover the latest value of their home and of their belongings, which could have increased in the prior year. Additional purchases of expensive large-screen televisions, entertainment systems, computer and camera gear and other expensive electronic products means that your insurance limits might need to be increased. The same goes for quality jewelry and watches.
Insurance reviews can be done with your family’s insurance agent as part of an annual review of coverages, terms, policies and more. It’s a smart and important thing to do each year so that your family stays protected from losses.
And while you are at it, be sure to take some time as the New Year begins to create or update your personal will and other estate planning documents so that your family can carry out your last wishes if something should happen to you.
Injury cases, vehicle crashes and property losses of all kinds occur every day when innocent victims are hurt or killed through no fault of their own due to the actions or indifference of others, or due to hazardous weather or other disasters. That’s why it is critical to have a legal team on your side that uncovers every fact to bolster your case and maximize your damage award.
We here at MyPhillyLawyer stand ready to assist you with your legal case if you or a loved one is ever seriously injured in a vehicle crash anywhere in the United States. We represent the families of victims who die in such tragedies as well, to ensure that their families receive every penny of damages that they are eligible to receive.
Call MyPhillyLawyer at 215-227-2727 or toll-free at 1-866-920-0352 anytime and our experienced, compassionate, aggressive team of attorneys and support staff will be there for you and your family every step of the way as we manage your case through the legal system.
When Winning Matters Most, Call MyPhillyLawyer.