Personal Injury Tips: Understanding your Insurance Policy
“I used to go away for weeks in a state of confusion.”
― Albert Einstein
After your car accident, it probably comes as no surprise that you need to understand what kind of benefits you have under your own policy. You might be thinking that because you didn’t cause the accident, your insurance doesn’t need to be involved at all. Well, that would not be accurate. In many states which are known as “no fault states,” it will still be your own car insurance that pays first for your medical bills. The current states with some form of “No Fault” insurance laws are the District of Colombia, Florida, Hawaii, Kansas, Kentucky, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, New Jersey, New York, North Dakota, Pennsylvania and Utah. Also, if the person who hit you has no insurance, or at the very least, inadequate insurance, you need to know if your own policy can pick up the slack.
What you need to do is request a copy of your Insurance Policy Declarations Page. This will spell out exactly what benefits you are entitled to with your car insurance. Your Insurance Policy Declarations Page receive will look something like this:
COVERAGE —————————LIMITS OF LIABILITY
Bodily Injury —————————$100,000/ $300,000 Per Person/ Accident
Property Damage———————–$50,000 Per Accident
Personal Injury Protection ————$10,000 Overall Maximum
Basic Medical Expenses—————–80% of Expenses
Basic Work Loss ————————-60% of Expenses
Uninsured Motorist Bodily Injury—–$100,000/ $300,000 Per Person/ Accident
You are probably looking at this and saying, “Great – this doesn’t help me at all.” Well, let me explain what each of these terms means before you come to any rash decisions.
Bodily Injury: This type of insurance does not protect you or your car directly. Bodily Injury comes into play if and when you cause an accident and you injure or kill someone while driving your car. Bodily Injury protection will also make sure your car insurance will provide a legal defense for you if another party files a lawsuit against you because of an accident you caused. So, let’s say you cause an accident and as a result, two other people are seriously injured. Based on the sample Insurance Policy Declarations Page above, your car insurance will pay each of those people a maximum of $100,000 for their injuries (and will provide a legal defense for you up to those amounts).
Property Damage: This type of insurance will pay to fix someone else’s property which you damaged as a result of an accident. For example, let’s say you hit another car and caused $20,000 worth of damage to the car and $10,000 worth of damage to a fence. Using the sample Insurance Policy Declarations Page above, your car insurance will pay for all of those damages (with $20,000 to spare). Property Damage coverage will also provide a legal defense if the other party files a lawsuit against you because of the damage you caused.
Personal Injury Protection: This type of coverage usually pays for the medical expenses of the injured driver and passengers in your car. If you are in a “No-Fault” state like Florida, it doesn’t matter who caused the accident. Either way, the Personal Injury Protection coverage will pay for your medical bills first (before your health insurance comes into play). Using the example above, Personal Injury Protection will pay up to a maximum of $10,000.
Basic Medical Expenses: In the sample Insurance Policy Declarations Page above, it says “80%.” What this means is that the Personal Injury Protection coverage will only pay 80% of the medical bills (up to a maximum of $10,000). So, if you have a medical bill for $100, the Personal Injury Protection coverage will pay $80 and you are responsible for the remaining $20.
Basic Work Loss: Basic Work Loss coverage reimburses you for the days you missed from work. In the sample Insurance Policy Declarations Page above, it says “60%.” What this means with Basic Work Loss Coverage is that if you miss work as a result of an accident, your insurance will reimburse you for the money you lost at 60%. So, if you make $100 a day at work, your insurance will give you $60 for each day you missed.
Medical Payment Coverage: This is also known as “Med Pay” or “MPC.” Medical Payment Coverage pays for your medical bills over and above what Personal Injury Protection pays. For example, if you have a $100 medical bill and your Personal Injury Protection paid 80% of it, the Med Pay coverage would pay the remaining $20.
Uninsured Motorist Bodily Injury: This is also known as “UM” Insurance. This pays for your injuries caused by an uninsured driver or an underinsured driver (and sometimes even a hit-and-run driver). Let’s say you get hit by a car which only has $10,000 worth of Bodily Injury coverage. However, your injuries are worth far more than $10,000. Your UM Insurance will pay your for your injuries over and above what the other insurance will pay you.
Comprehensive: This type of insurance coverage pays for losses resulting from incidents other than collision. For example, Comprehensive insurance would cover damage to your vehicle if it was stolen, stuck in a flood or caught in a fire.
Collision: This is the type of coverage which pays for your car repairs after you were in an accident.
If you find yourself in the unfortunate predicament of being hurt because of someone else’s actions, the best thing you can do is to call the Ticktin Law Group at (954) 570-6757 as soon as possible. By speaking with an experienced personal injury lawyer and going over all the facts of your particular claim, you will get a much better idea of what steps you should already be taking, what kind of insurance you have and what compensation you may be entitled to.