Charles E. Boyk Law Offices, LLC
If you are like most people who have purchased car insurance, you think you have “full coverage” and will be completely taken care of if you are involved in an accident. Take it from the experienced Ohio auto accident attorneys at the Charles Boyk Law Offices however, chances are that you are not fully covered!
Most people have the more common types of car insurance: liability, collision, and comprehensive. While these are important types of car insurance to have, they are not the only kinds that a person needs in order to be adequately protected. Let’s discuss the different types of car insurance one at a time so that you will know what your agent is talking about when it comes time for you to buy your policy.
Imagine that you are driving along, you take your eyes off the road for a second, the person in front of you brakes, and you collide with the rear of the person’s car. The driver of the car suffers whiplash and sues you for the cost of their medical bills. This is the type of situation where your liability insurance kicks in. Liability insurance covers other people’s bodily injuries or death for which you are responsible. Liability insurance also provides you with a legal defense if the other party to the crash files a lawsuit against you. Claims for bodily injury may be for things such as medical bills, loss of income, or pain and suffering. If you get in a serious accident, you obviously want enough insurance to cover a judgment against you in a lawsuit so that you don’t have to dip into your personal assets, or worse – have to declare bankruptcy.
It is important to realize that bodily injury liability covers injury to people, but does not cover damage to your vehicle. Also, keep in mind that bodily injury liability doesn’t cover you or other people on your policy!
Liability limits come in two forms: combined single limits and split limits:
Bodily injury liability coverage is usually split into a maximum payment per person and a maximum payment per accident and is written in this way: “bodily injury per person”/“bodily injury per accident”/“property damage.”
EXAMPLE: Let’s say a driver has $15,000 of coverage for injury/death to another person, $30,000 for injury/death to more than one person, and $7,500 for property damage ($15,000/$30,000/$7,500). If that driver hits a car full of people and is found to be at fault, the insurance company will pay $15,000 of one person’s medical bills, but will not exceed $30,000 for the other people injured in the accident. The insurance company will not pay more than $7,500 for property damage to repair the vehicle that the at-fault driver hit.
Imagine again that you are driving along, you take your eyes off the road for a second, the person in front of you brakes, and you collide with the rear of the person’s car. The front of your car is completely smashed in and will cost over $1,000 to fix. This is the type of situation where your collision coverage kicks in. Collision coverage provides insurance coverage for your car if you’re involved in an accident. It is designed to cover repairs to the damaged vehicle or to give you the cash value of your car if it is considered totaled (i.e. the cost to repair is greater than the value of the car). Collision coverage is subject to a deductable that you will have to pay out of pocket. The higher your deductable, the lower your premiums will be. You may want to consider dropping this coverage if your car is older since this coverage is normally limited to the cash value of your car.
Imagine that you are shopping at the mall and you come out to your car only to discover that thieves looking for money have smashed the driver’s side window in. This is the type of situation where your comprehensive coverage kicks in. Comprehensive coverage covers damage to your vehicle that does not result from a collision. For example, comprehensive coverage would protect you in the event of a fire, theft, vandalism, weather damage, or impact with an animal. Comprehensive coverage is subject to a deductable that you will have to pay out of pocket. To keep your premiums down, you can choose a larger deductible, but keep in mind that you will pay more out of pocket if you have to make a claim.
Understanding and knowing the types and limits of your car insurance and what they mean is vital to making sure you are protected in the event of an accident. For assistance navigating the complex car insurance buying and claims process, contact a knowledgeable Ohio injury lawyer today!