The best way to protect yourself from the financial woes that result from an automobile accident is to purchase additional insurance. It is not enough to rely on the at-fault driver to carry enough insurance coverage to protect you and your family. State required minimums are often too low to fully cover the medical expenses incurred in a car accident. There are two insurance limits that you should increase to protect yourself.
First, increase your personal injury protection (PIP) or no-fault benefits. PIP benefits are available to pay:
- Medical bills, up to the amount of insurance purchased;
- Wages, with a maximum of $250.00 per week; and
- Household services, limited to $20.00 per day.
Wages and household services benefits are payable for one (1) continuous year. Medical bills can be paid for up to three (3) years following the accident. These benefits are paid regardless of who is at fault. This is a very good way to protect yourself from having to pay accident-related medical expenses out-of-pocket.
The standard insurance policy provides only $3,000.00 of PIP medical expenses. Thereafter, the victim of an accident has to pay his own medical expenses (or submit them to his health insurance carrier) until a settlement can be reached with the at-fault driver’s insurance company; this process can take months and sometimes even years. The amount of PIP medical coverage can be increased to $5,000.00, $10,000.00, $25,000.00, or $100,000.00, and the premium increase is very inexpensive. This is coverage to protect you from incurring medical expenses while you try to settle with the at-fault driver’s insurance company, we would recommend you look at increasing your PIP limit.
The second type of insurance that will protect you is uninsured and underinsured motorist coverage. The good news is, unless you’ve specifically signed a waiver, you already have it. However, it would be wise to increase this coverage. Uninsured motorist (UM) coverage protects you from a driver who is at fault but does not have insurance. While state law requires every driver to carry insurance, there are occasions where a driver violates the law and fails to carry insurance. Increasing your UM coverage will protect you from these thoughtless lawbreakers. Underinsured motorist (UIM) coverage protects you from a driver who has insurance but it is not enough to cover your losses. Because the state minimum is too low to cover most serious accident losses (medical bills, lost wages, pain and suffering, etc.) you should consider raising your limits and protecting yourself.
We recommend that you get with your insurance agent and make the changes to your auto policy as soon as possible.