That is a GREAT question and I am happy to hear that you are going to increase your protection with extra insurance coverage. Let me give you some tips that I have learned after practicing law for 30 years now! First of all, make sure you have "comprehensive coverage" for your property damage. This makes sure that your own vehicle will be repaired or replaced if you are hit by an uninsured driver. Make sure you carry enough property damage insurance since the cars on the street today are much costlier than 20 years ago. I think everyone should have a minimum of $50,000, probably $75,000 is better, in case you cause a total loss to someone else and they own a Lexus or Mercedes.
Next, make sure you have enough Bodily Injury Liability coverage to pay for someone else's injuries if you cause a collision. Minimum should be $250,000 and an umbrella that raises coverage to at least one million dollars. This does not cost much more- when raising coverage limits from Texas minimum of $30,000 to let's say $250,000, won't cost you more than a hundred or two hundred dollars a year if you have a good driving record and aren't in a high-risk group.
Then, obtain UNDERINSURED/UNINSURED MOTORIST (UIM) coverage that matches the amount you carry in liability coverage. This UIM coverage protects you and your occupants in case you are hit by an uninsured driver or a driver who does not carry enough insurance to pay for your bodily injuries.
Finally, in Texas you can obtain $10,000 in PERSONAL INJURY PROTECTION ("PIP") that will pay up to $10,000 in medical bills or 80% of your lost wages and even if you obtain a recovery for lost wages and medical bills from the defendant, you do not have to reimburse your insurance carrier for this $10,000. PIP is great coverage that can pay medical bills and get you lost wages while you are waiting to settle with the defendant's insurance company.
I hope this helps! Good luck. Kevin
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Uninsured motorist insurance is a great coverage and I highly suggest you add it to your auto policy as soon as possible. Generally speaking, underinsured/uninsured motorist coverage will apply any time the responsible party either does not have sufficient insurance to cover your damage or does not have any insurance at all. Think of it like this: when you are in a wreck and it is not your fault, if the other driver cannot fully compensate you, then your uninsured motorist insurance steps in and pays what the responsible party would be liable to pay. In Texas, you must prove your case against the responsible party in order for your uninsured motorist insurance to be liable to pay you. In other words, uninsured motorist coverage will not cover the incident if it is your fault. There are a complex series of exclusions in your UIM policy that insurance companies are becoming more aggressive at asserting. These include the government vehicle and self-insurer exclusions, which may be implicated if the responsible party is driving a vehicle owned by a governmental entity or an entity that is "self insured." Overall, the benefits of having uninsured motorist coverage outweigh the new push by insurance companies to exclude more and more claims under these UIM exclusions.
You will have the option to purchase coverage amounts for both bodily injury and property damage. Typically, you will have the same underinsured/uninsured limits as your liability coverage. I would recommend a minimum of $50,000 for bodily injury and $50,000 for property damage. If you can afford it, I would discuss with your insurer increasing the bodily injury limits to $250,000 and purchasing an umbrella policy as well.
I would also strongly encourage you to add PIP (Personal Injury Protection) to your policy in addition to UIM. This will allow you to be reimbursed for your medical bills and other related expenses well before you are able to resolve any claim against someone else that have been responsible for your injuries.
Very good answer by Mr Madison. I would only add that your insurance company will not let you purchase uninsured/underinsured coverage greater than your own liability limits. Therefore you must increase both and "match" them as described by Mr Madison. I agree that increasing your insurance policy limits is the best bang for your insurance buck. Insurance companies rarely tell you how cheap it is to increase your limits. Always carry as much uninsured/underinsured coverage possible. You are only exercising your rights to protect yourself from dangerous drivers that carry little or no insurance and have no assets.
This answer is intended to provide general information only and not specific legal advice.
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