The 1ST NUMBER: This coverage protects you (if YOU cause an accident). At a minimum you should try to carry $100k. The average surgery (shoulder, neck or back) will cost approximately $50,000-$75,000. If you are sued because of your negligence; your insurance company will only write a check for the amount of your coverage. If the other driver receives $150,000.00; (and you are carrying $100k in coverage), you will be responsible for the additional $50k.
Property Damage: 50
The SECOND number is your liability property damage coverage (if YOU cause the accident). So, as long as you don't hit a new Mercedes, $50,000 in property damage coverage is sufficient. Again, if you cause property damage in excess of this amount; the insurance company is not responsible (YOU ARE).
Total amount of coverage: 300
The $100k coverage applies to each person in the other vehicle you hit (up to a total - not to exceed $300,000.) This is the worst case scenario where you hit a church van and there are 15 passengers. If there are 10 people hurt, the insurance company will only pay out $300k. Any amounts after the $300k is YOUR responsibility. Which is why I strongly suggest an UMBRELLA POLICY. These policies typically provide an additional $1M of coverage. They are quite inexpensive (approx. $30/month), and your insurance company likely offers them.
Medical Payment Coverage - What Is It?
This coverage will pay your bills and any passenger's bills (that are in your vehicle) that arise out of a collision. It is commonly called "no fault coverage." It doesn't matter who caused the accident, your Medical Payment coverage will pay any medical expenses related to the collision.
This coverage is required in some states (they call it Personal Injury Protection or PIP coverage). HOWEVER, many states do not require it, and your insurance company doesn't like to tell you about it. It is the most inexpensive coverage you will pay for as a part of your policy. I suggest carrying a minimum of $10k. If you have a young driver (or very old driver), you should up this coverage to at least $25k.
The effect of having this coverage, is more money goes back into your pocket if you are injured as a result of another driver's negligence. I cannot stress this coverage enough! Please change your policy today if you don't have this coverage.
Uninsured Or Under-insured Coverage
Most states require this coverage as a part of a car insurance policy. HOWEVER, the great state of Georgia does not require it!! So, YOU MUST ASK FOR IT. This covers you if the other driver is UN-insured or UNDER-insured. If you need back surgery after an accident and the other driver has a minimum policy (in Georgia it is $25k), then the most you can recover from his insurance company is $25k!
Therefore, you should carry a minimum of $100,000 of uninsured/underinsured coverage. This amount would give you an additional $75,000 of potential recovery if your injuries/bills warrant it. Again, this is very cheap coverage and should be added to any policy. Also, your umbrella policy (if you choose to buy one) would provide additional coverage if you are seriously injured by another driver.
No matter where you live, if you are injured in an automobile accident, remember that insurance companies survive on collecting our premium payments (not paying out claims). Therefore, please call an attorney if you have any questions about the process. I don't know a single (quality) attorney who would charge for a phone consultation. If you could get a doctor on the phone and ask questions for FREE you would do it, right?? Then why not an attorney?
2 major factors should be considered when buying your insurance. Premium price is the first (and obvious factor), but a close second should be how the insurance company ranks for customer satisfaction. In some cases you may have to file a claim against your own insurance company, and unfortunately that is when you find out just how little they care about your well being.
Additional resources provided by the author
You can find rankings of insurance companies on-line. Be sure to consider who participated in the rankings. The best resource for shopping for insurance is insure.com.
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