HOUSTON, October 27, 2016 – Purchasing car insurance is certainly not a sexy topic, but without the appropriate coverage, a motor vehicle accident that results in personal injury could result in a devastating economic loss for the responsible party. However, if one follows these three suggestions, the likelihood of such a loss is hugely reduced.
Basically, there are two ways in which a motor vehicle accident could result in significant economic damages to the responsible party: a bodily injury to oneself or a bodily injury to another individual, either a passenger in one’s own vehicle, or an individual in a vehicle with which the responsible party proximately caused an impact. In either of these situations, if one is not protected by simply purchasing the correct kind of car insurance, one’s life could be severely economically damaged.
If one follows these suggestions, he or she will be much more likely to protect one’s assets in the event of a car crash lawsuit and excess verdict and/or in the event of injury to those listed on one’s policy by an uninsured or underinsured driver.
- Never purchase minimal bodily injury limits if you have any unprotected assets;
In regard to protecting one’s assets, the most important part of a car insurance policy is the “B.I.” or “bodily injury” limit. This limit simply refers to the amount of money the car insurance company will pay to individuals who are injured in a motor vehicle accident that the insured is liable for. Many people simply purchase the minimal B.I. policy limit that is required in the state in which that individual resides. If, however, the insured is liable for an accident in which a Plaintiff has accumulated economic damages (like medical expenses and lost wages) and non-economic damages (like mental anguish, disfigurement, etc) that greatly exceed the bodily injury policy limit, the insured is at great risk of a verdict at trial that would greatly exceed these limits.
If a verdict exceeding one’s limits is reached by the jury, the Plaintiff can often elect to place a lien on one’s non-exempt assets (essentially everything but one house, one car and tools used for one’s business) and eventually sell these assets in order to fulfill the rest of the verdict that was not covered by the insurance policy.
The higher one’s bodily injury policy limits are, the greater protection one has against an excess verdict. It is strongly suggested that one purchases a policy including B.I. limits of at least $100,000 per individual and $300,000 per event. With very high bodily injury limits, the likelihood that a Plaintiff would spend the time and money to place a lien on other assets is greatly reduced.
- Purchase uninsured motorist/underinsured motorist coverage – and more than the minimal amount;
Uninsured/Underinsured motorist coverage (UM/UIM) is optional in most states and many people opt-out of this coverage without much thought in order to save money on their premium. This is a very dangerous thing to do and it is very strongly recommended that one opt to purchase this coverage – and more than the minimal policy limit – for the following reasons:
If an individual is injured in a motor vehicle accident at the hands of a person that does not have any car insurance, can that individual recover for the losses that he or she incurred due to the uninsured motorist’s actions? The only way the individual who was injured will not be held solely responsible for the damages he or she sustained at the hands of the uninsured motorist is if he or she bought uninsured motorist coverage.
What if an individual is involved in an accident caused by someone with minimal bodily injury limits and the individual is hurt to the extent that he or she incurs much higher medical expenses than the responsible party’s bodily injury limits will cover? If the responsible party does not personally have a huge amount of unprotected assets, the individual who was injured will be on the hook for the remaining medical expenses and lost wages – unless that individual purchased underinsured motorist coverage.
If one does have this coverage, the injured individual’s own car insurance company will pay the individual’s expenses (if they are reasonable, necessary and related to the alleged injury suffered in the accident with the uninsured motorist) up to the amount of the limits the insured purchased.
- Opt-out of PIP if one has health insurance and needs to save money;
“PIP” stands for “Personal Injury Protection,” and in most states one can opt-out of PIP coverage. If one has health insurance, this coverage is redundant when it comes to the insured and the limit it will pay to cover other people’s injuries is relatively low. Therefore, in order to help offset the cost of the higher B.I. and UM/UIM limits that one has purchased, it is suggested that one opt-out of this coverage. However, if an individual has no problem affording insurance, it does not hurt to purchase this coverage. Essentially, if one is trying to lower one’s premium, begin with opting out of this coverage.
In sum, the best way to protect oneself when purchasing a car insurance policy, while not paying an exorbitant amount, is as follows: Purchase high bodily injury and uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage limits and opt-out of the personal injury protection (if one has health insurance).
James Richard Edwards is a fifth year attorney who has just opened his own law firm in Houston, Texas after spending years working under some of the most highly regarded attorneys in both Houston and San Antonio. In 2015 Mr. Edwards was given the honor of being considered one of the “Best Lawyers in San Antonio” by S.A. Scene Magazine. In 2016, Mr. Edwards moved back to Houston, Texas to begin pursuing his life dream of opening his own litigation firm in his home town that caters to individual clients in Houston, San Antonio, Corpus Christi, and the Rio Grande Valley. Mr. Edwards‘ practice focuses on criminal defense, personal injury law, and family law but his firm provides services for essentially any other kind of legal need you may have. Mr. Edwards provides free consultations and will be happy to discuss any potential legal issue, even if you are from a different state. If you need any kind of legal services, Mr. Edwards will be there for you in the Clutch! For more information see ClutchCityAttorney.com. Please contact him at: [email protected] and/or 713-515-1420.
If you would like to see Mr. Edwards discuss a certain legal topic that you are interested in or need an answer to, please send an email to Mr. Edwards at the address above and he will gladly consider any and all suggestions.