As an attorney helping people seriously injured in car, truck, motorcycle and bicycle accidents for the past 21 years, I harbor no love for insurance companies. Most will do whatever they can to ensure that they are paying you as little as possible for your injuries. So by no means am I trying to make them more money or increase your premiums.
However, when you are seriously injured in a car accident, it is important to have the right insurance coverage to protect yourself and your family. Unfortunately, most people don’t even know what they have for coverage, let alone what they should have. So I wanted to take a few minutes to discuss some types of insurance that we believe everyone should have and the reasons why. I will start with the reason why.
The Horror Story
Imagine for a second that you are driving your motorcycle on beautiful sunny Spring day not two blocks from your house. You stop with traffic because a dog ran into the roadway ahead. All of a sudden you are struck from behind by a large pickup truck driven by a drunk driver. You become pinned under the truck and dragged for a distance. As a result, you suffer catastrophic injuries to both of your legs. You are taken to the local hospital, but the injuries are too severe so you are med-flighted to Boston. You remain in the hospital, unable to leave or work for three months.
After several more months, which include multiple surgeries and rehab, both legs have irreparable permanent damage. The medical bills are more than $500,000 and will continue to accumulate for years to come. It goes without saying, your life will never quite be the same again.
If all this wasn’t bad enough, the driver who hit you only had the State’s minimum insurance coverage of $20,000. To make matters worse, you didn’t have any additional insurance to help compensate you for this horrific loss.
I wish I were making this up. Unfortunately, I’m not. This is the story of one our clients from a few years ago. While no amount of money could ever make up for what happened to her, better insurance coverage could have made things a little easier.
What is truly unfortunate is that we see horror stories like this all the time. Please continue to reading to learn about some types of insurance which will help protect you and your family should this type of tragedy occur.
Medical Payments Coverage
Medical Payments (otherwise known as Med Pay) is optional coverage similar to the compulsory Personal Injury Protection (PIP) coverage. Med Pay is an important benefit for you and your family because it pays for medical expenses incurred as a result of an accident, regardless of who is at fault. A typical Med Pay policy of $5,000 – $10,000 worth of coverage is usually $20 or less per year. You can get Med Pay coverage in higher amounts than this, but these are typical.
Why should you get Med Pay?
Private health insurers, like Blue Cross & Blue Shield, Tufts, Harvard Pilgrim, etc. often pay a portion of your medical bills when you are injured in a car accident. When these insurers make such payments, they are entitled to be reimbursed out of your settlement proceeds. They do this by asserting a lien on the case. When that happens, we are required to reimburse them for the medical expenses they have paid. In addition, certain public benefits like Mass Health and Medicare who pay any part of your medical bills are also required by law to be reimbursed. If you have Med Pay, a much smaller amount is paid by these public and private health insurers. More importantly, unlike these other insurers, you do not have to reimburse your car insurance company for payments made under the Med Pay portion of the insurance policy. Simply put, you are able to keep more of your settlement money in your own pocket.
Uninsured / Underinsured Auto Coverage
This type of insurance, also referred to as “U” coverage protects you, members of your household, and passengers in your car for injuries caused by an uninsured auto, by a driver with inadequate insurance, or by a hit and run driver. “U” coverage also protects you and members of your household from injuries sustained as a pedestrian or as a passenger in a vehicle you do not own. “U” coverage allows you to go back to your own insurance company for additional compensation after you have exhausted the insurance of the at-fault driver. Further, your own company cannot penalize or surcharge you for using this coverage. In addition, we are not required to pay back your health insurance company for medical benefits paid by them, when we settle this portion of your case. This means more money in your pocket!
Like Med Pay coverage, this additional insurance is very affordable. We encourage that you carry at least $100,000 / $300,000 in “U” coverage. For a small amount more each month, you can increase your coverage to $250,000 / $500,000 for even better protection. While the cost of “U” coverage will vary based on the amount of coverage sought; your driving history; the type of vehicle; age of the driver; and in city in which you live, for many the cost of this additional “U” coverage can be as little a $30 – $50 per year.
For the unfortunate victims of such tragic accidents, the financial devastation to them and their families can be lessened or avoided. Nobody expects to have an accident like the horror story described above to occur, but they do happen every day.
The Economy & Insurance
While there always have been a number of drivers on the road without the requisite car insurance, a poor economy, coupled with the high unemployment rates will increase the number of drivers who have now dropped their insurance or carry only the legally required minimum. “U” coverage and Med Pay are there to protect you in these situations. With the increased rate of joblessness and, therefore, lack of insurance it is imperative that you protect yourself and your family in the event tragedy strikes.
Have Your Policy Reviewed
Insurance can be complicated. If you are not sure if you have the right type or amount of coverage, we will be happy to connect you with an insurance professional, such as our agent, Joshua Shotts at Ironside Insurance Group (Joshua.Shotts@ironsideinsurancegroup.com), who can evaluate your policy and make appropriate recommendations based upon your particular circumstances. Or just give us a call to make an appointment.