As summer approaches, many of you will be making vacation and other travel
plans. Whether you are driving to visit family, headed south to Florida,
or sticking around Atlanta for a “stay-cation,” I’d
like to suggest that you take a look at your current automobile insurance
coverage. As the economy continues to suffer, we have seen more and more
individuals and families trying to save money by scaling back their auto
coverage. For that reason, I encourage each of you to protect yourself
and your families by maintaining, and even increasing, your coverage in
two key areas.
The first is
Uninsured motorist (UM) coverage which provides coverage to you and the passengers in your
vehicle in the event they are
injured in an accident and the responsible party does not have insurance coverage, or sufficient
coverage, to pay the claim. In addition, UM coverage provides coverage
to you and your family in the event you are injured while in someone else’s vehicle.
As you review your insurance coverage and consider the possibility of changing
your existing UM coverage, it is important to consider the two types currently
available. The first is typically referred to as “set-off”
or “reduced” UM. Simply put, your available UM coverage is
reduced by the amount of liability coverage, if any, carried by the at-fault
driver. For example, assume you chose $100,000 of “reduced”
UM coverage and are injured in an auto accident by an individual carrying
the state minimum liability limits of $25,000. In that case, the insurance
coverage available to you would be $25,000 from the at-fault driver’s
policy and $75,000 from your own UM coverage. This is in stark contrast
to the second form of UM coverage available, known as “add-on”
or “excess” UM. With this type of UM coverage, your coverage
limits are in addition to the available liability limits of the at-fault
party. Therefore, in the above example if you opted for $100,000 of “add-on”
UM coverage, the insurance coverage available to you would be $25,000
from the at-fault driver’s policy as well as $100,000 from your
own UM coverage for a total of $125,000.
In my experience, the difference in the premiums for “reduced”
UM versus “add-on” UM coverage is minimal and well worth the
additional expense. At the very least, I urge you to consider some form
of UM coverage if you do not already have it. If you’ve already
acquired UM coverage, I encourage you to increase its limits to as much
as you are comfortable and to be sure to select “add-on” coverage
as opposed to “reduced” or “set-off.”
In addition to UM coverage,
medical payments coverage (also known as Medpay) is another highly affordable and important coverage
to consider. In a time when more and more individuals are without health
insurance, Medpay coverage has become much more important. Medpay coverage
affords those insured under the policy with coverage to pay for medical
bills incurred as a result of injuries sustained while in a covered vehicle.
For example, if you or a family member is injured in an auto accident
and you don’t have health insurance, Medpay can be used to pay for
hospital bills, doctor’s visits, and physical therapy up to the
limits of your coverage. In the event you do have health insurance, Medpay
can be used to reimburse you for co-pays, prescriptions, and other out-of-pocket expenses.
Medpay is one of the most affordable and useful additions one can make
to their auto policy, however it may not be an effective choice for everyone.
Individuals covered by health insurance with a high deductible or who
have no health insurance will benefit the most from Medpay. In contrast,
individuals who expect to have little out-of-pocket expenses as a result
of a low-deductible health care plan will likely find that money better
spent increasing the limits of their UM coverage.
Whether you are renewing your policy, shopping for a new insurance company,
or simply trying to keep your auto policy as effective and affordable
as possible, I hope you will consider adding or adjusting your UM and
Medpay coverages. Oftentimes, dropping unnecessary features like roadside
assistance or rental car coverage will more than cover the additional
premiums for these two highly useful products. Should you have any questions
regarding the coverages discussed above, or would like me to review your
current policy, please do not hesitate to contact me and I will be happy
to help you.
As always, my business relies heavily on referrals from friends and clients,
past and present. Over the past 17 years I have helped hundreds of individuals
and families recover for all sorts of injury-related matters including
car wrecks, dog bites, slip/trip and falls, and other situations where someone has
been injured due to the fault of another. If you or someone you know is
injured, please call or refer them to my personal injury law firm for
an assessment of the potential claim.
Have a safe and memorable summer!