Whenever I meet with a client who has been injured in an auto accident caused by another’s negligence, one of the first topics we discuss is auto-insurance coverage. When I ask the client about his own auto insurance the typical response is “I have full coverage. But the accident wasn’t my fault, so why does that matter?” Said aloud, full coverage conveys a sense of comfort, protection, and security. But what does it really mean? Does it really exist? And what exactly does it cover?
Insurance Doesn’t Always Cover What You Think It Does
Many motorists mistakenly think they are fully covered on their automobile when they have the basics:
- Bodily-injury liability
- Property damage
- Sometimes collision and comprehensive coverage
Nevada law requires every driver to carry auto insurance coverage of a minimum of $15,000 per person/$30,000 per accident for bodily injury and $10,000 per accident for property damage. These amounts are commonly referred to as 15/30/10. If you were injured by a driver deemed at fault who carried a minimum policy then the policy would pay up to $15,000.00 for your bodily injury claim and up to $10,000.00 for the property damage to your vehicle. But what if your damages exceed the at-fault driver’s minimum policy limits? Or worse…what if the driver deemed at fault has no insurance coverage?
Your Auto-Insurance Policy
Nevada law does not require motorists to carry:
- Uninsured-motorist coverage
- Underinsured motorist coverage
- Medical-payments coverage
Contact your auto insurance company for a complete list of available optional coverage.
Instead, the law simply requires insurance companies to offer these optional coverages for purchase. Often time motorists decline or reject these coverages because they are unsure of their purpose and/or are interested in keeping their premiums low. But perhaps it is time to rethink the necessity of those optional coverages.
What Does Your Insurance Cover?
Back to your auto accident…your vehicle was rear-ended by another driver and you suffered serious bodily injuries. The driver has a minimum auto policy and your medical expenses exceed the driver’s policy limits. If you have a policy of underinsured motorist coverage on your auto insurance policy then you could make a claim on your own auto insurance for those benefits. Underinsured motorist coverage becomes effective if the at-fault driver’s insurance limits are not high enough to cover your injuries or damages from the accident. You could potentially recover up to your limits of underinsured motorist coverage.
But what if the at-fault driver had no insurance at the time of the accident? If you have a policy of uninsured motorist coverage on your auto insurance policy then you could make a claim on your own insurance for those benefits. Uninsured motorist coverage becomes effective if the at-fault driver has no insurance to cover your injuries and damages. You could potentially recover up to your limits of uninsured motorist coverage.
Another very important coverage is medical payments coverage, or “med pay” as it is commonly referred. Medical payments coverage can be used to cover your medical expenses incurred as a result of a car accident, regardless of fault. It can also be used to cover medical expenses when you are in another person’s vehicle or if you are a pedestrian and struck by a vehicle. Additionally, medical payments coverage will cover any passengers in your vehicle or any family members who are driving your insured vehicle at the time of the accident. Motorists often believe that if they have health insurance they do not need medical payment coverage. However, medical payments coverage can be used in addition to your health insurance for medical expenses you incur as a result of an auto accident.
Be Informed & Protect Yourself
Unfortunately, there is no such thing as “full coverage”—it is a fiction. What one person may think best suits his or her needs for auto protection may not be the same for another person. There are many coverage options available, and each should be explored. You need to pick the coverages that give you peace of mind and provide you the greatest protection, even if it means an increase in your premium.
All too often I see clients who have been involved in an accident caused by a driver with minimum limits, have sustained serious injuries that exceed those limits, and have no underinsured motorist coverage or medical payments coverage on their policies. And again I hear: “But I have full coverage.” Don’t let it be you. Be informed and protect yourself.
At Bertoldo, Baker, Carter, Smith & Cullen, our Las Vegas personal injury lawyers recognize that you have a lot to deal with and we can honestly say that we will do whatever we can to help you and your family get through this difficult time. For a free consultation, call our offices today at (702) 505-8115.