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Understanding Your Insurance Policy: What do you mean I’m not covered?

by Autumn Betke

All too often, in speaking with friends and clients, I discover that a great majority of people do not understand their insurance coverage.  Understanding the various types of auto insurance available, and what coverage best suits your family, is important in making an informed decision, and it won’t necessarily increase your premium.

MEET MARY

Recently, I met with a new client who is the mother of a close friend.  Mary was t-boned while driving to church, her car was totaled, and she was transported to the hospital via ambulance.  There were complications, and she was in intensive care for two days with a guarded prognosis.  Her husband and children were overwhelmed with grief, but at least they wouldn’t have to worry about the medical bills because their insurance agent had provided them with a “full coverage” policy.  In fact, they had a 100/300/100 policy, and felt a sense of relief and comfort knowing this, even at such a difficult and stressful time…or at least that’s what they thought at the time.

WHAT IS FULL COVERAGE?

Full coverage means different things to different people.  It is not uncommon to believe you have “full coverage” when you really only have full “liability” coverage, just as my friend’s mother had in the scenario above.  She had 100/300/100 in liability coverage which means she had plenty of coverage if she hit someone else, but she had no UM/UIM (Uninsured/Underinsured) coverage and no Med Pay (Medical Payments) coverage.

WHAT IS LIABILITY INSURANCE?

Liability insurance provides coverage for the other driver and any passengers of that vehicle when you are at fault.  It is the insurance your purchase to protect “the other guy” when you are at fault and cause the accident.  In Mary’s instance, she had a 100/300/100 liability policy which means that she had coverage to provide up to $100,000 in medical bills per person, not to exceed $300,000 per accident, and $100,000 in property damage if the accident were her fault, but it wasn’t her fault. Liability insurance provides insurance to the parties you hit when you are at fault, but it doesn’t provide any coverage for you and your family when you are not at fault.

WHAT IS UM/UIM?

Uninsured/Underinsured coverage, commonly referred to as UM/UIM, is insurance that protects you and your family in case you are hit and injured by a driver that has little or no insurance.  In Mary’s case, she declined UM/UIM insurance because she didn’t understand what it was, and because her insurance agent told her she didn’t need it.  It’s true that Nevada law does not require UM/UIM coverage. Nevada law requires only that you purchase insurance to cover other parties, but it makes sense to purchase an equal amount of UM/UIM insurance (to cover you and your family) as you have in liability insurance (to cover others when the accident is your fault).

WHAT IS MED PAY?

Med pay (or medical payments) coverage pays for any medical bills incurred when related to an accident involving a motor vehicle, up to an amount you have chosen.  Typical amounts are $1,000, $5,000 or $10,000.  Med pay is another way you can protect your family, and is very inexpensive to add to an existing policy.

WHAT CAN YOU DO?

Call your insurance agent, and ask for a quote.  Now that you understand how it works, you are better able to decide what kinds of coverage are best for you and your family.  Mary, for instance, decided that she did not need a 100/300/100 liability policy so she was able to lower her liability coverage while adding UM/UIM coverage.  She now has a policy that covers others (as required by Nevada law) as well as her and her family.  She also added $5,000 in med pay coverage, all for roughly the same price she was paying for just a liability policy.

Protecting yourself and your family doesn’t have to increase your insurance premium.

Contact the attorneys at Bertoldo, Baker, Carter & Smith today for assistance with any vehicle accident claim in Nevada. 702-228-2600

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