By Attorney Timothy J. Kamper
What You Need to Know about Your Insurance Policy before being an accident victim:
Most accident victims never think about their own coverage.
First party bodily injury coverage is coverage you purchase to protect yourself and your family if you are injured in an automobile accident and can take the form of medical payments coverage, uninsured motorists coverage and underinsured motorists coverage.
Don’t be surprised if your insurance company or agent fails to remind you about first party coverage and they may even fail to remind you about collision coverage, leaving you with the impression that the “other carrier” will take care of it which may not necessarily be the case.
Let’s look at the three types of coverage mentioned above:
Medical Payments Coverage: This is a type of coverage that pays medical bills incurred as a result of injuries sustained in an accident that are reasonable and related to treatment rendered for those injuries. It is usually written in limits from $1,000 per accident to $100,000.
Once you exhaust the limits, the carrier is not obligated to pay any more bills no matter how they relate to the accident. As a side note, you should be aware that any money paid under medical payments coverage may be deducted from uninsured motorists benefits, but not from underinsured motorists benefits, should you use those coverages.
The insurance carrier may also recover the medical payments it pays out over $5,000.00 from the party at fault in the accident – this is called a subrogation right. You should always contact your insurance carrier immediately after the accident to advise them of the accident and to discuss any questions you have about your coverages and your responsibilities under your policy.
Uninsured Motorists Coverage: This coverage applies when the driver who caused the accident was uninsured. Insurance carriers in Arizona are required to offer this coverage up to your liability limits.
For example, if your liability limits are $100,000 per person/$300,000 per accident, your carrier must offer uninsured motorists coverage limits of $100,000/$300,000.
If you and the carrier cannot agree on the value of the case, most policies require you to participate in an arbitration to determine the amount of damages that will compensate you for your accident related injuries. Subrogation rights may be provided in your policy for recovery by your insurance carrier of monies paid out under uninsured motorists’ coverage.
Underinsured Motorists Coverage: This coverage applies if the driver at fault in the accident has insufficient coverage to compensate you for your injuries.
Let’s say you have medical expenses of $25,000.00 and the driver at fault in the accident has $15,000/$30,000 limits. Obviously, your case is worth more than $15,000.00 based upon the medical expenses alone. If you have underinsured motorists coverage limits of $100,000/$300,000, your coverage will pay for damages in excess of $15,000 (up to your limits of $100,000 per person). Carriers are also required to offer underinsured motorists coverage limits up to your liability limits.
There is no subrogation right under underinsured motorists coverage.
“Penny wise, dollar foolish.” Try to provide yourself with the highest limits you can afford. You will discover that the premiums for uninsured motorists’ coverage and underinsured motorists’ coverage are much less than premiums charged for liability coverages.
Avoid the mistake of not “mirroring” coverages; you should purchase high liability coverage limits that protect your assets and mirror this coverage by also purchasing similarly high uninsured and underinsured motorist coverages to protect your physical self that mirror your liability coverage limits. Schedule a meeting with your agent to discuss your financial risk so that you can intelligently purchase coverage within your budget. Remember, after an accident, the only coverages you can be sure of are your own!
We are here to help. If you are injured in an accident, our offices are available to help you. We do not charge a fee for an initial office conference, or for initial telephone or internet inquiries.
We are also happy to answer questions about insurance coverages before you have an accident.
We understand that insurance coverage can be quite confusing and it is far better to have those questions answered before you are an accident victim.
Just email or phone us and we will promptly reply to your inquiry. Kamper & Estrada, PLLC Phoenix Personal Injury Attorneys.
Phoenix Personal Injury Attorney
Kamper & Estrada, PLLC
1 E. Camelback Road, Suite 550
Phoenix, AZ 85012
We represent accident victims in the following areas:
Phoenix AZ, Glendale AZ, Paradise Valley AZ, Scottsdale AZ, Tempe AZ, Peoria AZ, Laveen AZ, Tolleson AZ,
Mesa AZ, Cashion AZ, Sun City AZ, Youngtown AZ, Avondale AZ, Chandler AZ, El Mirage AZ, Luke Afb AZ.
Gilbert AZ, Goodyear AZ, Litchfield Park AZ, Sun City West AZ, Surprise AZ, Cave Creek AZ, Fountain Hills AZ.
Waddell AZ, Carefree AZ, Fort Mcdowell AZ, Higley AZ, Rio Verde AZ, Bapchule AZ, New River AZ, Apache Junction AZ,
Chandler Heights AZ, Buckeye AZ, Queen Creek AZ, Sacaton AZ