Many people renew their auto insurance around the first of the year. This may be a good time to review your auto coverage to protect yourself and your family should you be injured on or off duty. Given the frequency in which officers are injured in auto related accidents, you need adequate insurance to protect yourself and your family.
PIP (Person Injury Protection) – This is part 2 on your auto policy and allows for up to $8,000 in medical payments and lost wages. Although this is a fairly standard item on most policies, some people do not realize until it’s too late that they have a deductible for this coverage. The most notable problem arises with persons who have purchased insurance online from Progressive. When purchasing insurance through the website, the consumer is asked if he/she has health insurance. To those answering “yes”, the software would apply a deductible to some or all of the $8,000 in benefits with a savings of about $15 per year. This deductible can cost you thousands of dollars if you get into an accident at a slight savings. Given how the website handles the health insurance question, very few people realize the trap they have fallen into and only discover the problem after an accident. It is unclear if Progressive has changed its website software to correct this problem. Everyone should check their policies to be sure you have the maximum coverage whether you have Progressive or some other insurer.
Uninsured Motorist – This is part 3 of your policy. This allows you to collect benefits on your own policy should you (1) be injured in an auto accident (2) another party is at fault and (3) the other party is considered uninsured. An auto is uninsured if the insurance has lapsed, the car is driven by an unauthorized user (use without authority or larceny of a motor vehicle), or it was a hit-and-run accident (unidentified auto). This coverage allows you to collect up to the stated limits on part 3 of your policy if you meet the above criteria. It applies whether you were the driver of a car when you were injured, a passenger or a pedestrian (such as on a road job, traffic stop or accident scene). You do not have to be in your own vehicle for this coverage to apply. It can be used when you suffer an injury while a driver or passenger in another vehicle, such as a cruiser. Making a claim on this part will not raise your premiums. I would recommend at least $100,000/$300,000 limits and think $250,000/$500,000 is even better.
Underinsured Motorist – This is part 12 of your policy. This offers nearly identical coverage as Uninsured Motorist. The difference is that the vehicle which caused your injury is identified, but it does not have sufficient insurance to cover the value of your injury. In this case, you subtract the policy limits of the car that injured you from your policy limits, and can make a claim on the difference. For instance, if the car that injured you had the minimum of $20,000 in insurance and your part 12 underinsured was $100,000, you can make a claim against the other car for the $20,000 and against your own insurer for $80,000 ($100,00 – $20,000). Given the economy, many people have bare minimum insurance and this coverage is important to compensate you should your injury be serious.
Medical Payments – This is part 6. Many people skip Medical Payments (MedPay) coverage with the feeling that their health insurance will cover any medical bills. Although that may be correct, MedPay is still very valuable. Most people do not know that if your health insurance pays medical bills for an injury and you make a claim against the person who injured you, they have the right to get back the money they paid out towards your medical care. This is an especially difficult lesson to learn when the injury is serious and there is not enough auto insurance to compensate you. You could get little or nothing after your health insurer steps in line in front of you. MedPay does not have to be paid back. It can lessen or eliminate any lien by the health insurer by paying your medical bills ahead of the insurer. The coverage is sold in increments of $5,000 and is very cheap. Please consider purchasing at least $10,000 of MedPay insurance.
If your policy is not up for renewal right now, it is still a good time to review your coverage. If you find your coverage needs upgrading and it is affordable, your agent or company can make the changes mid-policy period and pro rate the cost. This coverage will protect yourself and your family should you be injured by an uninsured or underinsured driver. Don’t count on the other driver having enough insurance to compensate you; count on yourself to be protected.