Do You Know Your Own Auto Insurance Coverage?

car accident insurance confusion
Car insurance can be confusing. Know your coverage – it could help you in the long run.

In Missouri, everyone is required to have car insurance. However, you’d probably be surprised how many people don’t actually know what coverage they have.  Worse yet, about 13 percent of all American motorists are driving without insurance, according to the Insurance Information Institute.

Ask 10 random strangers what insurance coverage they have, and you will probably get a lot of shrugs. This is partly because people don’t like to think about being involved in a serious car accident. Also, insurance terms are not always that easy to understand, especially the way that insurance companies explain them. So, to make sense of your coverage, here are the basic terms and features you need to understand.

Liability

Every Missouri driver is required to carry a minimum amount of liability coverage. In Missouri, this means carrying bodily injury coverage of $25,000 per person and $50,000 per accident, and at least $10,000 in property damage. Liability coverage is the amount that your insurance company is required to pay for the harms and losses you cause other people.

If you cause an accident that seriously injures someone else or destroys their car, then your liability limit is the maximum amount that your insurance company will pay. If the other person sues you and obtains a large judgment in excess of your insurance, this is the amount you would be personally responsible for paying.  When you think about the average cost of an emergency room bill, x-rays, and medications, $25,000 is rarely enough.

Collision

Collision coverage pays for property damages to your vehicle. If you cause an accident, your insurance company will pay up to your limit to fix or replace your vehicle. If someone else causes the wreck, your insurance may still handle the claim upfront. If it does so, it will then go after the other driver (or his/her insurance company) to get its money back. This is called “subrogation.”  In 2015, USA Today reported the average price of a new car in America was $33,560.  For this reason, $10,000 is probably not going to cover the majority of vehicles on the road.

Comprehensive

This type of coverage is optional, unless you have a vehicle financed through a lender who requires you to carry it. This coverage pays for any damages that are not already covered by liability of collision coverage. For instance, this coverage would pay for things like hail damage or a fallen tree limb.

Uninsured / Underinsured Motorist

Although optional, it is very wise to carry uninsured motorist coverage. This pays for your losses when the other person who caused the wreck is not insured. It comes in two varieties – bodily injury and property damage. Some insurance companies automatically include both property and bodily injury coverage. In other words, it’s both or nothing. Others let you pick and choose. You can also select underinsured motorist coverage. This pays when your losses and injuries exceed the amount of coverage the at-fault party carries.

Medical Payments

When you’re injured in a car accident, there can be a lot of medical expenses. Many medical providers will not bill your health insurance, because the person who caused the accident should pay instead. Even if they do bill your health insurance, you will likely have out of pocket expenses, like deductibles and copays. Medical payments coverage is an optional benefit that covers these expenses upfront. If you collect from the at-fault party, you will likely be required to pay some or all of this back out of your judgment or settlement.

Benefits of Hiring a Lawyer

If you are injured in a Kansas City auto accident, an experienced personal injury lawyer can help explain how your insurance coverage will affect your total recovery. Don’t take the insurance company’s word for it; their job is to avoid paying. Sadly, many adjusters will lie to you about your coverage or try to settle for way less than the case is worth. Contact the attorneys of the Krause and Kinsman Law Firm to schedule your free case evaluation today.

Adam Krause is a personal injury, mass tort, business litigation, and employment discrimination attorney who practices in Kansas City, Missouri. He graduated from  the University of Missouri Kansas City School of Law and has been practicing law for several years now. Adam Krause has made a career of taking complicated litigation and presenting it in the most elementary terms for a jury of your peers to understand. Learn more about his experience here.

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