When buying a car insurance policy, it seems almost all the advertisements focus on price or catchy slogans. Rarely do the commercials go into detail about what actually happens when you’re involved in a serious car accident. Sadly, most insurance sales agents aren’t much better. They typically sell their product much the way you’d sell shovels. They treat insurance like it is interchangeable. Once you have a policy, you’re good to go. Sadly, insurance companies and insurance policies are not all created equal.
The attorneys of the Krause and Kinsman Law Firm routinely help people who’ve been seriously injured in car accidents, and there are a number of things we often discover agents are not telling their customers. Here are just three simple things your agent probably won’t tell you about your policy (or may not know).
#1 Medical Payments May or May Not Pay Your Medical Bills
Medical payments (aka “med pay”) coverage is optional in Missouri. It’s a great add-on benefit, and you should definitely carry some. It usually comes in $1,000, $5,000, or $10,000 increments, but you can get more if you want. After an accident, doctors and hospitals may not bill your health insurance. Medical payments are designed to cover the out-of-pocket costs, including deductibles and copays. What your agent may not tell you is what happens if you’re involved in a car accident.
It is very common for med pay adjusters to “reduce” medical bills. In other words, if you have a $5,000 hospital bill, your insurance company may determine that the care was only worth $3,000, and send that amount, leaving you the balance. While the insurance companies will make all sorts of arguments about what is “reasonable and necessary” care, the fact is you didn’t get to negotiate the price of medical care and you didn’t decide to have a wreck.
#2 Collision Coverage May Not Pay Off Your Car
If you are involved in a collision, you will likely need to get your car fixed. Whether you use your own collision coverage or seek to have the other driver’s insurance pay, insurance companies are only required to pay the reasonable fair market value of the vehicle. If you are “upside down” in your loan (called “negative equity”), you will likely end up owing money on a car that’s been totaled. This is why GAP (or “guaranteed asset protection”) coverage is so helpful in situations where you have an upside down loan.
#3 They Can Raise Your Rates Even if You Are Not At Fault
There are some states where specific laws prohibit insurance companies from punishing innocent drivers who are forced to use med pay or uninsured motorist coverage. Unfortunately, Missouri is not one of them. One study showed that many insurance companies, including Progressive, Allstate, and Geico actually apply surcharges or penalties against drivers who have accidents even when not at fault. In other words, these insurance companies will raise your rates even if you were parked when someone hit you.
Call Experienced Auto Accident Lawyers Today
If you’ve been in a car crash, you need aggressive and knowledgeable legal representation right away. Don’t talk to the insurance company until you’ve called for a free consultation with the Krause and Kinsman Law Firm.
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.