Although I do not sell car insurance, I am a personal injury lawyer and often see people suffering because they have the wrong coverage. This is often because they bought directly from an insurance company and not an independent broker.
My clients who were seriously injured in car accidents are often struck by someone without insurance, or with only minimum liability coverage. This is $25,000 in New York, and less in other states. Many of my clients were sold policies that had liability limits of $100,000 and $300,000. However, they were not offered matching uninsured or underinsured coverage.
This problem was faced by another client just this week. My client was crossing the street when she was struck and run over by the car. Although the driver was arrested shortly after the accident, the New York State minimum insurance coverage of $25,000 did not cover the car. My client sustained serious injuries, including broken bones, including an arm, leg, and skull.
My client has a car with $300,000 of liability insurance. However, she bought the insurance from GEICO, whose salesperson did not sell her coverage for underinsured drivers. GEICO doesn’t use independent insurance brokers. Instead, they sell insurance directly to customers through their in-house agents.
My client could have bought $300,000. Underinsured coverage would have allowed her to get $300,000. Ironically, her $300,000 liability coverage was not necessary to protect her assets. She did not need the $300,000 liability coverage. I advised her to buy $300,000.
Many of my clients have been in this position. They lost their jobs due to serious injuries, and they incurred significant debt. The additional money they would have to pay their claim if they had matching underinsured coverage would have been a huge help in paying their bills and getting their life back on track.
If you are injured in an automobile accident caused by someone else’s negligence and have less liability insurance than you, your underinsured motorist coverage will pay money out of your auto insurance policy. Uninsured motorist coverage pays you if the other vehicle does not have insurance or is not known to be insured.
Uninsured or underinsured coverage can be inexpensive and is usually available in amounts that match your liability insurance coverage. It cannot be purchased in excess of your liability insurance coverage.
Uninsured and underinsured coverage are so critical that several states require coverage limits equal to your liability insurance limits unless you decline the coverage in written. I suggested several years ago to several New York State Senators that they pass a similar law.
I’ve also met many clients who weren’t sold maximum medical payments insurance. It costs me $2.01 per monthly on my auto insurance policy. This is especially important for those who don’t have good health insurance. This is especially beneficial for those who don’t have any health insurance.
Why would you choose to buy car insurance through an independent broker? The reason has been defined by the courts. Insurance companies have been sued for failing to provide coverage limits that meet the liability limits. These cases are not applicable to insurance companies that sell directly to consumers. The courts ruled that a consumer who buys insurance directly from an insurer, and not an insurance broker, is buying insurance only. They are not receiving advice.
Independent insurance brokers can help you find auto insurance that suits your needs. Independent insurance brokers can offer you a wide range of premiums and insurance companies so that you get the best coverage for the lowest price.
No matter if you are buying your car insurance through an insurance company directly or an independent broker, make sure you have the right coverage for uninsured drivers and maximum medical payments benefits.