Understanding Your Car Insurance Coverage

Automobile insurance policies cover more than just your responsibility for an accident. The usual policy is really a "bundle" of separate insurance coverages that provide important protection for you, your family members and your passengers. Some of these coverages are automatically included in your policy, while others are optional. As a Connecticut personal injury lawyer who has handled many car accident cases, I know how important it is to have sufficient insurance limits. The following is a brief description of the kinds of coverage that an auto insurance policy may cover.

Liability insurance covers bodily injury to other people and damage to the property of others caused by your negligence or the negligence of someone driving your car with your permission. Connecticut state law requires a minimum of $20,000 per person and $40,000 per accident for bodily injury liability and $10,000 per accident for property damage liability. This is usually written as "limits of 20/40," meaning that there is $40,000 in total coverage, regardless of the number of claimants. However, no one person may receive more than $20,000.

Uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage is important protection for you, since it covers bodily injury to you, any relative who lives with you and any of your passengers in an accident caused by an uninsured motorist or an underinsured motorist. An underinsured motorist is either a hit -and-run driver or a motorist whose bodily injury liability limits are less than your uninsured/underinsured motorist limits. The standard coverage is an amount equal to your bodily injury liability coverage, but you may purchase additional coverage up to an amount double your bodily injury liability. The minimum amount required by law is $20,000 per person and $40,000 per accident.

Underinsured motorist conversion coverage also provides for reimbursement in case you are injured by an underinsured driver. It is more expensive than regular underinsured motorist coverage because it may provide you with more money in case of a serious accident. If your damages exceed the limits of the at-fault driver's insurance, then your underinsured motorist conversion coverage will be available for damages not paid. This optional coverage is not reduced by payments from any other source, including the at-fault driver's liability insurance.

For example, if you have uninsured/underinsured coverage of $300,000 and you suffer $400,000 in personal injuries caused by an at-fault driver with $200,000 in bodily injury liability, without underinsured conversion coverage you would only be able to collect the $200,000 from the other driver's insurance plus $100,000 from your own underinsured coverage, which equals your $300,000 limit minus the $200,000 collected from the other driver's insurance. With conversion coverage, you could collect the full $200,000 from your own underinsured coverage, for a total of $400,000.

Basic reparations or medical payments coverage. This optional coverage replaces formerly mandatory coverage and provides for payment of your medical bills if you are in a car accident (regardless of fault) and, in some cases, lost wages and funeral expenses if you or a relative living with you is injured or killed in an accident. This is an optional coverage that, as a car accident personal injury lawyer in Connecticut, I highly recommend, especially if you do not have major medical insurance or have a high deductible.

Comprehensive coverage covers damage to your car other than that caused by collision, including theft, vandalism, impact with animals or birds, explosion, flood, falling objects, windstorm and glass breakage. As with collision coverage, there is usually a deductible.

Collision coverage covers damage to your car caused by collision with another vehicle or object or by your car turning over. There is almost always a deductible, which you must pay if you repair or replace the car.

Full glass coverage covers your car's glass for breakage of safety glass with no deductible for an extra premium. Towing coverage covers the expense of towing your car to a shop. Rental reimbursement pays toward the expense of renting a vehicle if you have a loss covered by either collision or comprehensive coverage and your car is disabled.

The contents of this article are taken directly from a Connecticut Insurance Department publication and are for general information only.

Get A Free Consultation With An Experienced Connecticut Auto Accident Attorney With Offices In Stamford, Norwalk And Bridgeport

At the Law Offices of John J. LaCava, LLC, we have been helping put lives back together for more than 35 years. If you were injured in a motor vehicle accident, we will review your insurance coverage and advise on the options for you to recover maximum injury compensation.

The main offices of our firm are in Stamford, Connecticut, but you can reach us at any of our three convenient Fairfield County locations. Call our office for a free consultation or complete the brief online form.