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 $25,000 per person and $50,000 per accident for bodily injury liability, and $10,000 per accident for property damage liability. This is usually written as "limits of 25/50" meaning that there is $50,000.00 in total coverage, regardless of the number of claimants. However, no one person may receive more than $25,000.00.

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 a motorist whose bodily injury liability limits are less than your uninsured/underinsured motorist limits, or a hit-and-run driver. 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.

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, let’s assume your case is worth $400,000.00. and you have uninsured/underinsured coverage of $300,000.00 on your vehicle. If you were to collect the full policy limit of $100,000.00 from the at-fault driver, you would only be able to collect an additional $200,000 from your own policy for a total recovery of $300,000.00. This is because standard underinsured coverage allows your auto insurance company to take a "credit" for the $100,000.00 paid by the at-fault driver’s insurance. With conversion coverage, however, your company does not get to offset the amount paid by the at-fault driver towards its limits of coverage. In the above example, you could collect the full $300,000 from your own underinsured coverage, plus the $100,000.00 from the at-fault driver, for a total of $400,000.00.

Medical payments coverage. This optional coverage and provides insurance for payment of your medical bills if you are in a car accident (regardless of fault). 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 is for general information only.

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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.

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