Questions and Answers about Auto Insurance

Auto Insurance FAQTop Questions Regarding Auto InsuranceTable of ContentsWhat is Bodily Injury Liability Coverage?
This coverage protects you if you are involved in an accident and you cause physical injury to others.  This coverage is required by California law to have.  A minimum policy limit of $15,000.00 is required in the State of California.  While this is the legal minimum amount required, this office recommends at least $100,000.00 per person, $300,000 per incident, or more.
What is Property Damage Liability Coverage?
This coverage protects you if you are involved in an accident and cause damage to someone else's property.  This coverage is required by California law to have.  A minimum policy limit of $5,0000.00 is required in the State of California.  While this is the minimum required, this office recommends a minimum of at least $25,000.00 or more.
What is Uninsured Motorists Bodily Injury Coverage?
This coverage protects you and others in your car for injuries sustained if you are in an accident with an uninsured driver.  This is optional coverage and must be specifically requested by you when you purchase auto insurance coverage.  We recommend clients carry a minimum $100,000 per person, $300,000 per incident in uninsured motorist insurance.
What is Uninsured Motorist Property Damage Coverage?
This coverage provides funds to repair your vehicle if you are in an accident with an uninsured driver.  If the person who hits you does not have coverage, your vehicle can be repaired under your own policy.  This is optional coverage and must be specifically requested by you when you purchase auto insurance coverage.
What is Medical Payments Coverage?
This coverage pays for medical expenses from an accident for either yourself or your passengers, regardless of fault. In other words, if you were at fault for the collision, you can use this provision to pay for medical bills incurred by you or any other persons in your vehicle until the insurance limit you select is reached.  Additionally, reimbursement for your health coverage deductibles can be made under the medical payments coverage of your auto policy. It can pay for emergency services, such as ambulance services, which is not covered by many health insurance plans. It can also be used for treatment such as acupuncture, massage or chiropractic manipulations if such options are not available through your health insurance.  This is optional coverage and must be requested.
What is Comprehensive Coverage?
This coverage pays for damages to your vehicle caused by something other than a collision. Some examples are vandalism, theft, and damage due to animals, fire or flood. This coverage pays to fix your vehicle less the deductible you choose. The deductible you select should be what you feel comfortable paying out of pocket.  This is optional coverage and must be requested. Remember, if you have a car loan, your lender will require that you have this coverage. It is your responsibility to request this coverage.
What is Collision Coverage?
This coverage pays for damages to your vehicle, regardless of fault, when you hit another car or object. This coverage pays to fix your vehicle less the deductible you choose.  The deductible you select should be what you feel comfortable paying out of pocket.  This is optional coverage and must be requested. Remember, if you have a car loan, your lender will require that you have this coverage. It is your responsibility to request this coverage.
If uninsured motorist coverage is optional, why should I buy it?
As of April 2013, the Department of Insurance states that in the U.S. approximately 16% of the population is uninsured.  California has a higher number of uninsured motorists on the road. According to the Department of Insurance in 2013, 25% of California drivers are driving without auto insurance.  You and your family will be adversely affected if you sustain severe injuries or lose wages by an uninsured motorist and have no such coverage in place.
I already have health insurance. Why should I get medical payment coverage on my auto insurance policy?
Medical payment coverage will pick up some bills that not all health insurance coverage will.  For instance, emergency transportation bills (i.e., private ambulance providers), chiropractors, acupuncturists, or massage therapy may not be covered under a traditional health insurance plan.  Additionally, while some doctors may be willing to wait until your claim resolves to be paid, not all doctors will.  In this instance, it's advantageous to have your own med pay coverage, through your auto insurer, to help pay for your bills so you aren't forced to rush your personal injury claim.
Should I buy a personal umbrella insurance policy?
If you have substantial assets, I would also suggest you obtain a ‘personal umbrella’ insurance policy.  This is different from an ordinary umbrella policy, and basically provides excess coverage to you after you use up the third party limits and your own underinsured motorist coverage.
Most umbrella policies do not pay for injuries sustained in an auto accident.  Please call our office at 916.921.6400 for names of agents who sell personal umbrella policies.
I was injured and the person who struck me has no insurance. How can I recover for my damages?
Most auto insurance companies offer uninsured/under-insured motorist coverage. If you have this coverage, you can seek reimbursement through your own insurance company. Since many California drivers are uninsured, we recommend that you carry a minimum $100,000/$300,000 UM coverage.
What is a reasonable amount to accept for my case? I was hit on the freeway in the rear by a drunk driver with no insurance. I have UM insurance up to $50,000.00
Under the uninsured motorist policy, you have a maximum of 50,000 you can obtain for your injuries.  If the drunk driver has substantial assets, you could of course sue him directly.  But most of the time, drunk drivers have limited assets and so you would need to make an uninsured motorist claim.
The sum you might reasonably recover varies depending on the state you are in and the severity of your injuries.  If a person knows they are facing surgery, a letter may be needed from your doctor in this regard. If the insurance company makes no movement towards settlement, under-inured motorist claims will move forward to a binding arbitration and an arbitrator will ultimately make a decision.
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