Having car insurance is not only a good idea but, in many states, it is the law. Regardless of whether or not you are “required” to carry insurance, it is a good idea to do so. Unfortunately, there are many drivers on the road who choose not to insure their car and, inevitably, a certain percentage of those people will end up in a car accident.
This article reviews different types of insurance coverage and a few scenarios that may arise should you be involved in a motor vehicle collision in Des Moines, Iowa and either you or the other involved driver do not have car insurance. Also addressed herein are “underinsured” drivers who are people that have car insurance but their policy limits are too low to fairly compensate you for your injuries.
Insurance requirements vary from state to state. Thus, depending on what state you are in, some of the coverage discussed herein may not be available or the way in which they operate may be different than discussed in this article.
Contact one of our Des Moines, Iowa personal injury lawyers today for further information about the role of car insurance in motor vehicle collisions. We can be reached via phone at 515-493-4878.
Types of Car Insurance Coverage
When you purchase car insurance, you are entering into a contract with the insurance company. You are agreeing to pay for certain coverage and the insurance company is agreeing to pay for certain losses, up to a certain dollar amount, should you have a “qualifying event”. A qualifying event, as spelled out in your insurance policy, is simply an occurrence (such as a car accident in Des Moines or elsewhere) for which your insurance company has agreed to cover certain financial losses associated with the event. The dollar amounts available and types of coverage depend on what you select and pay for.
Some of the more typical types of coverages for automobiles include:
• Comprehensive Insurance: this is coverage that pays for damage to your car that is caused by something other than a car accident. Examples of when comprehensive insurance comes into play include vandalism, damage from flooding, or property damage caused by striking an animal such as a deer.
• Collision Insurance: this coverage applies when your car is damaged or totaled in a motor vehicle collision as opposed to some other means (see: comprehensive insurance).
• Liability Insurance: this coverage is similar to collision but is used to pay for someone else’s property damage that you cause in a car accident.
• Med-Pay: med-pay is a coverage used in some states to help pay for your own medical treatment following a car accident. Med-pay availability varies widely between states.
• Personal-Injury-Protection: this coverage is also referred to as “no-fault” or “PIP” coverage. In no-fault states, you go to your own insurance policy for payment of medical bills regardless of who caused the accident.
• Uninsured Motorist Protection: also referred to as “UM” insurance comes into play if you are involved in a car accident caused by an uninsured person. If you are injured in such a crash, you may be able to make a personal injury claim against the uninsured motorist provision of your own policy. For more detail, please keep reading.
• Underinsured Motorist Protection: also referred to as “UIM” coverage is similar to uninsured claims in that UIM claims are made against your own policy. They differ from uninsured claims in thats under-insured claims are made when the other at-fault driver has insurance but their limits are too low to compensate you for your injury.
What If The Other Driver Doesn’t Have Car Insurance?
Depending on your state, an uninsured driver may be subject to a citation and fine. However, a ticket from the police does nothing to help compensate you for your injuries be they soft tissue or a broken leg. Fortunately, there is insurance coverage that may be available to you in the form of Uninsured Motorist Protection if you are involved in a car accident.
As discussed briefly above, uninsured motorist insurance, often referred to as UM, is coverage that may be available for you through your own auto policy. In short, you pay your auto insurance premium to your insurance company and they, in turn, agree to stand in the shoes of the uninsured driver. With that in mind, do not assume that you cannot make a personal injury claim simply because the at-fault driver is uninsured. An experienced personal injury attorney will be able to tell you in short order whether or not a UM claim is a possibility for you.
From a procedural standpoint, a UM claim is nearly identical to a third-party liability claim with the major difference being who the claim is made against. In some ways, a UM claim can be more straight forward then a liability claim against another driver. The reason for this is that a UM claim is a “first-party claim” (contract) while a liability claim is a “third-party claim” based in tort law. Often, you are treated more favorably by your own company by virtue of your contract with them than you are with another company who owes you no duty.
What If The Other Driver Doesn’t Have Enough Insurance To Pay For My Injuries?
We often encounter the situation in which a driver who causes a car accident in Des Moines, Iowa and, although they have insurance, they don’t have enough insurance to properly compensate you for your injuries. Imagine, for example, you suffered a traumatic brain injury in a car accident and the at-fault driver had only thirty-thousand dollars in liability coverage. Clearly, a serious traumatic brain injury is worth more than thirty-thousand dollars so, in this scenario, the at-fault driver would be considered “under-insured”.
In that circumstance, depending on your insurance policy, you may be able to make an under-insured claim back against your own policy. Just like an uninsured motorist claim, an underinsured claim is a first-party contract claim.
What If I Don’t Have Car Insurance And I Cause a Car Accident?
If you cause a car accident and you do not have insurance, there is often very little that can be done for you. All of your losses, such as property damage, medical bills, and lost wages will be yours alone. Your health insurance may or may not help with medical bills but the other losses will remain yours.
Worse yet, if you were the cause of the accident, you could end up being personally responsible for the other parties losses as well as your own. It is true that the other driver may make a UM claim as discussed above but their insurance company can come after you to recoup their losses. Clearly, having sufficient insurance can save you significant dollars in the long run.
Contact a Des Moines, Iowa Car Accident Attorney
If you have been injured in a car or semi-truck accident anywhere in Iowa and have questions pertaining to insurance, or any other matter, contact one of our personal injury attorneys for a free consultation. We can be reached at 515.493.4878.