Car Insurance Tips

The following tips are presented by the Law Offices of Mark A. Doughty for the benefit of clients in the Sacramento area of Northern California who may be unsure about the right types of automobile insurance coverage to obtain.  Knowing the following car insurance tips will help you obtain the recovery you deserve if you are in an automobile accident and suffer personal injury or property damage.  Having the right types and amounts of insurance coverage can ensure that you receive adequate compensation for your injuries.

Liability Insurance

California law requires every motor vehicle driven on California roads to carry liability insurance in at least the minimum statutory limits.  In the event the driver is at fault in an accident, liability insurance will cover any damages caused to a third party, such as a pedestrian, motorcyclist, or occupant of another vehicle struck in a collision.  Minimum liability amounts in California are $15,000 for injury or death to one person, $30,000 for injury or death to more than one person, and $5,000 for damage to property, often referred to as 15/30/5. 

It is easy to see how even in a relatively minor accident, not to mention a head-on collision, that the minimum amounts of coverage will be inadequate to shield the negligent driver from liability, particularly if multiple vehicles are involved.  It is therefore recommended that drivers carry more than the statutory minimums.  Most people can afford to carry more than the statutory minimum, and it is not a wise use of resources to skimp on liability insurance when you can afford higher coverage.   It is not a bad idea to buy as much liability insurance as you can afford within your budget, but at a minimum you should consider having $300,000 for personal injury and $50,000 for property damage.  These amounts offer significantly more protection than the statutory minimums, and you may find that it does not cost much more in premiums to maintain such coverage.

Uninsured/Underinsured Motorist Coverage

Despite the fact that California law requires every car to carry liability insurance, approximately 20% of the drivers on the road are not covered.  If you are struck by an uninsured driver, you may find yourself suing an individual who does not have any assets on which you can collect a judgment.

One solution to this situation is to have uninsured/underinsured motorist (UM/UIM) coverage on your own policy.  With UM/UIM, your own insurance company will compensate you if you are struck by an uninsured driver (UM coverage), or if the driver's liability insurance does not fully compensate you for your losses (UIM coverage).  Consider carrying UM/UIM coverage up to the amount you have as the limit on your own liability coverage.  Although state law does not require drivers to carry UM/UIM, all insurance companies operating in the state are required to offer it, and given the high percentage of uninsured drivers on the road, this is definitely not an area to skimp on coverage in order to save a few dollars on your premiums.

Med Pay

Finally, consider adding medical payments coverage (med pay) to your insurance policy.  Med Pay will cover your medical expenses when you are in an accident.  You will still want to recover from the negligent driver for future medical expenses, lost wages and earning capacity, and pain and suffering, but med pay coverage is an inexpensive way to make sure that your medical bills are covered if you are in an accident, and that you get the treatment you need without worrying about who will pay for it.

We hope these tips are useful to you in planning your automobile insurance budget.  If you have further questions regarding insurance and liability, or if you have been in an accident and require legal representation to obtain compensation for your injuries, contact the Law Offices of Mark A. Doughty to speak with an experienced personal injury lawyer.

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