I have clients come into my office every day and tell me that they have “full coverage” insurance. Many are surprised that “full coverage” is not actually coverage designation.
So, let’s talk about the different types of insurance that you may want to consider carrying on any motor vehicle you drive: · State minimum coverage – RCW 46.29.090 sets out the absolute minimum coverage that you must carry if you drive a motorized vehicle on public roadways in Washington. That includes:
- Minimum of $25,000/50,000 for bodily injury
- Minimum of $10,000 for property damage
These coverages only cover the other driver’s car and injuries to someone else caused by your negligence.
As you can imagine, if you are seriously injured by a negligent driver your medical bills could easily exceed that amount very quickly. Therefore, we advise that you should also explore having the following additional coverages added to your policy:
· Personal Injury Protection (PIP) – Even if you have private health insurance, they often will refuse to pay for treatment for injuries that were the result of an accident. PIP is a no-fault coverage that is provided by your insurance company. PIP allows you to seek and received any medical treatment that is “reasonable and necessary” to treat injuries sustained in an accident. PIP allows you to see any medical provider you want, including chiropractors, massage therapists, and other specialties not often covered by private health insurance. Usual coverage amounts offered are either $10,000 or $35,000, but your insurer may offer higher limits. PIP not only provides for medical treatment, it also compensates you for lost wages, and expenses incurred if you need to hire someone to assist with household chores (lawn work, cleaning, etc.). While these are all “damages” that we will seek from the at-fault party, it could take years before you see any of those funds. Additionally, if you are at-fault for the accident there is no one to recover from, but as a no-fault coverage, even if you are at fault, PIP will cover you.
· Uninsured/Underinsured Motorist Coverage (UM/UIM) – while RCW 46.29.090 requires people to carry minimum insurance, the reality is that some people do not. If you are injured due to someone else’s negligence and that person is uninsured (or underinsured) how would you pay your medical bills? Or recover for lost wages? Or your pain and suffering?
If the at-fault party were uninsured, there would be nowhere to turn for compensation. If the driver carries only minimal insurance and you are seriously injured, your medical bills alone could exhaust minimal ($25,000) limits. If either of these situations arises and you have UM/UIM coverage, your insurance company steps into the shoes of the at-fault party and provides compensation up to your policy limits.
There are a number of other insurance coverages that you can add to your policy that deal with property damage but these are the big two that everyone should carry to protect themselves and their families.