Auto Insurance Facts that No One Will Tell You That you SHOULD Know!

Uninsured Motorist Coverage * Underinsured Motorist Coverage * Spousal Insurance

In New York State, as in every other state, it is illegal to drive a vehicle without proper insurance coverage.  Insurance serves to protect you, and those driving with you, as well as strangers with whom you may be in an accident at some time.

New York State requires a minimum “liability” coverage of $25,000 for privately used passenger vehicles.  This is the coverage you have in case you are sued by others because of an automobile accident.In purchasing automobile insurance, you will also automatically receive “No-Fault” coverage for certain expenses you may incur in any car accident.

These include payments for medical treatment and lost wages.   It is referred to as “No-Fault” payments because the “victim” in an car accident will be paid these benefits regardless of whether that person was or was not at fault for the accident.  Those benefits are paid regardless of  fault, and for an injured vehicle occupant, the insurance company of the vehicle in which that person was riding is the company that pays those benefits.

There are other coverages available when you order automobile insurance that you should know about.   These are most often not explained to you when you order your insurance and may be the most important of all.

First of all, you should be aware of the fact that you have the option of raising the limits of both your “liability” coverage and your “No-Fault” coverage.   If you can afford to do so, you probably should .   First, it will protect you and your assets to a greater extent if you are unfortunately involved in an auto accident and are sued.   Second, it will cover your medical expenses and lost wages to a much greater degree if you are seriously injured in that accident.

Most importantly, greater liability coverage will allow you to purchase greater amounts of both “Uninsured Motorist” insurance and “Supplemental Underinsured Motorist” insurance, the importance of both of which cannot be stressed strongly enough.

“Uninsured Motorist” insurance will cover you, or the occupants of your vehicle, up to the limit of your coverage, in the event the automobile with which you had an accident had NO insurance at all.  Accidents with uninsured vehicles happen with some frequency, and then “Uninsured Motorist” coverage on your own vehicle compensates you and the occupants of your vehicle for “pain and suffering” which would not otherwise be available.   “Uninsured Motorist” coverage is part of every auto policy, but increased amounts over the basic $25,000 offered is only available if you first purchase “liability” coverage over the required $25,000 minimum.

Supplemental Underinsured” motorist coverage may be the most important of all.  It is rarely mentioned by insurance salespeople–it is surprisingly cheap and they do not realize much profit from its sale.   This coverage becomes vital when you are unfortunately involved in a serious accident and you or the occupants of your vehicle are very seriously injured–and the accident was not your fault.   If the other vehicle, which was at fault, has insurance, BUT it is only a modest amount, it will probably not be nearly enough to adequately compensate you, or any other seriously injured person in your vehicle, for the pain and suffering they have gone through.   In that event, you and the other injured party or parties can simply turn to the “Supplemental Underinsured Motorist” coverage of your own auto policy to make up some or all of the  difference.

One last very recent addition to available insurance coverage in New York is “Spousal Insurance”.   This is important when you realize that, if you are married, there is no one with whom you drive more often than your spouse.   The rule has always been that one spouse may not sue the other.  While you could sue a parent, a child, a sibling, you could not sue a spouse.  If you were driving with your spouse and the driving spouse caused an accident, there was no available way to seek an award for pain and suffering.  That has now changed.  You can request “Spousal Insurance”.  This, too, is not very costly, and could be invaluable.   It should certainly be looked into and seriously considered.

Unfortunately, most people do not realize the shortcomings of the car insurance coverage they have until it is too late–until after they are involved in an accident.  Everyone would be well advised to review, very carefully, with a knowledgeable person, either a trusted insurance broker or an injury attorney well versed in automobile matters, the coverage they currently have to determine its adequacy.